Friday, September 11, 2009

Presbyterian Devotions: Light of Liberty

Matthew 5: 14 "You are the world’s light. You cannot hide a city on a hill.

The days following the 9/11 tragedy were amongst the weirdest that many of us ever experienced. To begin with, there were no planes in the sky anywhere, so it seemed empty and quiet. Mostly everyone hunkered down in their own homes, glued to the continuous coverage on television. Restaurants and malls were practically empty and it appeared as though large and small communities throughout the United States would never be the same again.

And then flags started to appear everywhere. People had them attached to their cars, in the front of their homes, and at their businesses. The local newspaper contained a magnetic flag to be placed on automobiles or fridges in every home. We were brutally broken and totally shocked by the turmoil, but we crawled out of our caves and restarted to live our lives as the means to honor the innocent dead and to defy the terrorists their complete victory.

Out of the ruined rubble of our society, we rose up and overcame the darkness of despair. Freedom and liberty were now even more precious to us because they had been snatched away from us for a couple of days. Lady Liberty still stood as a sentinel before the smoking Manhattan skyline and we became just as resolute. Our duty was to show the world not just our resilience and defiance, but our faith in freedom and our light of liberty.

Within a week, our skies were filled with vapor trailing planes carrying our people from state to state and city to city. Within our hearts, we all silently vowed that we would prevail and that this would never happen again on our watch, in our cities, and across our land. We have remained true to that promise, and maintained that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are still the noblest and highest of rights to which any nation, kingdom, or people on Earth can ever aspire towards.

Even after eight years, we are still that light of liberty which the world seeks. We are still that shining nation of strength and hope that the Earth still needs.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we remember the dark days of 9/11 and continue to live our lives in honor of those who died. We pray for the bereft families, who were most affected by the losses at the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania. Keep us mindful of those days and ever watchful of the days to come. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to


Vern said...

While I share your sadness and prayers for those who lost loved ones that tragic day, I'm not so sure that we learned any long term lessons or that the events of that day have changed us significatnly as a people. There are many things to love about the U.S. of A. and yet at the same time in my oppinion I believe that it is a bit of an idealized vision of ourselves to see ourselves as the city of light on the hill shining the light of freedom to the world around us. While some may see us that way, many others do not. In many ways, 9/11 rememberances are a false celebration of who we would like to think we are rather than who we truly are. Which is why I guess I do not fully embrace them.

Stushie said...

I disagree Vern, but that's okay. Fortunately we live in a blessed land where differences of opinion and freedom of speech are acceptable.