Tomorrow, Saturday, is the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on our nation. Most of you, like me, remember exactly where you were when you heard the news and were riveted to the news screen with uncertainty and fear. The kids were at school. Robin and I sat on the couch together. That evening, the church gathered for prayer for our nation and world. Not long after, our nation went to war, a war that lasted much longer than anyone expected. Our lives have been forever changed. We’re still taking off our shoes for screening before we get on a plane. And we are still struggling with Jesus’ call to “love your enemies and pray for them.”
Today, we are in a different crisis, this pandemic, lasting much longer than any of us expected. Our lives have been changed, and we do not yet know what a new normal will look like. The prolonged uncertainty is exacting a heavy toll. Our society has become profoundly divided and we treat one another as enemies, or almost so, whether around the pandemic response or around the “other” pandemic of racism as it has been exposed in our nation.
I want to encourage you with the words of Paul to the Philippians: If there is any encouragement from being united with Christ, any comfort from his love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any tenderness and compassion … then, be of the same mind, have the same love. This phrase “the same mind” does not mean to agree in all matters. It means to have what Paul calls “the mind of Christ … who being in the form of God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made himself nothing.” That choice of Jesus to defer to us, to put our needs ahead of his own (despite the fact that we were undeserving), is a profound expression of the grace of God and exactly what we are called to do for one another.
Grace and Peace!