From the Pulpit…

United we can stand

Eighteen years ago, on Sept. 11, an event happened that shaped the course of human events on the world stage. Terrorism became a reality for us all. The long-standing war against terrorism is still being fought around the world today. Consider for a moment what was set in motion by the terrorist attacks of that day: Our nations’ capital was attacked. Over 3,000 people lost their lives. The Manhattan skyline was irrevocably changed. The financial trade center for 150 nations was completely destroyed.
It’s important for us not to forget or take for granted our freedoms and our God who is a steady presence in times of trouble. One of the great things about our Lord is that He does not leave us at the cross. He takes us to the open tomb. He makes us to share in the power of His resurrection. The cross may loom large on the hill and the tomb is dark but Sunday is coming. We cannot let death or tragedy, even death or tragedy on a large-scale, blind us to the Resurrection. That’s the message to everyone who goes through a tragedy. That’s the message for us, especially in the wake of recent major hurricane destruction and long-term recovery struggles.
Last week, announcing itself with shrieking, 185-mph winds, Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Bahamas, wreaking destruction and submerging entire parts of the islands before continuing its punch on the east coast of Florida. Last year, Hurricane Michael struck the Florida Panhandle area, which in the aftermath was being likened to a disaster of biblical proportions. People are still struggling to recover from its impact. People are also still recovering from Hurricane Irma.
While recovering, it's easy to get worn down. It’s easy to be in despair. When we have no shelter from the storm, despair overwhelms us. Many can relate to the Psalmist when he cries out, "Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of your love. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. In Your great mercy, turn to us."
In reality, we are all an overnight disaster away from having all the hope knocked out of us and being left alone in this world. It is in times like these that we need to take heart and remember Jesus’ incredible promise to us in Matthew 18:20: "Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
This promise is made real when we come together in the company of other believers. When storms destroy our communities and we Christians bind together, Christ is there. When we come together in pain, He’s there. When we come together in compassion to help, He is with us.
We are not alone. Put yourself in the company of believers, and He will be there, guaranteed! This is where we find strength for the journey. Our Lord will not abandon those for whom He died! Do not let fear rule the day. Join with other Christ-followers and overcome evil with acts of goodness. Help those in need. Continue trusting in God and pray. United in Christ, we can stand!