What gets into people at Christmas?

Have you seen the man on the left?

Surveillance cameras caught this man stealing a wreath from a home doorway in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia.

News stations were called. Reporters were dispatched to the scene. Interviews with neighbors revealed community outrage.

Help us find this thief, is the plea.

Who would do such a thing? is the question.

Maybe he learned his behavior in church.

Our denomination “legally stole” our property in 2009. The court ruling stated that if the law were applied our congregation was within our rights to resist. But the courts have no jurisdiction in church disputes. It isn't that taking congregational property without the congregation's consent is right. It is just that no one can stop them.

Church people must rely on their own sense of outrage. But a sense of right and wrong can so easily remain uncultivated in the Church. There are no journalists to call. Church life remains unexamined. Many remain unaware of what church leaders do in their name, wanting to believe in inerrant leadership with the same trust that children believe in Santa.

The taking of our building was followed in 2015 with the taking of church furnishings. On Maundy Thursday, the day church leaders publicly display humility by washing the feet of ordinary Christians, a van pulled up to the door of Redeemer. The building has been locked to the community since September 27, 2009. The property reportedly was sold in July of 2014. They were returning for some things they left behind—the chancel furnishing. 

Somewhere in Lutheranland, Christians may already be worshiping at a “legally stolen” altar, preaching from a “legally stolen” pulpit, reading the Bible from a “legally stolen” lectern.

Also taken was our congregation's carved, large scale, creche figures.

Who would do such a thing, indeed! 

With all this taking, taking, taking, there remains no voice within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that is independent enough to say, “Wait a minute. What are we doing? What are we hoping to accomplish—and at what cost?”

It’s a pity that Christmas is so often lost on Christians.