Summary: A Christian response to terrorism

“Standing Against Terrorism”

Sermon preached on August 27, 2005, in anticipation of the 5th Anniversary of 9/11

Listen to this religious devotional:

”Praise be to God, who revealed the Book, controls the clouds, defeats factionalism, and says in His Book "But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every strategy of war. The crimes committed by the Americans are crimes against us all."

On that basis, and in compliance with God’s order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims: Kill the Americans and their allies--civilians and military. This is an individual duty for every Muslim. We call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded, to comply with God’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. “ [Abridged & paraphrase, “Text of Fatwah Urging Jihad Against Americans,”<<>>]

Now, if many of us were to read this, five years ago, we might dismiss it as the ravings of some lunatic. But as we come up on the 5th anniversary of September 11, we know that this is no ordinary lunatic. This is Osma Bin Laden, and other Islamic terrorists who share his goals and methods. Perhaps we have been fortunate that nothing as horrific as 9/11 has happened in the United States in 5 years---but most of us recognize that where there is smoke, there is fire:

******February 2006: Police in Toledo arrest an Islamic terrorist cell training to attack US forces over seas.

*****April: Two Atlanta men arrested while communicating when communicating with terror suspects in Canada. Men were charged with videotaping domestic targets, including the US Capitol and World Bank.

*****June: The US Immigration Service estimates that of the thousands of illegal aliens entering the United States across the Mexican border, 30% are from nations other than Mexico, and certainly that includes at least some potential terrorists.

*****August 9: Dearborn Michigan: Two Muslin men arrested & charged with money laundering in support of terrorism.

******August 15: British authorities announce that arrest of 25 people. following a lengthy terrorism investigation. These individuals were nearing the final stages of a plot to blow up as many as ten airplanes destined for the United States.

And this list does not even include the numerous terrorist incidents in the Philippines, Israel, Lebanon, India, Iraq, & elsewhere.

Of course, we need to recognize that there are many innocent people who believe that we of the United States also have blood on our hands. Politicians may call it, “collateral damage.” But, as Christians we need to recognize the biblical trust that, quote, "God shows no partiality.” Again and again, through out the Christian scriptures, God condemns the shedding of innocent blood. Period. The Lord our God is one and He is the God and father of all people. He weeps not only for us.

And, of course, we as a nation have not only been wounded, but we are a bitterly divided politically—and those divisions are related to how our nation has responded to terrorism, and will respond to terrorism in the years ahead. Confusion, mistrust, antagonism, and even despair have resulted in greater fear throughout our country.

Terrorism, of course, is not just seeking to kill people. Rather, terrorism seeks to frighten millions and millions of people in order to impose its will upon the victims of fear. And even as civilians, we have real reasons to be afraid.

· 3,000 real people were murdered on 9/1`1.

· Real people are being bombed.

· Real people are being decapitated.

· Real people have been slaughtered.

· And because we are one if the “infidels,” we are all targets.

Furthermore, we have no guarantee from God that our families and we will be protected. Murder and warfare have happened ever since Cain murdered Abel at the beginning of the biblical story.

A popular radio talk show host in this area, who is an avowed atheist, says, and I quote, “So if God want stop it, then what good is He? Look at the bloodshed and the murder. Where’s God in all of that? Why doesn’t He stop it?”

Perhaps that is a question all of us have asked at one time or another. …And any attempt to answer that question would leave most of us for a loss for words—because mere words cannot take away the trauma, the suffering, and the pain. And we are not the only people who have asked that question.

God, Himself, has heard the death cries of his children:

· The God we worship is not detached and removed from the horror, anguish, and suffering.

· Rather, the God we worship absorbed all that horror, anguish, and suffering, and took it all into a frail human body, which agonizingly hurt, bled and died.

· The God we love was the victim of mercy-less terrorists, who preferred his torture over His death.

You see, we know what the world does not know and that is this: All terrorism is inspired by the devil, that Satan might wound God by torturing us, His children. What greater pain could a person face than to witness the torture of his or her child? Perhaps the only greater pain would be to witness that torture being carried out by another one of your children—who is an unwitting accomplice of the devil—whom the devil has deceived into thinking that terrorism is the will of God. So, in his cunning, the devil terrorizes the world, trusting that God gets the blame and that people will turn away from Him. And, if enough people turn away from God, then the world could be totally consumed by the chaos of Nazism and Islamic fundamentalism, where the devil could work out his mischief without opposition.

BUT THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. That is not going to happen because Jesus Christ defeated the devil by defeating death by rising from the dead. Jesus Christ is the truth and the Truth is stronger than the lies of the devil. We are promised that one-day

One commentator, writes, “Christians should not mistakenly think that bad news here on earth means that Satan is winning. The horrors of war—like the other pains and scars of life—pose a challenge to our faith. But there is something worse than misery and death. The terrible tragedies of this world work to Satan’s benefit only if we despair. Actually, suffering can strengthen faith.” [Paraphrase from article written by Stephen Carter].

You see, the suffering that Jesus endured on the cross, prepared Him to defeat Satan by victoriously rising from the dead. Chris has promised that those of us, who love Him, will also suffer like He did; but we will also share in His victory over his adversary and ours. So, in this regard, God’s word proclaims that in Christ, “suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope, and that hope does not disappoint, because God has poured out His love into our hearts.”

Empowered by this hope in Christ, Jesus has many followers on earth—followers who risking their lives to stand against the enemy. As we approach the 5th anniversary of September 11th next month, some of you may have been to seen the movie entitled, “World Trade Center.”

· This movie points to many of the heroes of that infamous day. One of them was Port Authority Police Officer William Jimero. He willingly went into danger to try to save others, and he was buried alive when the building collapsed. He was one of the few eventually rescued from that devastation. But he tells the story of having a vision of Jesus Christ, who gave Him courage and strength to keep on living, to wait for his rescue.

· Another hero was retired Marine Sergeant William Thomas. Inspired by prayer on the afternoon of 9/11, he felt impelled to go to ground zero —and was the man responsible for actually finding William Jimero and his partner.

There are countless thousands of people who have taken s stand against terror on behalf of Jesus Christ. But there are others as well. Many others.

· These are not people you will see on “Larry King Live,” for they are not widely known.

· These people have given their lives to Jesus, and they live their lives for Him.

· These people refuse to give into fear.

· These people know, as described in God’s Word [I John 4: 18], that the love of Jesus casts out fear.

· These people know that “courage is fear which has said its prayers.”

· These people take action, to overcome their personal fear.

· These people are grabbing their shotguns and running to hide out in the mountains.

· These are people who stand against terror by falling on their knees.

· These people know that al mighty God wants all his children to have “life, liberty, and happiness”---and that we are not going to let anybody steal that from us.

· These are people who know,”Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; they rod and they staff, they comfort me.” [Ps. 23].

· These are people who know that God sets a “banquet table” before us—in the presence of our enemies. And we are strengthened that through Jesus Christ, surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives, and we will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”

So, how can you and I fight terrorism? Here’s how:

1. Weep with those who mourn the loss of victims or terrorism; and remember to reach out to them for years to come.

2. Honor those who have served our nation, both the living and the dead, at home and abroad—in the military, State Department, police, fire department, emergency medical services, and those who volunteer in church and community to make this nation stronger.

3. Honor the generations of heroes, who have gone before us, who by their faith and sacrifices have made this nation strong.

4. Do not withdraw from politics. Vote for the individuals who you believe can best serve the people of this nation.

5. Do not despair. Choose to believe that the Lord is our shepherd and that we shall not want. Choose to remember that through Jesus, all believers have died to the old life of sin, and been born again to a new life with Him, which begins on earth, but does not end here. That life goes on in heaven and we need to hold on to that hope here and now.

So, let us pray----

· pray for our enemies;

· pray for our nation;

· pray for our loved ones and ourselves;

· and give thanks to the one, who has already defeated terrorism, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

---The Rev. John Donnelly

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church

Wayne, NJ

August, 2006