I’m writing this on the 6th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11/01, which was also a Tuesday. Unlike today, it was sunny and clear. Of course any American alive remembers where he or she was when these events unfolded. At that time I was working for a company that had offices in the south tower. We lost several employees, two of whom I knew personally. I was also a part-time pastor, and I ministered to the employees in my office in Westchester County as the realization sunk in that at least some of our co-workers were probably killed.
I also remember that following Sunday, when attendance at church was higher than usual. People came seeking comfort, answers, whatever. We pastors tried to help the stunned multitudes with a meaningful service and sermon. I’m sure the same was true in the nation’s synagogues that weekend. Despite our collective grief, it was gratifying to see so many people looking to God in a time of need.
Unfortunately, within a few weeks, church attendance returned to its usual levels, and God was once more marginalized in many people’s lives. If anything, the situation is now worse than before spiritually. Militant atheists rail against religion in general and Christianity in particular, and there is a constant stream of lawsuits, either against the practice of religion or trying to restore rights that are being taken away by misguided school districts, colleges and organizations (see my earlier postings on the First Amendment).
I believe that we as a nation need to return to God, not just for a few weeks after a crisis, but wholeheartedly. We have been blessed by God as a nation, yet we now take credit for these blessings, leaving God out of the equation. Moreover, we trust in our military and other things rather than in the Lord. We should heed what it says in Psalm 20:7 (NIV): “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
I encourage you to return to God. The walls of the church will not cave in if you show up. Instead there will be rejoicing in heaven, as Jesus said in Luke 15:7 (NRSV): “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” We were created for a relationship with the Almighty – let’s fulfill our higher purposes in life by making God an integral part of our life.
In anticipation of the start of Rosh HaShanah at sundown on Wednesday, let me wish my Jewish brothers and sisters L’shanah tovah! Happy 5768!