|13th century depiction of Becket's murder in the Cathedral.|
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Murder in the Cathedral
I am running behind on my blogging this week. Not sure anyone noticed other than Jessica Otto, my Executive Associate who kept saying,” where’s your blog for this week?” So here we go, something I borrowed and paraphrase from Dr. Robert Holland in his series on the Ten Commandments. Over eight hundred years ago when Henry the Second was King of England, Thomas Becket was the Archbishop of Canterbury. Most of the time, before becoming the Archbishop, Thomas supported the King even against the Pope. But in his new role, Thomas and the King quarreled. Thomas believed that rule of the church took priority over the King. You can guess what the King thought of that idea. Well, one thing led to another and the bickering grew hotter and more intense, that after only two years on the job in Canterbury, Thomas was forced to flee to France where he lived out his life as a monk.
Meanwhile, things grew worse in England as both King and Pope jockeyed for position. Some six years later, Thomas was called back to England to set matters straight. Needless to say, the King was not happy, in fact publicly cursed the Archbishop and hinted it might be better if Thomas were out of the way. King Henry is rumored to have roared, "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?", but according to historian Simon Schama this is incorrect: he accepts the account of the contemporary biographer Edward Grim, writing in Latin, who gives us "What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?"
Well, if you remember you history classes back in high school, that is exactly what happened. Right there in the Cathedral Thomas Becket was murdered. I am told that if you go to Canterbury today you can walk around the spot where the stain of his blood still lies.
It’s a sad tale in so many ways….but what is sadder yet, we still kill people—and sometimes even still kill them in churches. Sometimes murders are committed with weapons, and sometimes with words, or neglect, or indifference.
This week’s commandment, “Thou Shall Not Kill” is up. I’ve titled my sermon, “Gangsters, Gunslingers and Christians”. See you Sunday. And as one of my old cronies named Cromie once said….”before entering the church, leave your gun and holster at the door.”