I've struggled in writing this, because I don't have much to add to the sermon that I preached on Sunday without getting into the one that I'll preach this coming Sunday... so I've decided to go in a different direction and tie in some topical stuff to the Fruit of the Spirit.
There have been a couple points in my life where I just knew that nothing would be quite the same as it was before an event or experience happened. Some of them have been normal "growing up" events, like graduating from high school and college, others have been more dramatic.
I have a bit of a tradition that I do every year on September 11th... some years it's much more involved than others, but I always like to remember that day as it happened. I still remember that I was in Mr. Stewart's Algebra I class when Mrs. Mento came in and whispered something to him. When I went out into the hallway after class, one of my friends said, "Hey Adam, did you hear what happened? Two planes flew into the World Trade Center, a plane flew into the Pentagon, a bomb exploded outside the State Building, and the Mall is on fire!" At that time, I thought it would be a story in the English class that I was about to go to, since he had just come from there. I had no idea that it was really happening, and even though he did, I guess his coping mechanism was to smile as he was passing on this information... perhaps because it seemed so surreal to him. None of us in the 8th grade knew exactly how our lives would change after the events of that day, but everyone knew they would.
Obviously, September 11th was a horrible day in history, but some very good things came out of it. Very harsh trials led to acts of love and patience with each other. Out of a terrible ordeal, people of many different backgrounds came together to seek out peace, and with that came joy. The day itself will never become a celebration by any means, and I daresay most of the emotion, the pure unbridled emotion, that came out of that day is gone. But it was there for all of the world to see, if even for a short time.
That's the difference between human love, joy, peace, and patience... it goes away before we can truly understand what those feelings are. God's Fruits don't go away... they're eternal... but I always like to look back on the events of those days *as they happened* to remind me just what we, God's favorite part of Creation, are capable of when we let go of our preconceived notions about each other. When we all stand on solid ground and on even footing, there's a lot of good that can come out of that. And when I see those physical, and very emotional, reminders, it always makes me aspire to having that again... not through the evil of the attacks of that day, but through the goodness provided by God.
Some of the resources that I look back to every year (if not more) will follow.
Fark is a news website that was created not too long before 2001. It's usually a fairly appropriate website to get actual news information, in an inappropriate way. I don't necessarily support everything that Fark stands for, but the comments of the day truly show what the American public was thinking. Most of the people who normally comment on stories on this site fall under the categories of immature and irreverent. September 11th was really a different time for that website, as you can see in the following links (Be advised that these ARE internet forums during a very stressful time... the language is very colorful at times):
Archive.org is a website where various parts of the internet are kept alive. When people say that what hits the internet never goes away, I always think of this website. In this case, though, it truly is an invaluable resource to those people who are looking to remember the events of September 11 and the days that followed. Archive.org hosts the "September 11 Television Archive" which is basically three solid days of television programming, on 6 different channels. You can literally watch the news coverage before, during, and after the attacks. It's a very cool website, which takes viewers from an interview with the Duchess of York before the attacks, to the now famous "U-S-A" chants led by President Bush. You can see live interviews, and see the cities of New York and Washington reacting. The sadness is overwhelming, but so is the love.
I encourage you to set aside some time on what is now known as Patriot Day to reflect on the feelings you experienced on that day, and in the weeks that followed. That common bond is something that we will certainly experience in heaven, but as you remember, think about how love and joy, peace and patience can work into your life right now to help those who feel as if they're under constant spiritual attack and lack guidance.
Take to heart what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18
"Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."