A sermon I delivered after 911 at Paisley Methodist Church STANDING ON THE PROMISES We’re called to STAND ON THE PROMISIES, STAND ON OUR FAITH, and AND STAND TOGETHER.
Scripture is full of the promises of God. Psalm 119 is full of many promises that we need to remember. ……………. Listen to theses promises from the portion of our readings this week. Our youth will read the selected verses from Psalm 119 verses 73 through 144.
Let us pray.
Dear lord guide my words so that they may be a blessing to you.
Open ears so they may hear your word in your name amen.
These promises just read, remind us that we belong to God. It is God’s hands which “have made and fashioned us” as verse 73 says.
This passage reminds us that God is still in charge. Verse 89 says “the lord exists forever” and 144 says, God’s decrees “are righteous forever”.
God has never given up the reins….. God’s never surrendered the driver’s seat……. God has never relinquished the helm to anyone else….. God is still in control…… God is still in the pilot’s seat…….And what we’re called to do is to search the scriptures……. We’re called to let the “word be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path”(verse 105)….. So that we can find those promises that speak of hope and strength and comfort…….. And when like the firm foundation which they are, we’re called to stand upon those promises and trust them as we trust God.
Let God and the word of God (as verse 144 says) “Be our hiding place and our shield.” Let us “hope in Gods Word.” STAND ON THE PROMISES OF GOD.
II Stand on our faith
As we stand on the promises of God we must also stand on our faith.
Our lives have been rocked. Everything that seemed so solid has been shaken.
The twin towers of the WorldTradeCenter. The Pentagon, both Symbols of American strength and stability, have been taken out by terrorist attack. And there are the lives………..both those lost and those changed forever by the four homicidal jet crashes of 9-11. Through a network of connections that will unite us as families and friends and acquaintances across this country, every one of us has been affected by the devastation of that day. As Martin Luther King once said so well, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
On September 11th, our world experienced horrors beyond any that we might have imagined. We are stunned and over whelmed by the scope and depth of such brutality. Our initial reactions were many: shock, repulsion, desperation, and fear.
Yet, WE ARE A PEOPLE OF PRAYER. Our fear does not immobilize us.
Pray for those whose lives have been so tragically altered.
Pray for our national leaders, prayerfully asking God to give them sound judgment and spiritual insight, so that their actions may be wise and just.
Pray for those who struggle with loss of job and economic jeopardy brought about or exacerbated by this attack.
Pray for the many heroes who give of themselves: police, firefighters, and many other unnamed servants who might have saved themselves, but who died so that others might live.
Pray for those in the military and their families.
Pray for ourselves. Pray that God will give us the faith and courage to pray for our enemy. Pray that God will continue to give us strength to witness to God’s truth of forgiveness and God’s true healing, remembering that we are God’s agents of reconciliation.
This is who we are, a people in prayer and a people of prayer.
WE ARE A PEOPLE OF LOVING DEEDS AND ACTS OF PEACE.
Raise our voices for, and reach out to, our Islamic and Arabic brothers and sisters. In the solidarity of love from the God of us all, offer a hug, a word, a kind gesture.
Let us initiate communal and collaborative prayer vigils and similar signs of solidarity and support with Mosques and other communities that may have been singled out for their race, Faith, and cultural background.
Let our pastors speak out against any and all acts of racial and ethnic mistreatment.
Let laity respond in ways that model compassion and grace, and encourage others to do the same.
Let us clearly demonstrate our connectedness as children of a loving God, to say by our action of love, that the people who claim the name of Jesus Christ will not tolerate bigotry toward and violence against our neighbor.
WE ARE PEOPLE OF PEACE.
Our rallying point is the cross of Christ and our outward activity is the Lord’s Supper where we partake of the body and blood of Christ.
We deplore war and urge the peaceful settlement of all disputes among nations.
God calls us to swim upstream against the tide of vengeful retaliation and instead, to seek peaceful alternatives to resolution, and to call our leaders to do the same.
Let our voices be raised to emphatically denounce any resort to nuclear, Chemical, or biological weapons, to hold that all human beings should live in a world free of such arms.
In the prayerful and thoughtful statements of our social principles, we honor those among us whose pacifist voice will never allow us to become complacent about war and violence. Also, we respect those who support the use of force in extreme situations when use of arms may be preferable to unchecked aggression, tyranny, and genocide. We are never satisfied that force of arms is the final answer without equal and connected efforts of restorative justice.
We claim that such justice only resides in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
In light of such horror, we continue with greater intensity our efforts to eradicate poverty, which is the fertile ground for hopelessness, hate, and violence, in so many places.
We honor those who have fallen and we enter into that place of God’s healing, not through acts of vengeance or desires for retaliation, but through our actions of love, through our point of prayer, and through our continuing movement into the life of the risen incarnate Christ.
And so we mourn – mourn the fatalities and the casualties, as well as out own loss of innocence. We have been attacked, and will never feel completely safe again.
But there is one thing we can do, one term we should remember: SCATANA. — SCATANA is a term for a special military operation, meaning Security Control of Air Traffic And Navigation Aids. In a time of national crisis, all civilian airlines go to the ground, and all military aircraft go in to the air, to provide for strong defense.
On Tuesday 911 the Federal Aviation Administration closed all the nation’s airports for the first time in history. SCATANA. As Christians, we may not have a role in the grounding of any aircraft, but in a time of crisis we are challenged to practice a kind of spiritual SCATANA: To go to the ground, the ground of our being, the foundation of our faith, God, our Creator and Redeemer.
Though jets should crash….. though buildings should crumble……though countless lives should be lost God is in our midst. God is walking with every family who has lost a loved one. God is walking with every person shaken by this attack. God’s heart is just as broken by this travesty against the innocent as ours. God is with us. And God will help us when the morning dawns.
The promise of verse 89 is God remains in control “The lord exist forever: Gods word is firmly fixed in heaven.”
At a time like this we have to go the ground, to the solid ground of our creator, Redeemer and sustainer. The foundation of our faith, God. It’s the only place of any strength and stability.
The second aspect of SCATANA for us, is to prepare a strong defense. Now I don’t mean for us to get in attack mode. That’s the last thing I mean. I think it’s time for us to take our faith seriously. To live it seriously and radically. It’s time for us to live the promise and the teaching of Jesus like we’ve never lived them before.
I read an e-mail that said the Christian faith has gotten so diluted by the commercialism of America and our need for the best and brightest and newest of everything that WWJD, now stood for WHAT WOULD JESUS DRIVE. I know they meant it in jest but it got me to thinking, I’d give up all my toys if I could bring those folks back.
Now is the time for us to get on the defensive through a radical living of our faith. Now , more than ever before, we need to ask WHAT WOULD JESUS DO. We need to be intentional in our walk of faith. Not so we’re ready if anything happens but because right now people are turning to God looking for answers.
Some of those folks have what has been called fear faith or foxhole faith, faith developed in the middle of a crisis. But we know from the parables of Jesus, that often times, that kind of faith shoots up and withers or is choked out by the weeds unless it is nurtured.
We need to live our faith in such a way that our lives are a witness so that we don’t become one of those weeds. We need to live our faith in such a way that it inspires others to walk a little closer to God. We need to live our faith so that others can see that God does make a difference, through the difference they see God making in us,
As we STAND ON THE PROMISES OF GOD, let us also STAND ON OUR FAITH.
III STAND TOGETHER
And finally, we’re called to STAND ON THE PROMISES of GOD, STANDON OUR FAITH, and STAND TOGETHER.
We need to remember who we are and where we live. We need to remember that this is the land of the free. A land where people of different backgrounds, races, nationalities and religions have come seeking freedom. We can’t let a group of morally bankrupt fanatics take away the one thing that unites us, our freedom by oppressing any group of people.
We can’t take on a mob mentality. We can’t start witch-hunts, going after anyone who looks middle-eastern. We can’t let hate groups have the final say. We can’t allow retaliation against the innocent or we sink to the level of those who perpetrated this against us. We proclaim that we’re different than that. We proclaim that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Now we have to STAND TOGETHER and NOT STAND for the idiotic acts of hate that have been happening.
Don’t get me wrong, I think we ought to hunt these people down. I think we should be like hound’s on the sent of their prey. I think we ought to go after them with every resource we can muster.
Once we find them, and I don’t have a dought that we will, we need to bring them to justice. Not vengeance, that belongs to God, but good old American justice.
We’re called to STAND ON THE PROMISES OF GOD, STANDON OUT FAITH, and AND STAND TOGETHER.
There is a word that God will be with us in all circumstances. “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For thought art with me.” Psalm 23
Those who walk in the assurance that God is with them can live at peace in the world of today. They can lie down at night and sleep the peaceful rest. They can see a future out there. They do not rely upon themselves but seek the direction of God in their lives. While all this is going on they live out to the best of their ability the law of love.
Maybe you saw the poem that a nine-year-old girl wrote. Rachel Engelland was troubled by the events of 911, just like all of us. Her parents Shawn and Sandra Engelland helped her try to understand what was going on and help her through the trauma. On Wednesday, Rachel’s teacher talked about patriotism, they sang the national Anthem and she told the kids to write in the journals.
Rachel wrote a poem she titled, :”It All Came At Such A Cost.” It goes like this
“Yes a lot of lives were lost”
It came at such a cost.
There wasn’t anything one could do.
But I hope you know I’m praying for you.
Yes, those lost were loved the most,
But if we hold hands from coast to coast,
And sing, sing, sing,
Let the Church bells ring, ring, ring,
We’ll lift each other up so high.
We’ll soar like eagles in the sky.
All the nations will see how we behave.
We’re the home of the free and home of the brave!
The WorldTradeCenter is gone, lives are lost,
It all came at such a cost.
Rachel said she: “wrote it to comfort people,” And I believe it does does.
Yes, they destroyed some of the premises and put some of us in panic mode. Yeah they took innocent lives. Yeah they shook the foundation of our sense of security and certainty. But we stand on the Promises of God for comfort, for strength, for guidance, for hope, for help, for courage. They can’t take that away. And they can’t take our freedom.
STAND ON THE PROMISES of GOD, STAND ON OUR FAITH, and STAND TOGETHER.