Monday, January 14, 2013

Preeminent Domain

"salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who died for us"
1 Thessalonians 5:8-10

There is some construction going on in the town where our church is.  Pretty major construction, it looks like, although they've scarcely begun.  But we can tell it's going to be a big change, based on the preliminary work they've done, which is to raze a couple of buildings at an intersection near the freeway.

The town is one of the oldest in Southern California.  It lies along the El Camino Real, which has a fascinating history.  El Camino Real is The King's Highway, the 600 mile California Mission Trail from San Diego to San Francisco.  Between the 1600s and the 1800s, Catholic missionaries from Spain oversaw the building of 21 missions.  The road connecting those missions, was the El Camino Real.  And each mission was no more than a day's ride, on horseback, from the missions on either side of it.

It was wonderfully reminiscent of the concept of the Cities of Refuge described in Numbers and Joshua.  And I've seen a few of the missions in southern and northern California, and they are still beautiful. 

So this town needs to do the very tricky work of updating roads, and making things better for the citizens and visitors of the town, without destroying the "old town" feel of it.   Cal Trans ~ the California Department of Transportation ~  is predicting the work will take two year, which means it will probably take three and a half.  At least.

Not that I'm cynical about how long it takes Cal Trans to complete a job....

The first sign we had that something was going on, was the disappearance of two businesses at this major intersection.  Now, businesses close all the time, especially in a bad economy, but it's unusual to have two businesses in a thriving neighborhood ~ one a busy fast food franchise owned by a man named Jack, who lives in a Box; and the other a gas station ~ both close their doors at the same time.  And soon thereafter, both buildings were razed.  One morning, as we drove by and commented on this disappearance, the Apple of my Eye turned to me and we both said in unison, "Eminent domain." 

Eminent domain is a tricky business in America.  It's the law that says that the state, local, or federal government can take your property ~ with appropriate compensation, of course ~ for the betterment of the community.   In this case, taking down a restaurant and a gas station in order to widen a road, a freeway overpass and the off- and on-ramps. 

Eminent domain is both revered and loathed, depending on if it's taking place in your backyard.  Because as you may know, people generally like progress, but NIMBY.  "Not in my backyard."  Even when I explained the concept to my kids, they were horrified.  It doesn't sound like "liberty" and "freedom" ~ two concepts that are just slightly important in America ~ for the government to take your property. 

And indeed, the government oversteps its bounds sometimes.  I remember a controversial case years ago ~ Connecticut, I think ~ where the people fought to keep their homes, and lost.  And years after forcing the property owners to sell, the government still hadn't done a thing to the land.  It became a home to overgrown weeds and a monument to red tape. 

But there are times when it's necessary.  There are times when something has to be destroyed so that something else can be created.  There are times when one has to suffer, for the good of many.  That's the whole concept of a sacrifice ~ giving up something to accomplish or receive something better.

That, my friends, is JesusHis pain, for our growth.  His death, for our life.  His sacrifice, for our salvation.  His Love, for us.

~ "Come, you blessed of My Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world" ~
Matthew 25:34

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