Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11/11 Sermon

Lord, take me where You want me to go, let me meet who You want me to meet, tell me what You want me to say, and keep me out of Your way. Amen.
This prayer was a favorite of Fr. Mychal Judge. Father Mike was a chaplain of the Fire Department of New York City beginning in 1992 and was recognized as the first official victim of the 9/11 attacks. On that day, when he heard that the World Trade Center had been hit, Father Judge rushed to the site. He was met by the Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, who asked him to pray for the city and its victims. Fr. Mike administered the Last Rites to some lying on the streets, and went to the command post in the North Tower to see where he could assist.

When the South Tower fell, debris from the tower entered the lobby and many were killed including Fr. Mike. A NYPD lieutenant, who was also buried in the debris, found Judge's body and then assisted by two firemen and two civilian bystanders carried his body out of the North Tower lobby using a chair and took him to nearby St Peter's Church. The picture of that scene has become one of the iconic photographs from 9/11.

His story stays with me, because his life speaks of how we are to live with one another. A man who rushed to do his duty, to be a prayerful presence in the midst of crisis. A man who loved his neighbor, who cared for the fire fighters under his care, and as a Franciscan monk, he also looked out for those in need in his community. Not forgetting the poor and needy of NYC. And he talked about being thankful and loving in a sermon to a group of firefighters just the day before 9/11:
“Thank You, Lord, for life. Thank You for love. Thank You for goodness. Thank You for work. Thank You for family. Thank You for friends. Thank You for every gift because we know that every gift comes from You, and without You, we have and are nothing. As we celebrate this day in thanksgiving to You, keep our hearts and minds open. Let us enjoy each other's company, and most of all, let us be conscious of Your presence in our lives, and in a special way, in the lives of those who have gone before us. No matter how big the call. No matter how small. You have no idea what God is calling you to. But he needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us. Keep supporting each other. Be kind to each other. Love each other. Work together and do what you did the other night and the weeks and the months and the years before and from this house, God's blessings go forth in this community. It's fantastic!”
He spoke these words to Engine 73, Ladder 42 in the Bronx, but it is just as true for us today gathered under the trees here in Monroe. God needs you and God needs me, Keep supporting each other. Be kind to each other. Love each other. From what we do, God’s blessings go forth and in all things give thanks to God. On this 10th anniversary of 9/11, we need to remember the life of Fr. Mike and so many others that died that day. We need to remember to love (Trinity Wall Street), to give thanks for our lives and all God’s gifts, and to hear this day as a call to compassion (Washington National Cathedral).
“This is a time to honor, to heal, and for hope,”
which is what the readings do this day: For Job, there is hope for the tree, with just a taste of water it will be reborn. And from that hope Job cries out to God, remember me! (Our cry too!) From Paul’s letter to the Romans, we are reminded that nothing, on this earth, nothing in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (It is God who holds us and will never let us go.) And in the words of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew – you are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world. Don’t lose your saltiness, don’t hide your light. Let your light shine before others, be salty, so that all may see your good works and give glory to God.

Today of all days, show forth your light and those good works! And on this day, I think we also need to sit in silence, to remember, to honor, to pray & hope. As one author put it,
“For just a brief time, I long for, in the words of an ancient hymn, “all mortal flesh keep silence,” in the face of the fear and trembling that gripped us one September day ten years ago.” (Diana Butler Bass)
I invite you into that Silence, to remember 9/11, to ponder the words of Father Mike, to hear what God is saying through the scriptures to us today, to open your hearts and listen


but don’t just stop there, remember the words of Fr. Mike, open your hearts and your minds and go in love, hope & compassion, be God’s blessings today.
Lord, take me where You want me to go, let me meet who You want me to meet, tell me what You want me to say, and keep me out of Your way. Amen.

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