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Christ reaches beyond the chaos

The interior dome over the Greek Orthodox Church in the Holy Sepulchre.

Some of went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at dawn this morning. All of us went later on in the morning as we finished walking the Via Dolorosa (the stations of the cross). The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built in the fourth century, and is literally built over the place where Jesus was crucified -- and where he was laid in a tomb. It has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries.

It is a chaotic place. The architecture is a mishmash; the flood of pilgrims who come in and out from all over the world makes for a very noisy environment -- but the biggest contributor to the chaos is the fact that the sacred space is managed by six different denominations -- Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Coptic (which is the Orthodox Church in Egypt), Syrian Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox. Protestant Churches did not yet exist when the church was divided up.

There is a "status quo" for the management of the church. But the relationships between denominations is chaotic at best, and hostile at worst. Turf battles break out all the time.

After I was able to work through my "why can't they get along" musing, I began to realize that this singular holy space is simply a microcosm of the world. Every time I have gone into the church -- and I go in as often as I can, I come away with the deeper appreciation that the loving Christ is bigger than all the confusion -- and that his loving reach extends beyond any protocol or status quo or ecclesiastical resistance we can put up against him.

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