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Living & Growing: The moments that help us find faith

Once again, we remembered that day 21 years ago when the whole world was thrown into chaos.

  • By the Rev. Tim Harrison
  • Thursday, September 15, 2022 1:50pm
  • Neighbors

Once again, we remembered that day 21 years ago when the whole world was thrown into chaos. Many of us have stories of where we were on Sept. 11. For me, on that day I was living in Spokane, Washington. I came into the church office and joined the staff as we watched the towers fall. There were many tears and many more questions.

Three weeks later my wife and I moved to New Jersey where the reality of 9/11 was all too real. The towers smoked for months. Every week there were more funerals, more stories of loss, and more stories of heroism and service. Those weeks turned into months of loss, grief and anger. We also heard more stories of selfless service and heroic sacrifice from all walks of life.

As a pastor, we immediately saw more people coming to church. They were looking for comfort, for community and for answers. This increase was noted on the news and talked about for a while. Then, by the Thanksgiving holiday worship attendance was back to where it was before 9/11.

However, our church changed. While some people drifted, others found new roots and dug in, and changed others in the process. One such person worked in the South Tower. She was one of the first people to escape and walked over 20 miles to leave the city via the George Washington Bridge. On her walk, she had a come-to-Jesus moment as she reflected on her life and realized it lacked the faith to sustain her. She became an inspiring leader in our church and community.

In the Gospels we see several encounters when people asked Jesus questions, and these questions hinted that religion and tradition might not be enough. The Rich Young Ruler in Luke 18, a religious expert named Nicodemus in John 5, a woman of questionable character at a well in John 4, and multiple debates with religious leaders and experts in religious law all had similar questions for Jesus: “what we see in religion is not enough and we thirst for more. Where can we go?”

Jesus answer was simple: Me. Come to me. Trust in me. Believe in me. Follow me.

After 9/11 many people came to church looking for answers, for comfort, for some sense that there was still purpose and meaning in life. Sadly, too many left after a few months unsatisfied and unengaged. However, there were those who did find what they were looking for. They may have come looking for answers, for meaning and for comfort, and they found them, not in religion but in a personal faith in Jesus.

I do not claim that my church is greater or unique in any way. My only claim, my only hope rests in Jesus. He conquered death, defeated evil and promised rest amid chaos and a burden that was easy compared to the challenges of this world. I do not teach religion nor encourage people to be religious. I simply put all my faith in Jesus because I have found him to be trustworthy in every circumstance.

• The Rev. Tim Harrison is pastor for Chapel by the Lake.

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