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Illustration: Faith, Hope

In a sermon on the Sunday after 9/11, M. Craig Barnes said, "The French Philosopher Paul Ricoeur has written about the creative possibility of limit experiences. A limit experience is an experience that is beyond the limits of normal life. It's the one you spent most of life avoiding, dreading, defending yourself against, such as death and separation. Beyond the limits of those things, we think there's nothing but emptiness, loss and anomie; but as Dr. Ricouer reminds us, there is more. There is also God whose creative love knows no limits.

"Watching enormous skyscrapers crumble into dust is beyond the limits of comprehension. It doesn't matter how many times we watch the video, it's still beyond comprehension as is seeing a gaping wound in the side of the Pentagon. Imagining how men can be so evil as to crash full airplanes into these buildings and understanding how thousands could so easily die on our own well-protected soil is all beyond our limits.

"Be clear. None of that was the will of God. It was not a judgment against us, retribution for our sins or God teaching us a lesson. Rather, the will of God is always that evil be redeemed and not given the last word. That is why God always can be found at work beyond the limits of evil's destructive powers, waiting to bring us back to new life.

"The greatest catastrophe of history happened not on Tuesday, but 2,000 years ago when we crucified the Son of God. That was the ultimate experience beyond humanity's limit, but it was then that history was given the possibility of resurrection. When Jesus Christ defeated death, He did so that we may experience something beyond our limits -- to rise with Him into a new life. After every cross, the resurrection remains a possibility. The stone that covers the tomb is rolled back, but it is up to us to emerge as a new nation. It all depends on the choices we make.

"If our choices arise out of a new vision of service and justice, if we now commit ourselves to something greater than collecting more and more personal wealth, and if we unite around our leaders and stop whining about how small a piece of the American pie they are giving us, then we'll emerge from this tragedy as a nation ready to fulfill its calling in the earth. If our future choices arise out of fear, we might as well stay in the tomb." (Click here to continue reading.)