You Can’t Burn Down the Church.

Over the past couple of weeks seven black churches have been set on fire in north St. Louis.  Some received severe damage and others not much at all.  The denominations cover Baptists, Bible Churches, Catholic and Lutheran.  These are often struggling churches who live on the edge of not making it.

The message, loud and clear, that runs through the meetings is “You can burn the building, but you can’t burn down the church.”  Another sentiment at a prayer service was that an attack on one church is an attack on all churches.

Pamela Dolan, a rector at a Caucasian local Episcopal Church attended the prayer service.  She no sooner walked in the door than the host pastor asked her to offer a prayer.

She wrote in the PostDispatch, “It is a bit of an understatement to say that impromptu speaking is not my strong suit.  Normally I preach from a manuscript, polished and practiced to within an inch of its life, and pray from the Book of Common Prayer, reciting intercessions and thanksgivings burnished from decades and even centuries of use by the faithful.

My tradition is known for serenity and order…not for spontaneous overflow of emotion.  …I was wracked with self-doubt…But soon I realized that I was letting my performance anxiety get in the way of a holy moment…(they) were literally welcoming me with open arms, treating me as a sister in Christ, and even an honored guest.

The church is not some place we go, but instead, by the grace of God, we are.  All Christians should pray that one day our divisions will end and we will be one.  More than that we should live in ways that will help bring that prayer to fruition.

May God grant me the strength and courage to answer that call.”

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