Tuesday, 06 September 2011
No religious elements will be included
in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 9/11 commemoration service
this Sunday. Quotations and poems will be read by a variety of leaders, and the list of 9/11 victims will be read in its entirety. Unfortunately, not a single prayer will be offered for the survivors of this tragedy, for our leaders, or for our nation. Nor will a single religious leader be included in the event.
The mayor's decision is surprising, given his support for including the so-called Ground Zero Cross
in the 9/11 Memorial
and his defense of those who want to build a mosque and Muslim community center nearby
. It might be difficult to decide who should be included, as is the case for most public events. But it is a mistake to allow no one to offer prayers or represent faith traditions at a ceremony for so many grieving families.
In response to the mayor's decision, Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren
is planning a service
at Lower Manhattan Community Church
, a "daughter church" of Saddleback located two blocks from Ground Zero. The "Hope & Freedom" event
will be webcast live. Manhattan pastor Ryan Holladay
explained: "We want to give people an opportunity to process the anniversary from a spiritual perspective. It wasn't just a national or civic tragedy, it was a spiritual tragedy."
He is absolutely right. It is deeply troubling that the leader of our nation's largest city apparently believes religion to be so inconsequential to our culture and problems. I cannot think of an event in recent history so indicative of America's escalating secularism.
How should Christians respond? By viewing the mayor's decision as a call to action. Christians are "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13, 14
). Salt and light are powerful all out of proportion to their size. History proves that just a few of us can make an historic impact on our nation.
A small gathering of believers at Pentecost sparked the most powerful spiritual movement in history (Acts 2:1-12
). Anunknown German monk living in a remote village
initiated the Protestant Reformation
. A frontier preacher named Solomon Stoddard
hosted prayer meetings that led to the First Great Awakening
under the preaching of his grandson, Jonathan Edwards
. The spiritual awakening currently winning more people to Christ than ever before in history began in war-torn South Korea 50 years ago.
What do these catalytic events have in common? They were led by people who were sold out to Jesus--men and women who were submitted to the Holy Spirit, grieving the secular state of their lost culture, determined to use their influence to serve their King.
Let's join them.