Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11--Taking Hope in the Light of the Shadow

Another year has passed and it is time again for me to take "pen in hand" to compose some thoughts regarding today's date 6 years ago. For some of you, this will be the sixth such email that you have received from me. For others of you, this will be the first. If you are in the latter category, you should know that I like to take a few minutes on the anniversaries of certain events (September 11 being one of them) to reflect upon what has happened, what we can learn from it, and how we can continue to move forward as a part of the kingdom of God. Whether you read my thoughts is entirely up to you, but I thought that you might be interested in them, which is why you are receiving this email.
It has been six years since the world trade center attack. That is a quarter of my life. My Mom is a first grade teacher and she shared with me not long ago that when she was teaching her first graders about September 11 it was a historical event as distant to them as the signing of the declaration of independence. So it is really all a matter of perspective. how we view the event in the United States six years later is significant, but what is even more significant is how we live in light of it.

There are many heroes of September 11 who risked and lost their lives so that others might live. Can we say as much of the church today? Yes September 11 was indeed a tragedy and I still mourn for those who lost their lives. But is it not at least equally, if not significantly more tragic that 30,000 children die every single day from entirely preventable causes (lack of food, lack of clean drinking water, and diseases related to these shortfalls)? Can we, as followers of Jesus and members of the kingdom of God, sit here in the comfort of our country and think that it isn't our problem? Not if we are serious about following Christ we can't.

Mourn those who have been lost, but don't stop there. Bring life to those who still live. Bring hope to those who don't have any hope. Be a part of God's kingdom.  Live a life of love and compassion that brings His kingdom to earth. Fight against the pain and suffering in this world through the love and power of God and his story. If you have received this sort of email from me before you will recognize this tone for it is not a new song for me. It is one that I continue to sing as often as I can because I believe it is what this life is all about and I believe that we do not get it and we do not live it.

We recently opened a youth center in Oroville and have four hundred different kids walking through our doors every week. If you want to find pain, brokenness, heartache, and hopelessness you don't have to look very hard. The purpose of the youth center is simply to provide a safe place for kids to be where they feel loved. I think that is the sort of thing Jesus is about. He isn't about church buildings, programs, war rhetoric, and political agendas. He's about the redemption of creation and everyone that is a part of it. Remember the past, but do it by living fully in the present, and let it equip you to move into the future. Don't let this day, or any other go by without love. Bring Heaven to earth by loving the world around you. Be a part of the amazing work of the redemption of creation.

I was reading in Ephesians this morning and four verses really stood out to me. I see a correlation between them and my other thoughts this morning so I thought I would share them with you as well...

Ephesians 2:14-18
"For he himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that he might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And he came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through him we both have access by one spirit to the Father."