Sermons

Summary: God’s mercy is available to us, whether we call on Him in disasters only or whether we are constantly in His presence. But how much more ready we would be for disaster if we cultivated His presence. A sermon for the 9/11 anniversary.

(Singing): “Sitting by the window praying, waiting for the

break of day; sitting by the window praying, hearing what

God might say.” (Repeat)

Of all the images which linger, a year later, of the events of

last September 11, none is more haunting than the picture of

people falling from the windows of the World Trade Center.

As the buildings burned with hellish intensity, bodies came

out of the windows and fell to certain death on the

pavements far below. Were they blown out of the windows

by the force of the explosions? Or did they break open the

windows intentionally, and throw themselves out, preferring

death by concussion to death by burning? I don’t suppose

we will ever know. There is no way to know whether the

windows were blown out by accident or were opened by

intention. Either way, however, men and women of all walks

of life, rich and poor, young and old, all religions and no

religion, had no choice but to throw themselves on the mercy

of God.

When your life is undergoing great stress, the mercy of God

is there for you, whether the windows are blown out or

whether they are opened intentionally. God is good, all the

time; and all the time, God is good. But how much light, how

much refreshment, there is if we will sit by the windows,

hearing what God might say.

The events of a year ago are coming back to remind us now,

aren’t they, of the stresses under which we all live? Since

the 11th of September we have felt panic, for fear that

terrorists might strike this capital city. Since the 11th of

September we have seen troops in Afghanistan, the stock

market tumbling, companies failing, jobs being lost,

bankruptcies climbing, and rumblings of war with Iraq. Some

of us in this congregation have felt the results in very

personal ways: you knew people who were annihilated, your

own job changed radically, your investments shrank. I would

guess that many of have made very important lifestyle

changes in response to September 11. And I would not be

surprised if the stresses of responding may be a silent killer

that will take its toll on us, some day. Who knows but what

some of us are so stressed, feeling that our security is not

what it used to be, that our very lives are being shortened?

What I want to speak about today has implications for

physical and emotional life as well as for spiritual life. I want

to open a window that may in truth save lives as well as

souls. I want to speak with you about prayer in times of

stress.

I invite you to consider: when your life is undergoing great

stress, the mercy of God is there for you, whether the

windows are blown out or they are opened intentionally. As

we said a moment ago, God is good, all the time; and all the

time, God is good. But how much light, how much

refreshment, there is if we will sit by the windows, hearing

what God might say. What do I mean?

Ken Medema is a wonderful Christian musician. Blind from

birth, he has lived a live of exceptional usefulness. He’s

composed many songs, and most of them have to do with

blindness. If you are unable to see, that one great fact takes

over your life, just as September 11 has taken over great

chunks of our lives. But Ken Medema has always been

determined that his blindness would not be his everything;

Ken says that Christ is his everything, and so he sings about

is faith. Years ago I heard him do a song on the story of

Daniel, chapter 6, at this prayer window. I want you to learn

a fragment of that song with me:

(Singing): “Sitting by the window praying, waiting for the

break of day; sitting by the window praying, hearing what

God might say.” (Repeat)

Consider who came to the window.

I

First, conspirators came to the window. Evil men with malice

on their minds watched Daniel day by day and conceived a

plan to harm him. Conspirators came to the window and

watched:

“[They] ... tried to find grounds for complaint against Daniel ... but

they could find no grounds for complaint ... [They] said, ‘We shall

not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find

it in connection with the law of his God.’”

And so they devised a plot against Daniel, these

conspirators. They persuaded King Darius to enact a law

that no one should pray to any god other than the king

himself. These men were jealous of Daniel; he threatened

them with his integrity. They did not really know where that

integrity came from; they knew only that they wanted to

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