September 13 – The Church of the Resurrection
On this day, in the year 335, the Church of the Resurrection, or Holy Sepulchre, was founded in Jerusalem.
I don’t know about you but one of the things I have been the most distressed about over the recent years has been the callous disregard of ancient holy places by warring factions in Iraq and Syria. Loss of life and displacement of families being by far the worst consequence of the insanity. But, also, ancient buildings, cities and relics, that had survived for thousands of years because of their historical and religious importance, have also been decimated. Reduced to rubble by bombs and artillery.
But in Jerusalem the most sacred historical place of all, the church that was carefully constructed to cover the location of Christ’s crucifixion, Golgotha, His burial tomb and resurrection from the grave, still stands.
You can read all about the Church of the Resurrection on Wikipedia or some other research site, but suffice to say, commemorating this sacred place, now around 1,700 years old, is something we can take a moment and thank the Lord for.
I’ve never been to Jerusalem, but my daughter Melissa has. Her tour wasn’t scheduled to visit the Church of the Resurrection for some reason, so she took a free day and navigated her way through the streets of Jerusalem to visit the holy shrine by herself.
Mostly, Orthodox, Catholic, and Armenian Christians visit the church to worship today, as it is, strangely, managed by several Christian jurisdictions, each with separate worship spaces within the structure.
The church has gone through a lot in 1,700 years as various regimes marched through town. Parts of it have been demolished, burned, and rebuilt several times, but it remains stalwart, a reminder of the most important season in human history—the life, death and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. The one who changed the world and redeemed mankind back to God.
There is power and meaning in the places we experience in our lives. I think of the little church where I decided to follow Jesus. A pale-green little stucco structure that welcomed worshippers with the scent of grape juice and a word of kindness. My mom and I were baptized there one Sunday. It was where MaryAnn and I were married. It was where I was ordained, and preached my first sermon. It is one of the landmarks of my life. And there are others. And surely you have some. A Place of meaning that represent a turning point or an epiphany of some sort in your life. A place and time you thank God for.
The Church of the Resurrection, a place most of us will never visit, is a place like that for all of mankind. A place that commemorates a man and a time, and a series of events, that changed the world. We don’t worship things, we worship God. But we can thank Him for things that point us to Him, and give our lives bearing. Like a beacon in the night, the Church of the Resurrection stands today and say’s, “Christ has risen from the dead, trampling on death by death! Awake, oh man, come now and see, and worship the risen Lord!”