Minister’s Moment, October 2018
Ancient Hawaiian society was ruled by Kapu, or sacred laws. Anyone who broke or violated the law, no matter how small, faced very serious consequences, usually death! The only way for a criminal to escape and ensure their own survival was to travel to a puuhonua.
Puuhonua, sacred sites of refuge established by local chiefs, held vast powers of forgiveness and healing. When a criminal arrived, the chief would perform a ceremony of absolution and they would be completely forgiven for their wrongdoing. If a warrior arrived, they would receive respite and healing. And if anyone else arrived, they would find a warm welcome, peace, and safety from whatever was in the dangerous world beyond.
At puuhonua everyone became clean, renewed, and absolved of sin and wrongdoing. But a person couldn’t stay at puuhonua for very long. One always had to return back to society.
There is a tension inherent in all sanctuary spaces between being called to come and rest and being called to go back out into the world. Sanctuary is different from simply being at home. At home we can stay as long as we like; we can draw boundaries around who is and is not welcome in our home.
But sanctuary is different. It is radically open to all. It welcomes all, receives all, and begs to be shared with all who are interested. As such, it requires us to be with others – criminals, warriors, and anyone else who wanders in – and when the healing and renewal are done, it invites us back out into the world.
This month at Peoples Church we will be exploring what it means to be a people of sanctuary. Where and what is sanctuary? How do we find or access it? What is it calling us to be or do?
I am very excited that we were able to schedule Caleb Gates from the McAuley Center to host an Adult Forum on October 7 at 9:45 am about immigration in Iowa. I hope you will join the conversation about making Iowa a more welcoming community for all!
I am also thrilled to be approaching our 150th anniversary in 2019. As we prepare to honor this milestone we will take some time this month to reflect on our long history, significant presence in Cedar Rapids, and enduring call to go out and serve the wider world. To get us started, the Archives Team has prepared a wonderful booklet celebrating our 150-year history which will be released on October 28th after church.
May we be sanctuary for another 150 years.