I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing - John Newton
Tomorrow, September 11th will mark the 12th anniversary of what has come to simply but very profoundly as 9/11. A day on which according to history.com "17 militants associated with the the Islamic extreme group al-Qaeda hijacked four airlines and carried out suicide attacks on the United States". And the world, which literally, as far as air travel was concerned, almost came to halt physically and perhaps emotionally, has never been the same again. So much so that many of us can recall exactly where we were and what we were doing on that fateful day. I was at a traffic light, and about to exit our capital city of Kingston and go on my regular one hour commute to my office in the central part of the island. The radio was still on BBC as usually I like to listen to the news in the mornings. Then came the news flash of the first plane flying into the World Trade Center. News, most unusual news to be sure, but no hint of what was to come next. Until the second plane hit. And then the penny dropped that the US was under attack. And all hell broke loose after that! I called my wife and told her to turn on the TV and then tried to call my children who were both living in the USA. But by then all communication had been shut down. Confusion reigned supreme in my head as I drove to work. And fear. Gnawing fear as reports about another plane which was hijacked surfaced, and then the news broke that the Pentagon had been hit. Later we would hear details about the heroic efforts of men aboard a fourth plane which crashed before hitting its yet to be determined target. And the destruction of the WTC, the heroism of the firefighters, the madness that descended over lower Manhattan and the rescue by boats of many, many persons. For the first time at my office, doctor, staff, patients, everybody, all huddled together in prayer. For mercy, as many of us had relatives in the USA. Plus we did not know what next was about to happen as things were rapidly spinning out of control.
Suddenly it did not matter what else was in the news that day. If it had happened today, all plans for a limited air attack on Syria would have paled into insignificance. All the excitement in the media, and in the society about a Cabinet Minister's performance of an outrageous and sexually explicit dance called daggering, on a party supporter, which was captured on camera and carried on prime time news, would never have seen by anyone else but the local persons. The squabbling associated with the leadership challenge in the Opposition party would been relegated to the fine print, rather than it being featured on the headlines. Maybe, just maybe, the raping and then stabbing repeatedly of a young girl by her dad, might have made the news, as this story is so horrific. And so we pray that she might live despite the terrible injuries to her body and even worse, that inflicted on her mentally and emotionally. And even the fact that her attacker, was shot and killed by the police will bring her little comfort. Serena Williams hard fought victory over ' Vica' Azarenka in the just concluded Women's US Open Tennis finals, thus earning her 3.9 million dollar paycheck, and endearing her even more to her 3.9 million followers on Twitter, would have made history, but certainly not the headlines.
All of this reality came at me very forcibly this week, and in particular today, as I worshiped in church and participated in the Holy Eucharist ( Lord's Supper/Holy Communion). That all else is fluff! As the world as we know it, is going to come to a halt one day. A screeching stop, when Christ will come again as judge of all mankind. So whether or not our favorite sports personality is victorious in Tennis, Soccer, Athletics, Golf, basketball, American Football, is interesting, exciting even, but quite irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Whether or not we enjoy all the pleasures of this world, in conjugal bliss, or stealing love on the side outside of marriage; whether we have sampled the world's best wines, or worn the latest fashions, or splashed on the most sensuous fragrances or owned the best cars that man can make; whether we have reached the pinnacle of our profession in law, journalism, politics, medicine, engineering, nursing; whether we have been the most successful businessman or woman, whatever, it is all of limited importance, if any, in the grand scheme of life as ordered by God. And the metaphor that came into my mind was the story of Dives and the rich man. At the end of which story, after the poor man whose sores had been licked by the dogs at the gate of Dives, had gone to be in the bosom of Father Abraham, and Dives to hell and fire and thirst, Dives asked if he could go and warn his brothers. Then not only was he told that there was an insurmountable chasm to cross, and in any case, his brothers had the law and the prophets to warn them, the OT, and if they did not listen to them, even if someone rose from the dead ( no doubt referring to Jesus) they would not listen to him.
And so the Lord spoke a word in this kind of season during the week.
Both of the messages were sent to men and women in my country who occupy leadership positions and are in a place to influence the direction of the society in which I live. For good or for evil. Or just to maintain the status quo! The first one again raises the question of what's the point in life, of ignoring God and the gift of his Son Jesus Christ, if one day, He is going to be your Judge, whether you like it or not. And whether you believe it or not. And the portents are there if you look hard and pay careful attention rather than being caught up with the latest news. As every so often the Creator of heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in it, brings the world to a halt. Briefly. Very briefly. Whether allowing chaos to reign for a while through acts of war. Or acts of ' nature'. Do they still say acts of God in American mainstream media!
THE FIRST MESSAGE
This morning as I began my devotions, the well known hymn " Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of The Lord ", came into my mind. And in particular ," he is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat........O be swift my soul to answer him; be jubilant my feet....Our God is marching on".....Glory, glory, Alleluia!
And then I thought," what's the point?". What really is the point of resisting God, for His truth is marching on inexorably. And there is nothing anyone can do about it, as Saul found out on the road to Damascus....what's the point of kicking against the pricks.
I thought about writing to you my friend, but then I recalled that this Internet Ministry, in whatever form, is undergirded by the prayer:
" Lord renew thy church, beginning with me,
Lord renew the church, that the church may renew the nation(s). So why am I spending so much time trying to convince you and others of the " correct faith".
With that in mind I began reading the lessons for this Sunday. And the first one is Psalm 1. And then I was was prompted to read Psalm 2 also. Which is really saying, if you read it carefully, " What's the point of " conspiring against The Lord "
So this message is in clear obedience to the Spirit. It is full time then my friend to stop being so stubborn, and disobedient, as there is never any good in resisting The Lord, as His Truth, His Word, is always marching on. Tell that to Obama. Tell that to Portia. Tell that to Andrew and Audley. Tell that nationwide to everyone! And maybe, just maybe, people like Ariel Castro will not waste the precious life that God has given them, and help to build up each other and not to rape and rob and abduct and kill and destroy. And then be destroyed. Forever! But rather to enjoy life and life more abundantly, Forever! In and through Christ the soon coming King and Judge of the world.
" Kiss the Son, less he angry and ye perish"...which means, ... worship Him and Him alone....as you have no other help but Him in the final analysis...and He is always there waiting for you to return to Him. And not just you but all who hear the Word, day after day and are disobedient. And O my God, to what end!
Sent from my iPad
The second message carries the discussion a step further, and encourages us, to keep close to God, and remain in His presence. Even when watching Serena play. or Tiger Woods. Or whatever else occupies our mind at any point in time. And it cannot be coincidence that the Gospel today has one of the hardest teachings of Jesus. To the effect that unless we place family bonds and even our own interests second to the what God wills, we cannot be a disciple of the Lord. "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters - yes, even his own life - he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple". Luke 14:25-27 NIV
THE SECOND MESSAGE
Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation - prayer the Decade of Evangelism, many years ago.