I just got back from Jerusalem this weekend, it was my third time there and once again I was not surprised to see the famous “ladder” was right where I left it. Propped up on an upper window ledge of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a very old ladder. For as long as people can remember, at least since the mid-1800’s, the ladder has been there, unmoved. Several Christian groups operate the church, but divisions between the groups have caused fighting (sometimes violently) and so a status-quo had been established to bring peace. This has meant that for nearly 200 years items in the church have been left as-is (notice the ladder on the upper right-hand window of these photos). The ladder is a glaring symbol of the discord and foolishness of these Christian groups vying for their right to control the space. Rather than considering the big picture of God’s redemptive work in Christ and their role in the Kingdom of God, they fight over a ladder – ensuring that no one group can claim it over another. They seem almost blinded to the message of Jesus in favor of establishing their control on this holy site. And so there it sits. A ladder. A symbol of the status quo. A symbol of a church stuck in neutral.
Does your church have a “ladder”? Why is it there? What would happen if you moved it some afternoon?
I would love, next time I go back to Jerusalem, to see that ladder taken down off that window ledge. On that day I would know that the church is getting back to the fundamentals of our faith in Jesus; that it’s not about our control or jurisdiction – but about our Father who is mighty to save and who asks us to come along.