Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Reminder

If you are preaching Sunday, it may be helpful to remember that (as is so often the case), the place where some of our Biblical story occurs is today the site of a terrifying and bloody war.

Although the two-year battle for Syria has largely been kept out of Damascus, bombings are common enough and over the last week rebel artillery has succeeded in striking the city.

There are no simple answers here.  The government is tyrannical and unpopular; the Islamist insurgents are not likely to be much better, at least over time.  Just ask the Iranians, or anybody who has lived under the Taliban.

The Syrian government provides some protection for the Christian minority, a fact that hardly justifies its continued rule but which may at least give us pause.  Long before Damascus was a Muslim city, it was a Christian one.  Even today, the city is full of churches, not merely signs of an ancient heritage but also homes to living and faithful Christians.  But that heritage is not insignificant, either.  We still sing songs by St. John Damascene.    And it is, of course, the place where Saul became Paul, and the course of Christian history began its epochal shift from Messianic Judaism to a universal, Gentile-inclusive, community.

There may not be much that we can do for Damascus on Sunday, either as Americans or as Christians. But we can, at the very least, remember its importance, and pray for its people.

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