Responding in a Time of Need

Recently I watched on television as President Bush signed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, making airport security a direct federal responsibility. A week earlier, Congress seemed to be deadlocked regarding airport security, with neither party willing to compromise on their own strongly held positions. But, within days, the Senate and House had both agreed to a bill which the Senate passed without opposition and the House passed by a vote of 410 to 9.

We have again seen deeply divided partisanship being set aside for the good of our nation in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. I am amazed by the way in which people have set aside big differences to respond to our nation’s needs.

The attacks unified deeply divided segments of our nation and it brought together the international community in a way that no one might have expected. The public looked to national and international institutions for leadership and direction, and have been by and large pleased by the response they have received.

The public has also turned to the faith community following the attacks. My hope and prayer would be that the church would respond with spiritual leadership that measures up to the level of civil leadership that has been displayed by national and international leaders. My fear is that we will pass on giving such leadership because it might interfere with our own ecclesiastical conflicts that we consider to be far more important than the issues about which the public is concerned.

We have been given a moment in time when people, who have not been to church for years, suddenly feel a need to connect with the faith community. They are seeking answers to issues of meaning in the midst of uncertainty, they long for words of hope in the face of destruction and despair. If all we want to talk about is who can or cannot be ordained, or who is apostate or not, these seekers will vanish from our midst as quickly as they appeared. God help us if we fail to respond to them when they come to us with their needs.

Posted Dec. 14, 2001, 2001


Paul J. Masquelier is executive presbyter, San Jose Presbytery.

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