Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering, Angel of 9-11, Every day counts


Angel of 9-11

Lots on our minds today. It’s the Jewish New Year. Congress is going to debate bombing Syria. A primary election is coming up. And the 12th anniversary of 9-11.

We begin with Jeremiah 18: 1-11. The potter and the clay passage. John comments as to how sometimes God has to throw out what doesn’t work and start over. I comment as to how in Genesis, we were created from earth, from clay. And the Holy Spirit breathed into the clay and life began. But we remain earth and to earth we shall return. And it takes fire to turn clay into pottery.  I have a visual aid. The baptismal font cover thrown by Dan’s mom Sheryl. How hard it was to be able to throw a ceramic lid 18 inches across. And how it cracked. How she thought maybe she should start over and then decided, No, this is what we do. We heal the cracks in people....And so the crack remains  preserved in the beautiful ceramic cover. And then we sing Change my heart, O God...
And after fire we have....

Change my heart oh God,
Make it ever true.
Change my heart oh God,
May I be like You.

You are the potter,
I am the clay,
Mold me and make me,
This is what I pray.

We talk about Philemon 1: 1-21. How Paul’s letters speak  to a particular issue at a particular place and a particular time. Or as in Hebrews (not necessarily Paul) general moral exhortation. Or, as in here,  a letter to an individual. The shortest letter in the New Testament. 
The topic is a slave named Onesimus. Was he a runway? Or (more likely)sent by his owners to tend to Paul in prison? It’s not clear.But what is clear, Paul is sending him back to his owner as a brother, a full partner in the faith. His name, Onesimus, which meant useless,  shall now be useful. And we note that when the church split over slavery this passage was used by both sides. It can be read as support for slavery as a natural condition or a critique of slavery.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         What is undebatable is Onesimus is now to be accepted as a brother.
Finally, the gospel. Luke 15: 1-10. The seemingly radical  saying that one must hate mother, father, brother...Followed by the strategic, calculated assessment of the need for a strategic plan for building or battle. Don't start what you can’t finish. Good words for us. As we near the end of our journey. Or at least this phase of it. Stephen says that Jesus has  been very angry lately. As a man, he has to feel that. It’s part of being fully human. And that radical discipleship requires radical choices. But Luke also calls us to strategic thinking, no romantic martyrdom here.

We finish by reflecting on 9-11. Last year, Marsha challenged us to think forward. It’s too easy to fall into American exceptionalism. Other countries have suffered so much more. I think of my Serbian friends. The 78 consecutive days of NATO bombing. But still, we need to remember, because what we did as a church  is part of who we are...
  1. We gathered that afternoon and called every church member
  2. We had a prayer service that night for the community. A reporter from France showed up and wrote home about being with us.
  3. That weekend,we made 1500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  4. We went to Ground Zero and served food all night to workers
  5. A man from Tennessee who’d previously been with us in a summer work group came back and joined us as did a student from Ohio
  6. We peeled onions  all night long at Boule and other first class restaurants serving the workers
  7. We received letters and banners from all over the country
  8. We had a social worker with us for 18 months to work with those whose needs  fell between the cracks.
  9. We hosted two dozen work groups from around country

For all this, New York City Presbytery names us an
 Angel of 9-11

We share out memories. Pat wanted to donate blood but was told there was no point. Others recalled tear stained faces of workers. Jamie seeing the burning towers fall from New Jersey. And my son Dan remembers a day of play, extended recess in his school. And I feel a twinge of guilt. Everyone else’s parents came to pick them up. His teacher mom and minister dad left him there unti the end. And so it was. So it is.                                                                
We light candles to remember.

Following services, session meets. Approves the contract for a lease with a long term partner. We prepare to start again. Begin again. 

We learned: every day counts....

No comments:

Post a Comment