Memorial Stones

 

These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever. – Joshua 4:7 (NIV)

Sept. 11, 2001, dawned clear and bright. Fall was in the air—in the coolness of the misty morning, in the hints of red, yellow and orange beginning to splash the hillsides, in the honking of geese winging overhead. America shut off the alarm clock, rolled out of bed, opened the curtains and let in the day. With coffee in hand, we set off to work.

By 9 a.m. our world had profoundly, irreversibly changed. By noon we’d gone from disbelief to numbing shock. By evening we vowed, “We will not forget!”

And we haven’t. One of the most tragic days in American history was also one of our finest. We looked in the mirror on that watershed day and said, “We are America.” And then we showed the world what makes America the greatest nation on earth.

America is a land of opportunity. We still open our arms to the tired, poor, huddling masses yearning to breathe free. To those homeless, tempest-tossed souls the lamp is still lifted beside the golden door. In every community modern day immigrants practice medicine, serve cultural cuisine, sell cars. Some are so desperate they sneak in. Don’t let anyone fool you. Opportunities abound in the home of the brave. But that isn’t what makes America great.

America is a land of prosperity. We have houses for our cars. We have closets jam-packed with clothes we grew out of or that we forgot we owned. We have winter clothes and summer clothes. We have footwear for every occasion. We have everyday dishes and good dishes. We have bank accounts, credit cards, investments, retirement plans. We have boats and swimming pools and RVs and motorcycles and four-wheelers and garages so full of stuff that we don’t have room for the car. We eat three square meals a day and then some. Diet and exercise businesses are booming. But our material wealth isn’t what makes America great.

America is the land of the free. We work and still have time to play. We race cars and horses and the clock. We are free to worship and work where we choose. We are free from want and, for the most part, from fear. We have homeless shelters and Homeland Security. We have soup kitchens and supersonic jets. We have policemen, firemen, EMTs, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the military protecting and aiding us. We can be whatever we want to be, go where we want to go. We can choose who, what, when, where, and how. We have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But freedom isn’t what makes America great.

What, then, makes America great?

Its generous heart, resilient spirit and can-do attitude. The Spirit of America born on the shores of Plymouth Rock nearly four centuries ago was found on Sept. 11, 2001, in the rubble that was the World Trade Center and in the wreckage of a plane that slammed into a Pennsylvania field.

Plymouth+Rock+%284%29.jpg (390×260)

On a memorial stone, those stalwart Pilgrims inscribed: “This spot marks the final resting place of the Pilgrims of the Mayflower. In weariness and hunger and in cold, fighting the wilderness and burying their dead in common graves that the Indians should not know how many had perished, they here laid the foundations of a state for which all men for countless ages should have liberty to worship God in their own way. All ye who pass by and see this stone, remember, and dedicate yourselves anew to the resolution that you will not rest until this lofty ideal shall have been realized throughout the earth.”

We will not forget Sept. 11, 2001. We will not forget that for a moment evil prevailed. We will not forget how, by the grace of God, we rolled up our sleeves and went to work, fighting that evil with goodness. We will not forget who and what we are. Let our memorial stones reflect the spirit of America.

God, bless America, land that I love. Amen.

Read and reflect on Joshua 4:1–9, 20–24.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

People gather around stones that are part of a new 9/11 Memorial Glade on May 30 on the grounds of the National September Memorial and Museum after the Glade's dedication ceremony in New York. Set in a glade of trees during the spring 2019, the granite slabs recognize an initially unseen toll of the 2001 terror attacks: firefighters, police and others who died or fell ill after exposure to toxins unleashed in the wreckage.

People gather around stones that are part of a new 9/11 Memorial Glade on May 30 on the grounds of the National September Memorial and Museum after the Glade’s dedication ceremony in New York. Set in a glade of trees during the spring 2019, the granite slabs recognize an initially unseen toll of the 2001 terror attacks: firefighters, police and others who died or fell ill after exposure to toxins unleashed in the wreckage. (AP file photo)

My Country, ‘Tis of Thee

Image by Ingi Finnsson from Pixabay

“Hear the supplications of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.” – King Solomon, 2 Chronicles 6:21 (NIV)

Over the 23 years I’ve written my weekly newspaper column, and hence this blog, I’ve avoided controversial topics. I figure you all get enough—more than enough, perhaps—of that elsewhere. My purpose has always been to give hope, to show that faith and life go hand in hand, that God cares intimately for each of us and is with us every moment of every day.

But I’ve had a heavy heart for my country—and it’s getting heavier.

No, I still will not address the hot button topics here, but I will address what I believe our response, as Christians, should be.

First, read, meditate, know, and obey the Word. Let it permeate every fiber of your being. Allow God to use His Word to transform you from the inside out—heart, mind, and soul. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

Next—pray! For revival to sweep the nation, one soul at a time. For the Holy Spirit to ignite the faith of believers and fill our places of worship—and us. For eyes to be opened to the truth, for hearts to be softened to receive the seed of the Word, for strength and courage to be Psalm 1 men and women.

Finally, be salt and light. “You are the salt of the earth,” Jesus said. “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?. . .You are the light of the world. . . .Let your light shine before men” (Matthew 5:13–16).

How can you be salt and light? Simple: Live the Word.

And while we must stand up for that which we know is right, we must be careful not to judge other folks.

“Do not judge,” Jesus said, “or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you too will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1–2).

“For I did not come to judge the world,” Jesus said, “but to save it” (John 12:47). “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17).

Judgment Day is coming, be sure of that. But until then, remember the words of Billy Graham: “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”

I just keep asking myself, “What would Jesus do?”

May we continue to pray as George Washington did on the inauguration of this country (April 30, 1789):

Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy Holy protection; and Thou wilt incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field.

     “And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

 Read and reflect on 2 Chronicles 6:12–42.

(Source for prayer: http://www.propheticroundtable.org/ForeFathers/GeorgeWashington/A%20Prayer.htm)