Scripture: Matthew 6:13
Sermon: “Remembering Tragedy, Rebuilding Hope” by Pastor Todd Buurstra
How did you respond after 9/11? I’ll tell you what you did. On Sunday, 9/16/11 with air travel barely restored, and no games on TV, 412 of you came to church. That’s an all-time fall record! You came because you needed to sense God’s presence. Then, thinking nothing of it, we prayed the closing of the Lord’s Prayer, as we will do today, and where we are in our series:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever.
At the time I didn’t realize how poignant that was. For what we had in the crashing of the towers, at the Pentagon and in PA, was two kingdoms colliding. My kingdom and God’s kingdom. My kingdom prays, for mine is the kingdom, the power, the glory.., and God’s kingdom prays, for thine is the kingdom… But you say, What? Osama did it in Allah’s name. No he didn’t. He may have thought he did, but he did it for his kingdom because to do things in Allah’s name is to do things in Allah’s way. And we all know that Allah is just God in Arabic.
As we remember this tragedy on its tenth anniversary, let’s remember the roots of every tragedy. The story goes that Satan slithered into Eden with the mother of all temptations
You shall be like god!—Mine is the kingdom, the power, the glory…
At the core of all sin, from the time the toddler cries, Mine!, and at the core of every, man-made tragedy, even Hitler’s extermination of Jews, is the desire to be god, the desire for a kingdom. We call that original sin. But that’s not where the story begins. Original blessing is found in the way God created us. God created us to be, in effect, God’s vice-president that serves God in the flourishing of God’s garden. Even though our current V P ends up with his foot in his mouth too much, normally VPs exist to serve the President’s agenda. We serve God’s power/glory.
In a simple picture, original sin-living for my kingdom-has me sitting on the throne of my heart; whereas original blessing-living for God’s kingdom-has Jesus sitting on the throne of the Christian heart. By asking Jesus to forgive our debts, we pledge to live for his kingdom/glory!
This morning we are remembering tragedy and rebuilding hope. Let’s begin to rebuild hope by looking at a more recent tragedy, the London riots. London’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, wrote an insightful commentary to which I owe these thoughts. The good rabbi attributes the looting and lawlessness to the moral revolution from the 60s that abandoned an ethic of self-restraint. He said that 40% of Britain’s kids are born out of wedlock, 91% of single-parent families are headed by mothers, and that a 2007 Unicef report found that Britain’s kids rate the least happy in the world. (America is not far behind in these categories.) He says the collapse of Britian’s families wreaks havoc on communities so that these kids do worse at school, are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, less likely to land a job, and more likely to land in jail.
But London’s rioting thugs are victims of a “tsunami of wishful thinking” that says,
You can have sex without the responsibility of marriage,
You can have children without the responsibility of parenthood,
You can have social order without the responsibility of citizenship…
[and that] you can spend more than you earn.
Hmmm, sounds a lot like the Mine! culture of the clash between the Mine and Thine kingdoms.
Rabbi Sachs asks has this has this happened before? Yes in the 1820s the social fabric was tearing in both Britain and America as people were moving from villages into the cities. Crime and alcoholism was up, but then the church did something. They started institutions, like the YMCA, to bring society back to her Christian roots. But one of the main efforts was the beginning of Sunday School. Most Christian kids were raised with the Bible around the table after supper, so Sunday Schools were started for street kids. And within a single generation crime went down and social order came back up. It’s time for America to turn to get back to SS.
Robert Putnam from Harvard has discovered that religious people are more likely to give to charity, donate blood, offer a seat to a stranger, assist a job search, and that religious practice is the best predictor of altruism: better than education, age, income, gender or race.
Lord Sacks closes his article quoting a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who in researching western dominance said, At first we thought it was your guns, then your democracy, then your capitalism, but for the last 20 years, we’ve known it’s your religion.
Want to rebuild hope in America again starting on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11? Bring your child, and yourself, to Church School every Sunday. Teach your family to live by Thine is the kingdom…forever. They won’t learn that on the soccer field, though soccer is good. They won’t learn that at school, though study is good. They will only learn the deepest heart stuff, right here, and from your prayers at home. For one day the curtain separating earth and heaven will go up. And we will see the universe’s throne room. And it won’t be Osama or Obama or the Dali Lama sitting on it. It will be Jesus. And then all the times you’ve prayed this prayer. All the times you lived for Jesus and others. All of life, in fact, will make sense. And in that moment, you will know for Whom the kingdom, the power, and the glory has always been.