St. Luke United Methodist Church

St. Luke United Methodist Church

A church in our community was recently destroyed by arson.  I know many of the members of that congregation, and have actually been to worship services there myself.  The community has lost a beautiful bit of history.  The church has incurred a terrible blow, and it will be an enormous expense to repair the damage.  I’m fairly sure that the young man and his family will find themselves in hard times, both legally and financially. I feel terrible for everyone involved.  I don’t attend St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, but I grew up in a church much like it, and my father is a retired UMC minister.  My heart goes out to the congregation and pastor.  And of course, it could have been my church, just about one mile away!  The story is here: https://www.wyff4.com/news/20025730/detail.html It always seems so wrong, so reprehensible; the burning of a church.  It’s bad enough to burn a store, or burn a home.  But a church?  It makes us think of tyranny and persecution.  And yet, as I’ve driven past the charred roof beams above that lovely house of worship, I’m stricken by a thought. The church building is not the Church Universal and Holy.  The church building is a structure wherein believers come together, hoping and praying, learning and striving to become more like Christ. And so, here is the magnificent, thundering irony of the burning of St. Luke’s church.  The church is meant for church burners.  The church, the body of Christ on earth, the eternal fellowship of believers and the trinity, openly welcomes church burners.  Not only that, it welcomes those who persecute it, those who ignore it, those who hate it, those who would destroy it.  The church is indestructible.  The church is God’s responsibility.  Temples and churches and cathedrals are lovely and important; they have their place.  But like all things, they will go to dust in the end.  The heavenly owner of all of them say so. He says that churches, like all things earthly, will perish.  But the Church, his children, his flock, will live forever! And so, into the fold, he welcomes church-burners.  Just as he welcomes drunks and drug addicts, adulterers and fornicators, liars and thieves, the covetous and greedy, politicians and lobbyists, doctors and lawyers and mercenaries,  hookers and abusers and all the rest.  All of them, provided the humble themselves, turn in repentance and accept the gift offered to them; new life. He welcomes all criminals, for we all are criminals who daily break his law.  He welcomes all sinners, for as the Bible says, ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’  He welcomes sinners, because on earth, that’s all there is.  Sinners, either degenerate or regenerate. So, if you hear of a church burning, or some other terrible thing, remember that however good you are, God loves that arsonist exactly as much as he loves you! This is the hard lesson of the faith.  We are no good.  And yet, because of his grace, we are made good.  Even if we set fire to God’s house of worship. For one day, we’ll stand beside the worst of men and women who were forgiven and who grace heaven’s shores.  And we’ll be not one bit better than any of them! Church burners and all. Pray for the church burner in the story.  Who knows?  He may one day fill churches with his sermons.  Stranger things have happened when God turns evil into good. Edwin

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