Below you will find the email exchange between Rev. Brashear and myself regarding the offensive signage out front of his church.
Thanks be to God for pastor’s like him.
Rev. Brashear,On a regular weekly basis I have opportunity to drive past your church on my way to the [snip] post office, thus having the opportunity to read your signage. I am well familiar with your church because several of my friends attend and a couple are considering moving their membership to Bethany. I hear wonderful things about Bethany and your team.Imagine my deep disappointment when today I read your sign which says “Body piercing saved our lives.” As a Christian woman, I cannot convey to you how offended I was by these words.While I think I understand the point of the sentence, that body piercing is abhorrent and offensive, as well as being a mutilation of the temple in which God the Holy Spirit dwells, to liken our Beloved Christ’s sacrifice and suffering to something that misguided children (and some adults) do is an affront to that very message you are trying to convey. I liken it to the spitting done on Jesus as He walked the Via Dolorosa on His way to Golgotha.More so, I find the timing of this signage just as offensive. We have reached the mid-point of our holy and ascetic journey to Glorious Easter. How defeating it is to read such a quip during a time of sober reflection, increased charitable work and increased prayer.It is my hope and prayer that you will consider removing this sentence from your sign. I feel it does a great disservice to Bethany, to you as her senior pastor, and even more so, it is a slap in the face of our Precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.With respect,Mrs. Philippa Alan(Russian Orthodox Christian)
Dear Mrs.. Alan,Thank you for your kind words and also you concern over the words on our sign. The last thing we ever want to do is to offend others with our words. I realize that it is uncomfortable for us to think Jesus was pierced and spat upon and beaten again and again with a staff. I am sending you a verse that you may be familiar with. It is Isaiah 53:5 He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was laid upon Him, by His wounds we are healed. As you mentioned in a few weeks we will celebrate Easter, but until then, we need to reflect upon all the suffering Christ went through so that we might have eternal life. The cross is ugly and our sin that nailed Him to the cross is even uglier. I think the hardest words for me is when Jesus said My God My God why have you forsaken Me.I have asked the person responsible for the sign to take down the saying and replace it with the first part of Isaiah 53:5. He was pierced for our transgressions. I hope this will make you know that we care about you and others who may be offended. May our Lord deeply bless you in this Lenten and Easter Season,God Bless You, Jim Brashear
Dear Rev. Brashear,
I am deeply grateful for your email and the evidenced humility which possesses you. No wonder your congregation members love you as they do. It is well deserved.
Thanks be to God for the change in the sign. As I spoke with a friend about it, I remembered my daughter telling me the feelings associated with body piercing. She said that many people do it because the pain gives them a “rush”, a “high” that they like. It is the same with tattooing she said and often the pain becomes addictive. Thus the contemporary thought regarding piercing is hardly one of sacrifice and enjoyment of pain.
As you have said, Christ’s crucifixion was hardly those things. I appreciate Isaiah’s words very much as he is one of my favorite books. I like that the quote on the sign will be the first part of the text you mentioned. It conveys a good meaning and thought.
Rev. Brashear, again I am humbled by your kindness. May God bless you with a continued fruitful journey to our Lord’s Glorious Resurrection!
Your servant in Christ,
PS: Be assured that I will convey to my friends my continued support of their involvement at Bethany. Obviously, Bethany is well led.