...A Few Thoughts on 9/11 and Church Life Post Pandemic (I HOPE!)
From Hal's desk... where Ron is sitting
As some of you know, Charnley and I lived in Manhattan during 9/11. The terror and the pain of that day caused immediate trauma for so many. We witnessed things which we will never forget. Twenty-one years have not dulled the memories of those first few hours. In the weeks that followed, the staff and members of the congregation I served spent hours in worship and conversation, seeking healing. Rumors abounded and anxiety and tension found a home in too many hearts.
Several weeks after the disaster, the Red Cross sponsored a workshop for care givers. They invited clergy, front-line medical personnel, and others in the helping professions to spend a day reflecting and learning together. One speaker shared a powerful insight into what we were seeing in the lives of those whom we sought to help and in our own lives. This person said: “No matter what ‘it’ is in a person’s life, whether it’s an addiction, a medical issue, a psychological issue, a relationship problem or just a stress point; whatever ‘it’ is, will be worse in the days to come…… Understanding that fact will help you help others and help yourself. Be patient, be forgiving, be understanding with everyone in your circle, including yourself.”
Let me suggest that these words of wisdom are relevant today. At one point, we experienced some serious tension and conflict in a small congregation where we were members. Objectively, the issues involved were minor, but several of our fellow members allowed those issues to snowball into conflict. All I could do was remember what that wise Red Cross teacher had said and remind myself that what was bothering these people had more to do with the anger and grief and pain of the pandemic than with the issue itself. It helped put it in perspective. It suggested ways to be loving and helpful.
Have you noticed any negative energy in your life or in our shared life as a congregation? After one month among you, I haven’t seen it, but……. Just in case, let me suggest that we need one another more than ever and we need safe space and faithful space and forgiving space and patient space. That’s why Plymouth exists as an outpost of sanity and occasional saintliness. That’s why we name Jesus as the one among us, helping us treat one another as God’s image bearers.
Now, If you find yourself having trouble doing that, cut yourself and the other person a little slack. Do your best to behave and believe in the power of good intentions. There is a biblical image of our belonging that suggests that we don’t belong to a church, but that we belong to one another and that together we belong to Jesus. That sort of thinking could save your life and one way or another make this a stronger congregation!
Thank you for the joy of being among you again.
P.S. By the way, I am available if you need to talk. Call the church (970-482-9212) and you can be forwarded to me.
Rev. Ron is our sabbatical interim minister through Nov. 16, 2022. Read about him on our staff page.