11th January 2022

Jesus, our refuge!

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28 (NLT)

St. Paul’s Chapel is one of the oldest and most historically significant buildings in the city of New York. In fact, it is the only colonial-era church standing in Manhattan! It was built in the 18th century and this classic Georgian Revival style church has seen a lot.

It’s where President George Washington prayed after being sworn in at Federal Hall in the 1700s. It’s where President James Monroe’s funeral service was held in 1831. And in the aftermath of the September 11th 2001 attacks, this little church became a place of refuge in the storm for many who laboured to help and serve the afflicted people around ‘Ground Zero’, and who brought out the dead from the rubble of the Twin Towers. A peaceful refuge where firefighters, law enforcement officers, and various first responders slept in exhaustion between shifts.

In December 2001, I visited New York, just three months after 9/11. I had booked the trip months before, and so decided to go anyway. I witnessed the continuing mourning and saw some of the aftermath of the damage amongst all the broken and suffering New Yorkers, trying to come to terms with what had happened to their great city. I mourned with them.

Outside that small church just down the road from the Twin Towers, I added a single red rose to the many expressions of condolence for those who had lost loved ones in the carnage during that beautiful autumn day, as everything began to fall apart. To me, that little church was a hidden gem; a place to commune quietly with our great God – and, above all, a signpost to where true rest from weariness and heavy burdens can ultimately be found: the person of Jesus, who comes alongside us in our suffering!

In Matthew 11 verse 28, Jesus urges us – everyone, everywhere and at any time – to ‘Come to me’! We find refuge in Jesus himself.

So, will you join me in praying for the many who are still mourning and seeking refuge?

Prayer
Our compassionate Father, please continue to comfort all those who suffer in the aftermath of 9/11 – and other traumatic events – that they may find lasting refuge in the arms of your son Jesus. Amen.

Study by Cliff Neill

About the writer:
Cliff Neill is a Minister in the Hemel Hempstead congregation of Grace Communion International where he is on
the leadership team.

Local congregation:
GCI Hemel Hempstead
Adeyfield Free Church Centre
Maylands Avenue
Hemel Hempstead HP2 4GZ

Meeting time:
Sunday 10:30am

Hemel Hempstead is also on Zoom, please email congregational contact below to get the link

Local congregational contact:
Shirley McLean
Email: hemel@gracecom.church

Word of Life contact:
wordoflife@gracecom.church