Monday, August 29, 2011

About the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11

As I write, I watch a documentary on the construction progress of Tower One in New York. To be completed in 2013, it is emerging from Ground Zero as a testament of healing. The 105 floors will open adjacent to the gaping footprints of the Twin Towers, left permanently indented in the earth to remember the pain as well as the courage. Tower One will be as tall as the Twin Towers once were, with an additional spire that carries it over 400 feet higher, marking a path forward from tragedy into the skyline.

My thoughts turn to the 10th anniversary of 9/11 which happens to land on a Sunday. What an important day of worship it will be!

I have given some thought to worship on this day and what the human spirit is about when anniversaries like this come along. I felt God was leading us to hold services of prayer and healing. What I have in mind is not patriotic in the usual sense, but a day of remembrance and asking for God's healing for the wounds of the world. Our messages at all three services are entitled "When Forgiveness is Hard." We will open the prayer rails for prayer and offer optional anointing with oil.

Anointing may be an tradition you have not experienced, and prayers for healing might be something you associate only with physical ailment. The United Methodist Book of Worship has a section on anointing and healing prayer that helps clarify that in Christian faith, healing is not necessarily the same as curing. There are all sorts of healing God makes available to us ... spiritual, emotional, financial, relational, even political healing. The Bible affirms the call to pray for healing grace: "Are any among you sick? They should call the elders of the church and have them pray for them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord." (James 5:14)

Whether we face tragedy on a small or large scale, God can make us whole again. The ministry of healing prayer opens us to the grace of God. It bridges alienation, breaks the power of suffering, and opens discouraged human spirits. Services of healing aren’t about magical cures. Rather they "provide an atmosphere in which healing can happen." (The United Methodist Book of Worship)

When people are hurting and there is an invitation to share our pain, it is an act of hope in God. The ritual of healing prayer in our tradition does not embarrass or expose people. United Methodist healing services use a simple sacramental approach that expresses compassion, hope, grace, and a quiet confidence in God. We can bring our insufficiencies to the all-sufficient Christ, who understands our need for wholeness for our souls, our families, our communities, our nation, and our world.

I hope you will come on 9/11 or go to worship at your home church.