Summary: How to have active faith in the light of 9/11
The Fifteenth Sunday After Trinity, 2001
From the Gospel: Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
This morning’s Gospel is probably one of the most popular readings among preachers. I think, however, that as with most wildly popular passages of scripture. It is one of the most mis-used, mis-quoted and mis-understood texts.
This morning’s Gospel is not about food or clothes or even lilies. It is about minds, hearts and souls troubled by the uncertainties of the human condition.
We stand, this morning, facing some of the greatest uncertainties most of us have ever faced. Thousands of our citizens, ruthlessly murdered by cowardly acts of barbarism unprecedented in our lifetimes.
We stand, this morning, on the brink of war, a new and terrifying kind of war. Where lines and enemies are nebulous and difficult to identify.
We stand, this morning, with the threat of economic chaos. As the stock market plummets and our transportation infrastructure threatens to collapse.
We stand, this morning, preparing, once again, to sacrifice the blood of our best and ablest young men and women. To secure liberty and security for ourselves, our children and grandchildren.
In the midst of such tremendous peril we hear Jesus telling us, “Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself.”
It would be easy, I think, to fall into the trap of the Process Theologians and find in today’s text a simple moral lesson, instead of a great and important rule of Christian living.
In our hearts, however, we know this is not true. We know that Jesus did not come to earth to enlighten our minds so much as to save our souls.
We know that Jesus intends us to find comfort and security, not in intellectualism, but in active and abiding faith.
The real key to today’s Gospel is in discovering how we apply that active faith when faced with such overwhelming circumstances.
In demonstrating such faith, it is tempting, and perfectly reasonable, for a preacher to point to the great saints and martyrs to show how their faith steadied them, even to the point of death.
We, however, have been given modern and easy to identify with, examples of how active faith allows us to leave tomorrow to itself.
I, as most of you, have lived from one news report to the next, for almost two weeks. And one of the things that I have noticed is that many people exercised great faith as they were brought face to face with great evil on September 11th, 2001.
From a passenger on United Airlines flight 93, the one who phoned his wife and told her they were going to try and take control of the plane. He was described by his family and his pastor as “a man of strong faith.”
Another passenger who knew he was about to lose his life called an operator. He gave her a message of love and faith for his family, and then this man asked the operator to pray with him.
The Fire Department chaplain who met a martyr’s death providing comfort and spiritual assistance to the injured and dying.
The list goes on and on.
We too, however, have been called to exercise this same active faith.
Some of us may be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice, that of our lives in the military struggle which is almost certainly just moments away.
Some of us will be asked to sacrifice our comforts, so that others can simply live.
All of us however, I assure you, will be affected by this current crisis, and I hope that in today’s Gospel reading we may find the way to respond to it in a truly Christian manner.
In the days, weeks and months ahead. We will have the opportunity to witness to the strength of faith. And its ability to provide comfort and calm, even in the midst of war and pestilence.
As our nation prepares for war, we will have the opportunity to ensure that we and our friends keep justice in mind and not vengeance. I know that we, as a nation, have in our initial anger and pain cried out for revenge. Let faith heal our hatred and let us seek instead for justice.
As our young men and women are preparing to deploy to points around the globe. Let us pray for them and their families. Let us remember that the comfort and freedom which we have so long taken for granted, is bought at a terrible price.
As our national leaders and our international allies strive for diplomatic and legal remedies against terrorists and their patron states. Let us return to our churches. Let us pray for them and their efforts. Here, in the pews and before the altar is the “front line” for most of us.