Reflections on 9/11

God's love is present, even when the world is darkest.
Dr. Sangyil Park, Associate Professor of Preaching

“Owe no one anything, except to love one another,” Paul says. “Love does no wrong to a neighbor.” (Romans 13:8, 10)

On September 11th, we observed a special Sunday called Patriot Sunday, first to worship God and to commemorate those victims of 9/11, and then to remind ourselves of who we are as Christians and citizens of this wonderful country; we also asked ourselves what we are to do together to be agents of hope in this world.

As you many of you do, I remember clearly what happened ten years ago. I still recall the frustration and anger I felt when the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were clouded with dust, smoke, and debris. I also remember how people responded to Islamic communities throughout the nation.

Since 9/11, Muslims in America have been living in fear. But it is not just Muslims. The life of everyone in this country has changed forever: people live with more fear than hope. And it affects every aspect of our life. I am not sure if it will ever change.

And today’s text clearly gives us the important message:

It is love that heals our wounds. Love never hurts anyone. Love does no wrong to a neighbor. No, only love can bring us together, nothing else. Paul says, we need to put on a right cloth, and the cloth is the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the king of peace; he is the symbol of love.

In history, however, Christians also made many mistakes. During the Crusades between 11th and 13th century, Christians waged wars to drive out the Muslims from Palestine, the Holy Land. And hundreds of thousands of people died in that efforts. Catholics killed Muslims in the name of Jesus, and Muslims killed Catholics in the name of Allah.

But that was not all. Christians killed each other too; there were many wars between Catholics and Protestants. But we know it is not what Jesus taught us to do. We know it is not what the Bible says to us. Jesus never supported violence.

“Owe no one anything, except to love another,” says St. Paul. “Love is the fulfillment of all the teachings of the Law.”

Love comes in many different forms. A few nights ago, I happened to watch Kitchen Nightmares. In the show, Chef Ramsay is invited to fix the problems of this French restaurant in Southern California. This French-born father opened the restaurant in 1972, and the place became a huge success. But not anymore; the food is not that great, though the chef of the restaurant thinks everything is fine. No one seems to be listening to anyone’s comments and ideas. The business is in terrible situation. Now, the father brings in Chef Ramsay to see if they can make any change.

Of course, the episode has an happy ending. The question is how? This is what happens. Chef Ramsay tells them that unless they make any change in relationships between the daughter and son of the owner, nothing will ever happen to the quality of the food they serve. Yes, the food was the problem; their business was not that great. But the bigger problem was this: once-close siblings now have a troubled relationship, thanks to constantly butting heads over how to run things in the restaurant. Chef Ramsay brings the family together; they make reconciliation. They realize they need to work together. The father cries as his son and daughter kiss and hug each other. After the big breakthrough, they join together to make changes in the menu, decorations, and all. The business has a turn-over. So, it is the love that makes a difference in people’s lives, nothing else. When we love each other, when we show our love to one another, there is nothing we cannot do together.

The world is darker than ever before. Although we may eat better food and wear better clothes than before, there are too many conflicts between family members, between people of faith, between people of different religions. The world is definitely getting darker each day. Because of this, our life seems to be tougher than ever before.

But here is the good news. God still loves us. The love of God that was shown through the teachings of Jesus Christ is still speaking aloud to us. And Paul said, “We need to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to put on the cloth of love.”

Love wins; love heals; love restores; love brings us to light; love keeps us in hope. Love is the right outfit for every occasion in our lives. Amen.

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