Fifteen years ago, the fabric of security in which Americans had wrapped themselves was ripped away as hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. Our government responded with what the Attorney General at that time termed a more “authoritarian” approach to security and governance, restricting freedoms for the general public in order to attempt restraint of terrorism. The impact from the events of that day still resonate in our society, even for those who had not yet been born on September 11, 2001.
When we go to an airport today, we encounter procedures and security far different than what existed prior to the attacks. I miss saying “goodbye” to loved ones or friends at the gate and watching their plane take off. Now we bid farewell before they go through security unless a child or disabled person needs someone to accompany them to the plane. We also encounter greater security restrictions in other parts of our life as well. Some communities, including ours, have faced the possibility that captured terrorists will be housed in prisons near them. Video surveillance of public areas has increased exponentially. Life in America has changed.
Some things have not changed. Our nation survives. We still elect our officials and travel widely throughout our nation and around the world. As Christians, we still meet to worship in public places at publicly advertised times. Even as we ponder how our lives may change under a new President’s administration, we recognize that his or her influence eventually will wane. Psalm 146 reminds us of the short-term influence of human leaders and their actions:
“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish” (Psalm 146:3-4).
The psalm reminds us also that when we hope in God, the still faithful Creator, justice remains and trust flourishes for God “keeps faith forever; [he] executes justice for the oppressed; [he] gives food to the hungry.” It concludes with the promise, “The LORD will reign forever.” Even as terrorists exert influence on how we live our lives, even as we fret about the potential impact should a political candidate be elected, even as we mourn unexpected deaths, God remains in control. He will “bring to ruin” the way of the wicked. When we trust in our possessions, our leaders, or physical security, we risk disappointment. We don’t trust anyone. When we trust in God, hope and love endure.
O God, You are the faithful provider. You feed the hungry. You ensure justice for the oppressed. You gave Jesus a mission to open blind eyes, to liberate prisoners, and to heal the broken. He acts now through us. We sometimes trust more what we can see and what we can touch. We have confidence in securely bolted doors and high walls. Working for you means that we have to risk as we climb over walls that Jesus broke down to perform our ministry of reconciliation. Even so, we grow faint when we realize the tenacity and anger of the forces arrayed against us. Strengthen our resolve. Revive our spirits. Fill us with wisdom and discernment as we ponder how to engage as Christians in society. Help us to sort through lies and slander to discover life-giving truth. Mold us into agents who bring life to a suffering world. In Jesus’ name, amen.