Weekly Reflection (NEW!)
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Please read Job Chapter 19 in your Bibles.
September 11, 2002 was a weird day for me. It felt like a long funeral. The day started with Katie Couric on the Today Show announcing that “this Wednesday was going to be a solemn and somber day” -- solemn and somber like Ash Wednesday in the church year. Ash Wednesday focuses on repentance and asking for forgiveness from one’s sins, and while we certainly need that, I felt that this Wednesday, September 11, would focus not on repentance in the lives of the faithful, but in the longing of the soul that is the need for God.
The Chaplain’s Association at the University of Pittsburgh planned an interfaith service of readings and prayers to be held on that morning. There were many activities on campus that day each occurring at a significant time in the time-line of events from September 11 a year ago. The university was walking on eggshells when it came to the chaplains. They believed that people would be offended by any too specific religious expression in their planned ceremonies. They seemed to want to keep their distance from the service the chaplains were planning because of church and state issues.
The universities activities included a flag ceremony, a minute of silence, and a “ceremonial” opening of the chapel doors. The flag ceremony and the minute of silence were powerful and profound. The university really did a good job, but when the chapel doors were ceremoniously opened nothing was said and no attention was drawn to that event. The doors were opened at 9:03 a.m. when the second tower was hit.
At first no one moved toward the chapel that opens onto the lawn where the ceremony was taking place. Within a minute or two, however, a few people went into the chapel. Then the crowd started to move. Before long the chapel was filled even the balcony. It was about ten after nine and the service planned by the chaplains did not begin until 9:30 a.m. The organist played softly and people just sat there in thought or in prayer.
People needed God. The singing of the national anthem was beautiful. The chancellor was eloquent. The color guard was sharp. The flags for each victim were beautifully arranged. All of that was not enough. People needed God. So they came into the chapel to pray.
When all else is lost and nothing makes sense. People most deeply feel the need for God. In the passage you read Job has lost everything except for his life and his wife. He has lost all his children, his health, and his wealth. His friends have come to comfort him, but all they do is wonder aloud what Job has done to deserve all this. Job asks repeatedly, “Why?” There are no satisfactory answers. Yet still he turns to God and declares, “I know that my redeemer lives! I know that I with my own eyes will see God!” Job in the midst of despair and questions with no answers clings to his faith because he needs God.
We need God. We are not in control. Only God can conquer death, hate and fear. So we gather in God’s presence and we pray. We pray looking not for answers. We pray knowing that our Redeemer lives and we shall see God with our own eyes even if all has been destroyed. We pray seeking the comfort that God is in control and will surround us in love and peace even in the midst of suffering.
Pray for the need of God so that you may turn to God and live.