Summary: When the unthinkable happens...When tragedy strikes...When hearts and faces are sad--God NOTICES and cares for us, just as He did for Joseph.(2 Sundays After "911.")
(Preached 2 Sundays After "911.")
"Why are your faces so sad today?" The events of and since September 11 have had varying affects on all Americans. Most have been moved with a patriotic zeal that just a few years and weeks ago was thought not to be in vogue. The supply of American flags has not kept up with the demand for their purchase. Sporting events include not only the "National Anthem" but also songs like "God Bless America," "God Bless The USA," and many other songs that affirm love for our country and hope in our God. Even aging Pat Boone is re-releasing an old album of patriotic music.
Football teams have prayed with the opposing teams after the games. Some schools have even allowed students to have times of prayer in their classrooms… Our country has observed moments and days of prayer…
Some citizens who have hated President George W. Bush, at least for now, are overwhelmingly tilting the political polls in his favor. There appears to be a new found unity in our great land. I was happily surprised when I noticed this week that one of our area’s liberal newspapers had, next to a red, white and blue American flag, next to the front page headlines, the words "God Bless America."
There has been an outpouring of sympathy for the victims and families of those harmed by the terrorist attacks on our land. Never before have so many volunteered to donate blood. Relief agencies have been recipients of millions of dollars in cash and goods to help those devastated by the cruelty of September eleven’s horrific acts. Millions of dollars have been raised with heartfelt sympathy for victims and their families.
Saturday’s newspaper had an extensive article about pacifist churches and denominations and their reactions to terrorism. Some pacifists say that they may serve as medics or firefighters. They love and want to help our country, but they will not fight. In past wars they have done heroic service for America.
As with all wars in American’s history, a minority of Americans, both religious and non religious, are saying we should talk and not fight with the terrorists. "Terrorists:" A word that some of the media will not call these murderers of over 3,000 Americans and citizens from many other lands: People who were innocent victims of a "holy war" of hate declared upon "Americans and Jews" as stated by Osama bin Laden and his fellow disciples of hatred. Ecclesiastes 3:8 reminds us that there is, "a time for war and a time for peace." Jesus reminds the soldier to be a good soldier…And at times soldiers have to kill... But a good soldier acts with justice and with mercy. We need to pray for the men and women from our congregation who serve in today’s military.
Not every American’s words and actions have brought unity. Some hate filled and prejudiced citizens have attacked people whom they thought to be Muslim, Arab or of Mid-Eastern heritage. Some mosques have been the target of vandals seeking revenge.
Schools, businesses and even television programs have employed grief counselors to help students, employees and other hurting Americans to understand, feel and verbalize their grief. After the shock of that Tuesday’s events, all of us have had to deal with all types of emotions. Shock, anger, depression, denial, grief, hatred, fear… So many American’s hearts and faces are sad.
Last Sunday, as I lead the morning worship service, I NOTICED that many of you in the congregation, instead of the usual joy that you usually express at the worship of God, had looks of tiredness and sadness on your faces. We were just beginning to realize the horror of this tragedy and to NOTICE that just maybe, America would never be quite the same. We asked, "Will I ever feel safe again?"
This week we have seen news accounts of more funerals and memorial services and heard tales of the gruesome Ground Zero, Pentagon, and Shanksville piles of rubble and bodies. The stock market is on a roller coaster.(Biggest drops in history…) We read of job layoffs and bankruptcies and we ask, "will I be the next to be downsized?" This week, as I prayed for you, my congregation, and for my country, I could not help but wonder the atmosphere that today’s service would present.
As I planned for this morning’s service I was reminded of Joseph’s ancient words to the then King of Egypt’s imprisoned Chief Baker and Chief Cupbearer, "Why are your faces so sad today.?"
Let us look at Joseph’s story and words for a while today and see if after observing Joseph we can leave this worship service with new hope, stronger faith, and courage to face what ever evil Satan sends our way. By the way, please NOTICE my use of the word "NOTICE" as we review the story.