The Gospel According to "Ladder 49"

On Monday, when I heard about the Boston Marathon bombing, like many of us I went to the computer to read about what had happened and to watch videos from news programs. The first video that I opened was from The Boston Globe of the first explosion. What drew me in to keep watching was not the anger, disbelief, or fear that accompany such a tragedy.

Instead, I kept watching because of the people running towards the explosion: the policemen, EMTS, and bystanders who rushed to help those who were hurting. In the aftermath of 9/11, a resurgence of appreciation occurred for emergency responders. The same has happened in Boston: a deep gratitude for those who choose to run towards the chaos, often without a second thought.

In 2004, the movie, Ladder 49, told the story of a group of firemen in Baltimore, Maryland. Captain Kennedy, played by John Travolta, summarizes what we observed in light of these bombings: "People are always asking me how is it that firefighters run into a burning building when everyone else is running out. Courage is the answer." *

Indeed, courage is the answer, not just in such times of tragedy but in our everyday spiritual lives. According to the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, the word, "courage," appears 42 times, many of them in commands to "take courage." There is a choice involved in this command--a choice either to cower in fear or to step forward in faith. We all experience times of panic with our work, families, and relationships. We all will encounter "explosions" and times of fear. How do we respond? With fear that we can't fix anything on our own? Or with courage that God can help us to assist those who are hurting?

I did not "want" to see Ladder 49 any more than I wanted to watch the reports of the Boston Marathon bombing. But I knew that I needed to do both, not because of my own desires but because it was not about me. I remember listening to the late Roger Ebert's review of Ladder 49 on his weekly TV show. He said, and later wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, " ... I was surprisingly affected by the film. After I left the screening, I walked a while by the river, and sat and thought, and was happy not to have anything that had to be done right away." **

This week, let us pause to pray regularly for all affected by these bombings, including the first responders. Let us all take a moment to walk by the river, to sit, to think, and not to have anything to do right away. And let us reflect in gratitude on those who are courageous. Let us pray for such courage for ourselves. And let us be humbled by the One who ran towards us to the point of death on the cross so that we might be eternally rescued.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian


* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0349710/trivia?tab=qt
** http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/ladder-49-2004