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Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Intersection of Church and State

The Intersection of Church and State a video produced by Lutheran Hour Ministries.

In the U.S. the relationship between church and state is an energetic one. Voices and viewpoints line up across the spectrum. Some would argue from history there should be a "wall of separation" between the two. Others maintain co-existence is not only necessary and inevitable, but can lead to positive results. In real life, church and state do operate in similar spheres-both conflictingly and cooperatively. See how they interconnect in The Intersection of Church & State.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

CrossTalk: Seventyseven

Eleven years ago this morning at 8:46 in New York City, a Boeing 767 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Eighty-one passengers were instantly killed together with unknown numbers at the point of impact. It was 6:46 AM in Evanston, fourteen minutes before sunrise and; like the dawn itself, the reality of the impact had not yet come upon us. Initial reports treated it as a tragic accident.

Then, at 10:03 a second airplane with 56 passengers aboard, impacted the South Tower. In a brilliant flash of clarity, we all understood the deliberate act of destruction. And with that dawning, our perception of the world changed.

Evil dawned on America's east as it never had in the previous 225 years of our existence. The poignant pictures of people falling to their deaths prevented all attempts to dehumanize the destruction. As much as we might wish to see it as airplanes attacking towers, it was not that.

Rather, hundreds of innocent passengers were violently turned into human missiles directed at thousands more people who were guilty of nothing more than going to work. Secretaries, book-keepers, assistants and executives, janitors, firefighters, maintenance workers... these are the real victims of evil -- not buildings and airplanes, nations and religions. Evil cannot be wished away, nor, on that day, it could not be ignored.

Policemen, firefighters, and governments in general are established to defend us from evil. They valiantly strove to do so on that day, and they are still striving to do so. But despite their best and most heroic efforts, they cannot protect you from everyone who would do evil to you. And so, there is still more to be learned.

Not only do we need to identify evil for what it is, resisting every attempt to soft-peddle it, we also need to know how to answer it when it breaks through every line of defense to strike us personally. Here too, God has a lesson in 9-11. Look again at the time of the two impacts: 8:46 and 10:03. Amid all the variables of flight delays, ground speed, navigational choices and wind currents, there were exactly 77 minutes between the first impact and the second.

I don't believe in coincidence. I know that God is never absent from our world--not even from its darkest moments. Even in the midst of evil events and evil intent, the One who gave Himself to the world on a darkened Friday always leaves His footprints in the sands of time.

These seventy-seven minutes, lead us to recalls a conversation between Jesus and Peter: “Peter came up and said to [Jesus], "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

Forgiveness conquers evil. Right in the middle of the unfathomable evil of 9-11, Jesus reminds us of His unfathomable forgiveness. This same forgiveness is for you: for the forgiveness of your evils, and for your forgiveness of others’. Even the victims of the worst physical evil are not doomed to the fate of becoming evil in response. Jesus frees us from that; and the seventy-seven minutes reminds us of that.