What Time is it Lord?

(this is part of a larger article, to which I made a contribution, in Relevant Magazine.  You can read the contributions from some friends of mine, here)  As the 10th anniversary approaches, I’m saddened by the debates about how to remember 9-11, and pray that we’ll use this marker to simply align our priorities with God’s priorities of justice, mercy, and intimacy. Here’s my offering of remembrance, with a prayer offered at the end that isn’t in the original article:

Sept. 11, 2001, was our scheduled annual meeting at the church I lead in Seattle. We gathered, ditched the agenda and spent most of the evening in prayer. I’ll never forget someone crying out with pathos: “God, you said in Ecclesiastes that there’s a time for everything …” He stopped and the room waited in a pregnant silence for him to continue. In a broken voice he finally cried out: “What time is it, Lord? What. Time. Is. It?”

Ten years later, it’s still a question that needs asking.

Is it time to argue about whether the emergent church is superior to the neo-Calvinist movement, giving voice to the same kind of polarization found in our politics? If the answer is yes, we’ll fill the blogosphere with debates about who’s headed for hell and who’s not, who’s pure and who are sons of Satan. The world will shake their head and say, ironically, “Jesus, save me … from Your followers.” No. It’s not the time for these things.

In a world where dictators and extremists continue to oppress, torture, rape and indiscriminately kill, what time is it? Time to fight? Time for vengeance? Time for moving to the desert? Time for fear and banning mosques? It’s not time for these things either.

In the midst of human trafficking, rising food prices in the poorest parts of the world, homelessness and 25,000 children dying of treatable diseases every day, what time is it? In a world of rising populations and food shortages, peak oil and polluted water, what time is it? In a world where democracy seems immobilized by a lack of political will, while totalitarianism and terror wait for their moment to seize power, what time is it?

The good news is this: God’s given us the answer. “God has shown you what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God.” This is the clarion call ringing out above the white noise that, for many, Christianity has become.

Work at giving a voice to those who don’t have one because they’re stuck in the margins. Pursue healthy relationships, which will include extending forgiveness to those who wrong you and confessing your own wrongs. Walk closely with God as friend, guide, lover, so that little by little you’ll start to look like Jesus.

Nurturing these qualities won’t make headlines, but it will cause the light of Christ to shine with just a little more clarity. Ten years after 9/11, I think we all agree what time it is: It’s time for His light to shine brighter

O Lord of all the nations 

As we remember the tragedy of ten years ago, we ponder the reality that you’ve called us, not to fear, but to the perfect love which casts out fear.  You’ve called us, not to self-preservation and building protective walls, but to love our neighbors and cross social divides created by class, color, creed.  You’ve called us, not to close our hands in a tight grip around our wealth, but to live with simplicity so that we might live with generosity.  You’ve called us to do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God.  

We still fall short, prone as we are to fear, pettiness, greed, revenge.  May your holy spirit fall on us, that we, being filled with your very life, might overflow with the transforming hope of the resurrection.  Amen… Amen. 

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