The pictures are not of course, original to the email.
Date: Fri Sep 14, 2001 2:51 am
Reply To: ELCA-L@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Looking for power
Thanks to all of you who have been in touch over the past few days. It is a blessing and a comfort to know we are not alone. I hope all of you have been able to contact family and other loved ones.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Not the way we're normally inclined to think. Power is something we love to have. We want power -- sometimes power over another. But we also need the power that gets things done, the power we need to survive in the world. We want to be strong. In our hearts, we'd like to be invulnerable.
But we're not. Dear God, we're not.
"Power is made perfect in weakness."
This is a hard one to understand. But when I look around this city these past three days, I begin to understand.
This is a city that has been brought low, but is standing tall.
We've seen it over and over again. The man, named Louie, who carried a woman on crutches down and out of the Trade Center. The brave men and women who rushed towards the disaster to help. Who are still coming, from all over this land. Thank you. Thank you. The calm, quiet, shocked and determined response of people to marshall aid. To continue living. To help each other deal with this. All over the city, those who were prepared and those who spontaneously rose up. Our proud towers have fallen. But we are still standing. Oh, what a beautiful city.
And there are those who continue to search for loved ones. The photocopied flyers and flowers all over the city. You've seen them walking from hospital to morgue to police station to news van, hoping, praying, refusing to let hope die. What courage, what strength it takes to do that. What love. This is power, made perfect in weakness.
I got home tonight and sought my daily fix of the news. I have heard a lot of voices calling for strong action, meaning military action.
By and large, I have not heard people in New York City calling for war, for blood, for revenge. No doubt we are still in shock. But we are also angry, and will probably get even more so. There's a saying that came up quite often in our semester-opening worship last week. "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."
Trust me -- we've been paying attention, and we are outraged.
But there is very little sentiment here for the easy use of "war" language.
In Union Square and Washington Square there is a poster project, people set out blank paper and crayons and chalk, and people come by to see, to read, to express what's on the heart of the people in this city.
There was one poster which read "Nuke the hell out of them." But it was surrounded by fifty others, focused on care for those hurt, gratitude for the rescue workers, outpourings of sympathy. And wishes for responses which do not multiply the terror of these days.
Someone drew a poster of the Twin Towers, bursting into flame when the second plane hit. And then they wrote on the poster "This image will never cause me to hurt someone else."
Why have I heard none of these voices on TV?
CBS showed a news photographer who narrowly escaped death. He said "There better be a hole in the ground somewhere... 'cause if Bush doesn't do something..."
It's a very understandable sentiment. And I don't presume to question the anger and outrage. We are paying attention - and we are outraged! But why does "doing something" seem to automatically mean making another gaping hole in the ground?
In the gospel of John, on the night before his murder, Jesus spoke to his disciples.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." John 14:27
He says that peace is Jesus' gift to us. Whatever the peace of God is, it's given in a way that is different from the way the world gives. On Tuesday we saw the way the world gives. God gives us -- and God asks of us – something better.
I pray that, as indivduals and as a nation, we may recognize that not only does vengeance belong to God, but that it is not in our interest. May we abandon all talk of "surgical strikes" and "collateral damage," because we know they inflict the very terror we condemn.
May God have mercy on us. May God inspire us to think creatively, to work patiently and persistently. Please raise up voices which point us to a better way.
In our weakness, O God, may we find your power.