Remembering, Reflecting --September 11, 2011
I love being the pulpit supply. Pulpit supply when the pastor is gone is a little like being a grandparent. You get to enjoy the people but don't have ultimate responsibility.
The purpose of this sermon is not tell you anything new about 9/11, but perhaps add some stories.
The Episcopal Church, St Paul’s at Ground Zero, was called a miracle church by Mayor Giuliano. It is the oldest church in New York City, and it’s situated right across from where the twin towers went down. It survived the blast and became the place where workers there went to pray, to rest, and to form relationships.
Does the church still stand, and what does it stand for? Buchner’s concept is that some people see the church as the body of Christ. Others see it as the people who gather. If these are seen as two circles the optimist says they overlap completely, the pessimist says they never overlap, and the realist says they overlap some.
I got my official invitation to the fiftieth high school reunion next year. That should be enough time to lose weight. When I graduated, I weighed 110 pounds. I remember the huge youth groups at church.
One good thing now is that church is no longer an automatic part of society. Now you have to have a reason to go to church. That's our challenge to make it relevant and have it make a difference in people's lives and in society.
I’m appalled by what is done in the name of security. Benjamin Franklin said those who give up freedom for security deserve neither.
Buchner says of the seven deadly sins, anger is the most fun. You savor your wounds. Only problem the skeleton at the feast ends up being your own.
The lectionary reading for this Sunday is about forgiveness, an “accident” The lectionary is divided into three repeating yearly suggestions. This is Year A, and it just “happened” to fall on September 11.
Forgiveness is one of the pillars of the church. God’s forgiveness came for a debt so huge that it took His Son to wipe it out. If we see things from God’s point of view, there is no “them.” They call us infidels, we call them heretics.
The hurricane in the Bahamas became personal because I know someone who was near there. Personal connections make relationships become more important than the sin. After 9/11, the Methodists formed group consisting of Jews, Muslims, and Christians to get beyond the us and them.
We can believe in the power manifested in forgiveness and love. Mary Johnson lived next door to the man who killed her son. She decided to forgive the man and get to know him. The result was one more person led to redemption in God. We need to grant permission to carry on and believe in the power of God to forgive and the power of forgiveness to transform. The cross stands as a symbol of what God can do in forgiveness.
Ten Boom, a resident of Nazi concentration camps during World War Two forgave her captors and tormentors and created a place of refuge where even the guards could also recover.
On September 11, the calls made by those doomed were to tell someone they loved them. They will forever stand as a beacon to the world.
John and I were coming back from Indian Valley. Shortly after crossing the Pulgas bridge in the Feather River Canyon and heading up Jarbo Gap we were stopped by a tree across the road. We went back to the Caltrans compound, two power stations, and a retreat center and called for help without rousing anyone.
Have you ever hollered for help you and didn’t get an answer? That must be what it’s like for an atheist.
An astronaut went on a mission. In the spaceship was a big red button with a note beside it saying, “Do not push red button.” Finally, his curiosity got the best of him, and he pushed the button. The spaceship exploded. He whispered, “Oh, my God.” A deep voice answered, “Yes?”
One of the nicest things about being a Christian is that we know someone is listening. We are in God’s hands, and He says, “I will be with you to the end of the ages.”
There once was a father who wanted to read a magazine, but his little daughter kept bugging him. Finally, he tore out a page in the magazine with a picture of the earth on it, ripped it into pieces, and took the pieces and some scotch tape to the table. He sat his daughter down there and told her to put the picture of the world back together and then he would listen to her. He returned to the chair and sat down, but it was no time at all until his daughter had the pieces together and returned to him. Amazed, the father asked his little girl how she did it so fast. She told him it was easy. There was a picture of Jesus on the back side, and when she got Jesus back in His place, the world came out all right.
Alexander Shaia says that we should always say Jesus the Christ rather than Jesus Christ, because Christ is a title. It means God's chosen one, the anointed, in Greek just as Messiah means the same thing in Hebrew. Jesus (or Joshua or Yeshua) is a name and means “God saves.” Jesus came to reveal the Christ to us, the Word who was with God from the beginning and helped create the world. The transcendent God and the Christ get up close and personal in Jesus.
The Gospel of John explains Jesus to the non-Jewish world. At the time John wrote his version of the Gospel, there were 100,000 Greek Christians to every Jewish Christian and the word Messiah representing God's promise of a savior in the Old Testament meant nothing to them. Logos, the word, was a concept that spoke to them.
The Christ is, was, and will be forever. “Jesus was born; the Christ was not. Jesus was killed on the cross; the Christ was not. Jesus was raised from the dead; the Christ was not.”
Saying, “Oh, my Lord” as opposed to "Oh, my God" indicates a relationship. “Lord” means the breadgiver of a medieval household. Our Lord is loving and familiar, while God is vast and enormous.
Remember that Jesus is the Christ. Remember that God who is the Creator of the universe chose to come to us as the incarnate Jesus. He loves us that much.