|From 1988... My, how the world has changed.|
My twins were born four days before 9/11. We were still in the hospital with them that morning because Grant had jaundice and needed to be under the bili lights. The concerns that Valerie and I had as new parents were compounded on September 11. We were mesmerized by the events on the TV and devastated. While work places and schools shut down all around the country, the people at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland remained their professional selves. It was wonderful to see. I thought my trip to New York in 1999 and the photo of me from that trip with the twin towers just behind. It was still hanging on the wall at home. I thought of my brother and his wife who just moved to Manhattan because she was starting graduate work at Columbia University. I thought about the world that my four-day old children were inheriting.
It's been a difficult fifteen years... Yes, fifteen years without a terrorist attack of the magnitude of 9/11, but yet fifteen years of perpetual war, of mass-shootings, of global acts of terrorism, of chaos and fear. I pray for our world and for all who suffer. I pray that God might change the hearts of those who would seek to express their frustrations through hate and violence. I pray for peace.
God's call for us remains unchanged. We are called to be students of Jesus. We are called to repent and be transformed my grace. We are called to be ambassadors of Christ, pointing the world toward the Kingdom of God, which is at hand.
Jesus teaches us important lessons about how the Kingdom of God contrasts with this worldly kingdom. He warns us that it's easy to fall for the lies that move our hearts to strike back with force when we are wronged. Jesus teaches us that there is a different way to live: it is a way of hope, of peace, of real power.
Matthew's Gospel draws clearly the contrast between worldly priorities and character against the priorities and power of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus faces worldly power head on when he is betrayed, arrested, put on trial and crucified. He faces the worst that the world can dish out. He teaches Peter and all of us students of Jesus a lesson through his actions when he was arrested. At the moment Jesus is arrested, Peter draws his sword and cuts off the ear of the high priest's slave. Jesus responds this way: "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen this way? (Matthew 26:52-54)"
Christians will forever ponder the question of how we are to ethically respond to violence. We must continue to ponder. The past fifteen years have been a lesson in responding to violence and the use of power. What have we learned? What is Jesus calling us to do now?