Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“Even when I walk, through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”
Psalm 23: 4 (NLT)
It’s been another tough week for us as a nation. It’s been especially tough for our friends, neighbors—our family—in Boston and the surrounding towns. Struck with a horrific act on Monday, committed by evil cowards, the Boston Marathon ended differently this year than in years past—with two bombs detonating and killing three of our own and injuring one-hundred and eighty others.
One of the known attackers died after begin shot in a standoff with the police, and law enforcement arrested the other, while remembrances were lifted for those lost, and medical treatment continued for those hurt.
And as a city and nation we have shown our usual response—moving beyond resilience, to unity and on to defiance. Things like this only bring us together and make us stronger—they shore up our resolve to put an end to all who would lurk as cowards in the dark corners of alleys and the side streets of life they consider to be home.
Whether it was in the midst of the loudest rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” ever remembered, as proudly and defiantly sung by 17,565 in attendance at the Boston Garden the other night before the Boston Bruins hockey game with the Buffalo Sabres—we came together. Or within the thousands of citizens in town after town in Massachusetts coming out to celebrate together, to wave the American flag, and sing God Bless America after the second coward was caught cowering in a boat.
However, it was the celebration at Boston’s historic Fenway Park before, during and after the Red Sox baseball game and victory over the Kansas City Royals that put a capstone on the moment. With an enormous American flag draped across the thirty-seven foot high Green Monster which is the left field wall at Fenway, covering for a time the “B—Strong” (Boston Strong) logo which had been painted on the Green Monster that week, the ceremonies began with a video honoring the victims. First pitch ceremonies then began with the Governor of Massachusetts, Mayor of Boston, and Dick and Rick Hoyt, father and son duo (the son with Cerebral Palsy) who have been a fixture competing in the Boston Marathon for twenty years. And then all there were surprised as Neil Diamond showed up at the ballpark on his own, to sing “Sweet Caroline” on the field during the eighth inning of the game.
But among all of that and more, it was the Boston Red Sox slugger, David Ortiz—Big Papi—to the hometown faithful, who moved everyone to tears, and who captured the moment and the sentiment of the crowd on live television and radio with a statement less than suitable for younger ears, but apropos for the moment. A statement of that ilk would have ordinarily drawn fines in the neighborhood of a million dollars or more from the FCC against any networks airing such remarks, but which instead drew a tweet from Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the FCC, stating:
“David Ortiz spoke from the heart at today’s Red Sox game.
I stand with Big Papi and the people of Boston.”
But the most important of attributes of who we are as a nation, and which joins us together against all and any who would come against even just one of us, was demonstrated once again in those moments this past week where we were drawn together in quiet solidarity, hand-in-hand in neighborhoods, on street corners, assisting the injured and their families, giving blood, and kneeling, standing, sitting silently in prayer for them, each other and our nation.
It is the best part of our foundations as a nation, as so eloquently expressed by the Reverend Billy Graham at the National Day of Prayer held only days after the September 11, 2001 attacks on our nation, when he shared, in part, the following—
“We all watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on solid foundations were examples of the prosperity and creativity of America. When damaged those buildings eventually plummeted to the ground imploding in upon themselves…
Therein lies the truth of that old hymn that Andrew Young quoted. Yes, our Nation has been attacked, buildings destroyed, lives lost, but now we have a choice whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people and as a Nation, or whether we choose to become stronger through all of this struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation.
And I believe that we’re in the process of starting to rebuild that foundation, that foundation is our trust in God. That’s what this service is all about. And in that faith, we have the strength to endure something as difficult and horrendous as what we’ve experienced this week.
This has been a terrible week with many tears, but also it’s been a week of great faith. Churches all across the country have called prayer meetings. And today is a day that they’re celebrating not only in this Country, but in many parts of the world. And in the words of that familiar hymn [“How Firm a Foundation,”] that [Ambassador] Andrew Young [quoted a few years earlier at the National Prayer Breakfast after the tragic death of his wife, we find comfort and resolve together]:
“’Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
for I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.’”
Reverend Graham closed his remarks that day with this:
“My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us & will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us, as we trust in Him…and this is going to be a day that we will remember—as a day of Victory.”
Thank you Reverend Graham—we know that, we believe that, and we will remember that message today and always.
And we will forever sense God’s hand in the midst of our lives—whether on the brightest of sunlit mountaintops, or in the deepest of dark valleys we walk through—as we draw together around Him individually, and as a nation, as a people, as friends, neighbors, and as a family, as children of the living God, everywhere, always and forever—
“…one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2013. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.