Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Earliest Christian Church Found in Israeli Prison 

Where It Belongs

Over the weekend, workers at an Israeli prison camp holding primarily Palestinian prisoners of conscience reported (CNEWS) (BBC) finding of what may be the oldest Christian church in Israel. Most impressive was the surprisingly well-preserved mosaic flooring featuring both text and sacred symbolic images.

Speculations immediately began, with glee, about the potential tourist draw of such a site, and if the site is authenticated the prison will likely be moved. "If it's between a prison and a church, I would like a church," said Joe Zias, an anthropologist and a former curator with the Israeli Antiquities Authorities. "You can put a prison anywhere."

Significantly, the dig has involved the efforts of more than 60 prisoners at the camp near Megiddo.

What better place for a Christian church than in prison, and who better to reveal it to the world than prisoners of an occupying power.

A religion founded by a man whose life and career was built on resistance to "powers and principalities", by a man who preached peace for the downtrodden and freedom for the captive, and spent his last days imprisoned by the Powers of his time and was even executed for his resistance, by a man who lived in vociferous solidarity with people disempowered and victimized by an oppressive occupying force - what better testament to its roots than being discovered by prisoners right under their feet.

The real estate of Jesus and his disciples - location, location, location - is within the menacing and guarded walls of a prison. The hands that reveal the oldest roots of our faith are shackled and jailed.

How faithfully the symbolic and real location of this oldest Christian edifice in the Holy Land fulfills the life and mission of its sacred leader and the principles he offered his disciples: faithful resistance to powers and principalities, freedom for the captive, and liberation to the slave.

I say don't move the prison or the church. If pilgrims must come, let them enter the gates under guard. If resistance makes prisoners anywhere, we Christians must join them everywhere. If, indeed, one can put a prison anywhere - that's a good sign where our church should be.

Labels: , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?