who makes the rules?

I have to begin this afternoon by admitting that my sermon from yesterday is bleeding over into my thoughts for this week. I’m still thinking about what it means that Jesus declares that the Temple, the center of religious, political, and social life in first century Jerusalem will come tumbling down.  I keep looking over my shoulder, wondering what Temples I’ve built – what is it that I worship instead of God?

It seems like an easy transition to move from the destruction of the Temple to the Kingship of Jesus.  The Temple signifies all the rules we’ve made, presumably to keep the riff-raff out.  In The Episcopal Church, the examples are numerous, but a recent Church Pension Fund cartoon sums up my least favorite barrier to entry

I should say here that I’m not an anarchist.  I think rules are important.  I’m a type-a rule follower, if there ever was one.  My concern is that every few centuries or so, we forget who makes the rules.  Eventually, the kingdom gets so bogged down in the Temple, that the walls come tumbling down.  The Great Schism(s), the Protestant Reformation, and the coming Great Emergence (Tickle) or Fourth Great Awakening  (Butler Bass) are all examples of times when it was found that the rules and the kingdom could not co-exist.  Eventually, after a lot of pain, a lot of name calling, a lot of Christians behaving badly, the walls came down, the Kingdom returned to its rightful place at the center of devotion, and human beings got busy remaking stones and rebuilding Temples.

Every year at Christ the King week, I have thoughts similar to this.  And every year I find myself wondering, “what kind of church would God build?”  And every year I am drawn to the same story, one told by Tony Campolo about a trip to a donut shop in Honolulu, HI.




3 thoughts on “who makes the rules?

  1. Love the story:
    Tony Campolo tells the story of a trip which he took to Hawaii. Jet lag kept him awake late into night and he went for a walk on the streets of Honolulu. At 2 in the morning, he found himself in a doughnut shop. Sitting at the counter, he overheard several prostitutes who were sharing a booth. One of the girls whose name was Agnes mentioned that it was her birthday.
    After she had left, Tony turned to the cook and the other prostitutes and said, Let s throw a party for Agnes. The other girls agreed to bring decorations and the cook said that he would bake a cake.
    The next night, they all gathered at the shop and when Agnes walked in, they brought out the cake and began to sing, Happy Birthday. Tears streamed down Agnes s face and, when it came time to cut the cake, she just stood there. Finally, she said, Could I buy another cake and we eat that one? I want to take this one home and show it to my mother.
    With that, she took the cake and left. In the sudden silence that filled the shop after she left, Tony bowed his head and began to pray. Lord, we thank you for Agnes and for your love for her. You loved her enough to send Your Son to die for her on the cross. We thank you for the best present of all – the present of your own Son. Amen. When he raised his head, he saw that all of the prostitutes had their heads bowed and had been praying with him.
    The cook looked at him and said, You re a preacher! When Tony admitted that he was, the cook asked, What kind of church do you have? In a sudden flash of insight, Tony replied, The kind that throws parties for prostitutes and gives invitations to sinners. [Tony Campolo. The Kingdom Of God Is A Party. (Dallas: Word) pp. 3-7.]

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