My friend Jonathan Fitzgerald over at Patrol alerted me to Mayor Bloomberg’s exclusion of all clergy (Christian, Muslim, or otherwise) from services remembering 9/11 ten years later. (By the way, my approach to most news is a trickle-down method, in which I allow the big news to reach my ears not by checking the daily news, but by hearing mostly what’s blowing in the wind, as it were. Thus, my late awareness of this bit of news.) Please do read Fitzgerald’s thoughtful response. If I love anything, it’s level-headed-ness.
So the mayor of New York City is going to exclude religious figures from official 9/11 programs. As it just so happens, 9/11/11 is a Sunday, and, to be sure, few churches will exclude 9/11 from their services. Millions across America will attend worship services and probably expect their pastors to, at least, remark on the terrible event. I know at my own church we’ve had people asking what we’ll be doing for weeks now.
I want to offer a brief word of caution to my American Christian brethren, however. Be careful what you do Sunday morning.
When Paul wrote the believers in Philippi, he was writing a community residing in one of the most prominent Roman cities in Asia Minor. He was writing a congregation that would typically take great pride in their Roman citizenship and the privilege it offered. Yet Paul makes the point to directly counter that identity. “Our citizenship is in heaven,” he writes (Phi 3:20).
The point is not to forsake all things Roman or all things American. The point is not to hunker down and wait for The End, where we’re all vacuumed up to heaven. The point is that Rome does not come first. For us, America does not come first. Rather, Jesus crucified and resurrected comes first. This is who you are, the ones marked by crucifixion, the ones who will share in Christ’s sufferings, which ultimately saved the whole world.
So when you go to church this weekend, just be sure your worshiping the resurrected Christ, who conquered evil, not with the sword, but through his own sacrifice. By all means, pray for America, that she come to resemble our crucified Lord. And pray for her friends. And pray especially for her enemies, ’cause they’ve been saved too.