Last year, just three Sundays after Sept. 11, Luke's Gospel (15:8-10) called to our attention a woman who was diligent in looking for something she had lost, something of great value to her. She wasn't content to leave the things in her house undisturbed, to trust only her naked eyes. Her search became a furious, sweeping, furniture-moving one — aided by the light of a lamp. When the woman finally found what she was missing, a lost coin, she called together friends and neighbors and said, "Rejoice with me!"
As we mark the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks, we need to sweep away our illusions and push out of the way those things that threaten to disconnect us from the power and wisdom of God's Word to us in Jesus Christ. We need to light our lamps. We must do our own status-quo-disrupting search.
Our faith in Christ must be stronger than the seductive lure of quick fixes and easy answers to complex questions. Our life in Christ must never become confused with either the false promises of militarism or the sweet sound of utopian dreams.
Our ministry in his name must even question a patriotism that can make scapegoats and targets of poor people in distant lands. We must never lose sight of the kingdom of God, nor grow weary in preaching the good news of Christ's redeeming love.
Our hope in Christ promises a time when we can call our friends and neighbors to celebrate the rediscovery of something of great value that we have lost.
Rejoice, now, that through the ministry of word and sacrament, this great celebration takes places even in a broken and grieving world. Rejoice as people of other cultures and faiths invite us to join them in searching for ways to end the great suffering that terrorism and war, poverty and greed continue to bring.
If we could help each other sweep clean all the houses where sin rules and injustice has its way, what a day of rejoicing that would be! Let us light our lamps.
© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers