Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family & Friends,
For many of us, September 11, 2001 is a date we will never forget. As years have passed, many of us still remember vividly and clearly where they were or were not that fateful day. I certainly do. Long before I was your pastor, or even an ordained minister, that day remains a touchstone for my ministry and another clear example of God’s divine intervention in my life. Indeed, September 11 was one epiphanic moment in my life that let me know that God can and does interact in the lives of God’s people. It was divine intervention that I was not where I was supposed to be that day. It was divine intervention that I never came close to the demise and potential trauma that should have been mine. As I reflect, it is more and more apparent that we ought to praise and thank God for shielding us and not allowing us to be anywhere near a circumstance that would warrant a miracle.
I recognize that in many ways we all have some degree of scars and wounds from that day. Some of us have more than others. It is not lost on me the tremendous loss of life and the emotional toil of such a traumatic event, the deep trauma of so many who were at ground zeros in the various attacks, the grief and strain that comes from such a life altering experience, and our collective remembrance and struggle to make meaning from this day. However, what I have come to understand, know, and believe, is that out of such tragedy, heartache, and sadness, springs forth the hope and witness of God and God’s people. For a brief time people came together in the cause of love for one another. That love is the presence of God. There was a period whereby people realized that we are all part of the human family. We realized that our differences did not separate us. Instead they pulled us together in the light of human compassion. In the face of human tragedy, we seem to be our best self. The rub is that it is usually at the behest of human tragedy. It is my belief that the more we come to the place where our best self is our normative daily self, we will be fulfilling the tenets, morays, and beliefs all the religions and spiritual practices espouse. For us as believers and followers of Jesus Christ, this is living out the love of God and love of neighbor as we love ourselves.
I acknowledge that the vigilance that we must have to live in this way is a challenge. Living out the love of God daily is hard. The last seventeen years our world has witnessed so much chaos, madness, stress, strife, challenges, and problems particularly in this country. Love seems to lose to hate. Right becomes wrong, wrong becomes right, and we may struggle to tell the difference. Our society has been fractured, polarized, and overturned and many find it harder and harder to make it each day. We seemingly are obsessed with our own lives, share little regard for our neighbors, and even less for those whom we do not know. To be sure, 9/11 was not the genesis of this problem. However, in the intervening years, we have forgotten the collective moments of humanness and we have focused on ourselves: our own self-interest, our ego, our narcissism, our lives as compared to others, and we have done this to the detriment of our society. Yet, I believe that God still is calling us to be a better loving people. God is still calling us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. God is still calling us as humans to what is good. Remember in the book of Micah 6:8, He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
So going forward, let us start loving one another. Let us argue our differences from the foundation of love. Let us uphold love as the cornerstone of justice and mercy! Let love be the principle on which our morality and ethics of society are based! Let love reign supreme in this world!
This month, I want to invite you to come to our Bible Study every Wednesday at 7:30pm. We take a deep look at our favorite scripture and discuss how we can apply it better to our lives. Please join us.
Now that school is back in session I want to extend the invitation to the various colleges and universities to come join us for Sunday service. We offer transformational worship, inspiring spirit-filled singing and the preaching of the Gospel without fear or favor. We praise God in Spanish and in English and we are concerned with applying our prayers, petitions, and praise to changing this world for all humanity. All are welcome to come! Because at the Church-in-the-Garden: the Garden is Open to All!
Rev. Earl Y. Thorpe Jr.