Words of the Spirit

The following excerpts are from sermons, homilies and reflections offered on the weekend following the events of September 11, 2001,  by ministers from Portland, Oregon and nearby communities:

"When I read this story of the prodigal son, the prodigal father, particularly in this week of pain and endless sadness, I sometimes envy its happy ending . . . because in this story, the lost one comes home.

"For some families, there's no such happy ending. For some families, there's no ending in this world at all. For some families this past week, the immediate ending is gut-wrenching, seemingly unending pain. Sometimes the lost just stay lost, and the people who look for them spend the rest of their lives trying to fill the holes. . . .

"Maybe that's why Jesus told this story in the first place. Maybe that's why he spent so much of his life eating with the forgotten and walking among the lost. . . .

"God is at work searching and healing and gathering up. . . . God will risk everything to sweep every corner, search every wilderness, walk down every road. . . . No matter how far, no matter how lost, no one, not anyone, is ever lost to God."
-- The Rev. Jim Mayo, St. Patrick Catholic Church, Northwest Portland

"Jesus told this parable: 'Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the 99 in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost?' . . .

"The firemen, doctors, nurses, police people, volunteers of all kinds, who came into the fields of loss after the crashes of Tuesday morning, were like the person Jesus talks of seeking and finding the one lost sheep. There were times of rejoicing, when people still alive were found.

"But no one would be lost forever. For all are in the care of the one who leaves the 99 for the sake of finding the one."
-- The Rev. L. A. "Jake" Jacobson, Trinity Lutheran Church, Gresham

"It is natural when we experience a significant loss to be shocked, to grieve and even to get angry. Jeremiah got angry about the devastation of his nation. . . . He complained, 'Look, O Lord, and consider: Whom have you ever treated like this? . . . Young and old lie together in the dust of the streets; my young men and maidens have fallen by the sword.' (Lamentations 2:20-21)

"But even as I watch them, I am wracked with pain because 'young and old lie together in the dust of the streets.' And I grieve and pray for the families who are continuing to seek information about their loved ones. . . .

"But Jeremiah also says something else we need to hear. Although God allows suffering to come into our lives, 'He will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.' (Lamentations 3:32-33)"
-- The Rev. Norm Langston, First Baptist Church of Beaverton