John 3:13-17 Remembering Our Response JUMC 20110911

13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  NRSV

Like it or not, the horrible tragedy of September 11, 2001 has been replayed in tribute and honor of those who heroically helped lead persons to safety, recuse those who were trapped and search for those who had died in the multiple attacks just ten years ago.

I have heard one person say, I just can’t look at those airplanes impacting the building another time.  Others have looked on and now are able to see the good that came out of such an awful event.

I ask you to go back to this very day, ten years ago. Much like those who lived during the attack on Pearl Harbor, the shooting of Kennedy or MLK Jr. you have etched into your memory what or where you first heard of that news.

I had received an epidural for back pain the day before and awoke with even greater pain in reaction to the medicine. Wendy and I went early to the doctor’s office where I laid on a large ice pack, on a traction table, in a darkened room. Everyone else left the room. With in a few moments it seemed as if every single phone, cell phone and pager sounded off simultaneously and then they all went silent, a silence followed. Some time passed, much longer that I was suppose to be in traction (for everyone in the office was glued to the tv and computer screens.) I called out from my dark but safe place of rest only to find that some plane had crashed into the trade towers. By the time made it out to the nurses station to schedule a follow up appointment, the second plane hit the other tower. This was not simple a wayward accident, it was an intentional and premeditated attack.

Our land of the free and the brave were put on a notice that remains today. The notable response was that people began called the church office and wanted to know if the sanctuary was opened for prayer. With in a few hours we had dropped the plans of the day and members and strangers gathered to prayer, reflect and share stories of friends, family members and stories that had begun to hear. Some had not yet heard from survivors. All gathered, hundreds of miles away to find in the church a place of hope, security, and grounding.

New York towers were quickly given the name “Ground Zero” but I suggest that it was a spiritual shot in all of our hearts, maker ground zero within each of us.

Yes, for us, we did not have the smoke in our lungs nor the dust of the debree on our person, but we had been transported through countless reports and visual live account… played over and over until we had to become numb.

But step back into those first moments and hours and days. People looked past our differences to see the present hurt, the hopelessness, the grief, the overwhelming nature of a new reality, thrust upon us.

One of the first bible passages people begin to learn. Even at football games, graffiti artist and placards at the gas station gift shop.. John 3:16. For God so loved the world…

How is it that we can live in a world filled with poverty, war, terror, chaos if God loves us so very much?

The question that our text asks of us today is what is our response to death, destruction, dis-orientation, and division in the world and in our communities today?

Where is God today and how has the church done in the past ten years in reaching out to a hurting, chaotic, and divided world and community?

I would make the case that our community, here in Jackson and from a global perspective are looking to the church for comfort, healing, hope, direction, power in a world that continues to crazed and up-side-down.

What child would you not want him or her to know the love of Jesus in their own heart, life and home? Then why don’t we have more helpers in our children’s program.

Let’s Wrap is receiving a $5k grant from EMC to buy coats so that no child is without a coat in Butts county.  Now we that we have warmed their bodies, will we take the next step to warm their hearts with Jesus?

If you travel at all you know that in the name of safety, there are TSA agents who are more intimate with strangers that we are with neighbors in church and our own community. We are scared to touch someone.

It is the government’s job to protect our safety, our economy and our general welfare, but it is not their job to make sure every citizen knows the love of Jesus Christ. Who’s job is that one?

When we had the great opportunity of the tragic attacks people flocked to the church.

In the past ten years what is our witness of love?

How have we shown the hope that comes through Christ?

How, there are individual who have remained vigilant.

There are instances where folks have reached out through acts of service, missions, clothing, feeding, transporting, and befriending..

The question is: do we know, for sure, if these have known it is because of God’s love, Jesus’ grace, the spirits guiding that we love as we have?

The 10th anniversary of these acts of terror stand for as a marker in the sand: how have we shown a hurting world God’s love, God’s hope, God’s grace and peace?

IF you can’t name them personally, you personally have work to do.

On some Sunday, I have asked you why are you still sitting here, I have not been specific. I have assumed you understood my question: What I mean to say is, while there are so many folks, all around us, hurting, confused, afraid, lonely, grieving, starving and separated… why are you still in this place when the people out there need us to be with them?  Go.

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