The #RethinkChurch Lenten Photo-A-Day prompt for today is “sent.” As we go through the week during the last week before Holy Week, our theme is to go Christ’s way instead of our ways. Jesus taught many things during his life and during Holy Week we will see how far Christ’s way is from our way.
On May 7th, 2014 I was standing in Northern Ireland and looking at a barbed wire fence. If you have never looked at a barbed wire fence up close, it is truly horrifying. I have spent a lot of time in my adult life trying to “kid proof” houses, churches, and even cars. I have gone out of my way to make certain that my child or another person’s child is not hurt when in a place where I have had a chance to make the space safer.
A barbed wire fence is designed with the opposite sentiment in mind. I don’t like walking through brambles because thorns hurt. The razor wire on these fences could easily hurt anyone who is reckless enough to get close. They look deadly, are deadly, and are not something you put up lightly. Seeing barbed wire on a church fence is seemingly antithetical to the gospel, but by local law the Methodist church I stood outside of in 2014 had a barbed wire fence cutting itself off from the community. What’s almost worse is that we were there on a trip to help repair the church that had been damaged by hurt people living in a hurt world where the barbed wire constantly reminded them of how they were the “enemy” of their neighbors.
I wanted to share the image of the murals below the barbed wire at the church. Why? Well, the people of that community had been sent by God to build a church in that space. The barbed wire came and it cut off the Methodist church from the protestant community and the parsonage which were on the other side of the barbed wire. Why? The church refused to have barbed wire between them and their catholic neighbors. What’s more, after the church was closed, the church building became a community center with the goal of building peace and the church rented the parsonage on the protestant side of the wall to Catholic nuns. They couldn’t help where they were sent, but they weren’t going to let it get in the way of following where Christ led them. That Methodist Church on the Springfield Road chose Christ’s way. I salute them for their bravery and hope to be half as faithful in my life.