Monday, May 10, 2021

Sanctuary, Updated

The following entry is a post that was shared previously on Facebook and has been previously shared here before.  Because I have just come off of a viewing of the 1939 film version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, it has been updated and presented here again as a way to raise again for discussion and archive the content.


I've been thinking a lot lately about The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I've been listening to the cast album from the Paper Mill Playhouse production and it has quickly become one of my favorite musical compositions. The moment, of course, that always stands out to me is when Quasimodo finally breaks his chains and fights back against Frollo, yelling "Sanctuary" over and over, claiming Notre Dame as a place of refuge for all.

And that got me thinking...
When did the Church stop being a Sanctuary for all?
I know the specific laws of Sanctuary have long been overturned and those had their own unique problems, but there is something truly Christ-like about the image of anyone regardless of their background and sin being able to enter the church and claim sanctuary.
And it just doesn't seem like we live up to that any more. It seems we are more interested in the privileges and perks afforded our members, making sure they are well taken care of, than in providing refuge to the weary. A spa or country club as opposed to a fortress and refuge from the battle outside.
It's time to be honest. How do we act when a stranger comes in to the church? Does it depend on the stranger?
If an illegal immigrant sought aid from your church, would it be provided for or would you report and deport?
If a Muslim sought protection from a group of persecutors or if a homosexual person sought refuge from the same, would it be extended? Or would the church and its members be more likely to be the ones persecuting them?
Is the church out there speaking up for Black lives, or is it insisting the whole thing has just been stirred up by the media?  Claiming "All Lives Matter" in the face of specific hurts to specific populations?  Generally true, but not helpful?  
Is it speaking out against Asian American hate crimes, or is it stirring up conspiracy over the "Chinese virus" or the "Kung Flu"?  I'm not sure which of those is more offensive.
Is your church accommodating and carrying for those that are still affected by the pandemic, that are still scared of the deadly consequences it can bring by taking simple precautions like wearing a mask and social distancing?  Are the members putting aside their personal liberty in service to strengthen the faith of those around them, or are they the ones boldly proclaiming their rights have been infringed? 

I've been wondering if the church failing to do its job in this area is what has led to things like the  "safety pin" symbol. For those of you that have not seen the "safety pin" discussion so far, the idea is that people are starting to wear safety pins on their clothing as a symbol that they are an ally to the anyone who needs it, regardless of race, gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, religion, immigrant status, etc. I've unfortunately seen many in the Christian Right dismiss this idea because they view it as a partisan response to the election. It actually started in the United Kingdom after the Brexit as a response to an increase in racist and homophobic persecution there, and has spread to America as a result of the increase in attacks here post-election (2016). And it's sad that it is viewed as partisan and foolish, particularly by Christians, as it represents how Christians are truly supposed to love the world and speak up for those who are being persecuted or oppressed.

I know many are trying. I just pray that we can do better.

“God help the outcasts, or nobody will.”
"Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place." Jeremiah 22:3
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in." Matthew 25:35


Posted to Facebook November 17, 2016, 

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