Saturday, September 10, 2011

What Should Pastors Say on 9-11?

Good words from Methodist Pastor Alan Bevere:

1) First, I want to remind folks that there is indeed radical evil in the world, and because of that people commit heinous acts against other people. Moreover, when we reflect upon a day when such evil was committed, we need to do a "gut check" ourselves as to where and when we have been complicit in committing evil ourselves. The Bible portrays sin as a very seductive thing in which human beings become willing to participate even in the name of a moral cause. No one is immune from "Satan's snare,"--including Christians in America.
2) The Old Testament prophets used the occasion of Israel's national tragedies to remind God's people of their calling and raise the question of whether they were being faithful to the divine mandate. The tenth anniversary of 9/11 provides an opportunity for preachers to raise the question as to whether or not the people of God, the Church, is fulfilling its mandate to make disciples of Jesus Christ. We do this not because we think the church is somehow responsible for 9/11, but because such evil and tragedy remind us that God calls us to be present in the midst of such times and that we must never forget the mission to which we have been called.
3) That leads me to my next concern. This Sunday Christians need to remember that the church has been called to be a suffering presence in this world. The suffering of others is not to be kept at bay. Christians are to enter into that suffering, just as Christ entered into our suffering on the cross. We are to enter the suffering of those who still mourn the death of loved ones these ten years later, and we are to enter into the suffering of all who who have suffered in some form because of that terrible day.
4) This Sunday is a day to honor the courageous-- firefighters, police officers, rescue workers and others who put their lives at risk (many losing their own lives) for the sake of others. C.S. Lewis said that courage was not one of the virtues, but the quality necessary to inhabit the virtues in our lives. Such examples of courage remind us that Christian faithfulness too requires courage-- the courage to live rightly, to act justly, and to reflect the image of Jesus Christ in this world, and to give our lives if necessary for the cause of the gospel.
5) Finally, this Sunday is an appropriate time to remind God's people that in Jesus Christ God plans to put this world to rights, and that evil will, in God's own time, be defeated-- the evil that impinges upon us and the evil we perpetrate. Despite what happens in life, in the end, God will get God's way.
If you're preaching tomorrow, how will you reflect on the event and connect it to being a follower of Jesus?

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