So the church at which I work has been broken into and vandalized twice in the past week. This is in spite of the alarm system that was installed after six similar break-ins last year. The recent entries resulted in smashed windows, but no theft. The perpetrator is probably seeking cash, but there also seems to be an element of power-wielding and vengeance. The clean up from each break-in is more than simple removal of broken glass and replacing windows. We also have to look for healing in our hearts and our community that feels ever more violated and hurt and numbed by each experience.
This week when I was praying about this situation, I thought about Jesus cleansing the temple. As he threw out those who were selling offerings, providing monetary exchanges and making the temple into a general store, Jesus cried out, "My house was designated a house of prayer for the nations; you've turned it into a hangout for thieves."
These break-ins have not only violated our sense of community space, but also our sense of what church is about. Moments here, both sacred and mundane, are all fringed with the comforting knowledge of the Spirit and the gifts of God. It isn't that we are taken aback by the ways of the world (always), but that we don't expect to see that kind of violence and pain in a place of healing.
My prayers this week have been more along the lines of Psalm 137, than Luke 23:34. Yet we will gather again tonight and on Sunday to do what the Church has always done. We will worship and we will pray. This time we will pray for the cleansing of the temple from the specter of violence and violation. And we'll pray for the one(s) who continue to visit us- that they will know justice and, ultimately, peace. And we'll pray that God makes our positive prayers true in our hearts, but sustains us through the prayers that come from darkness, desperation and defenselessness.