We are now seen by the world as having joined the ranks of those who know "poverty" in a way we have not experienced it ever before. There have been wars, depressions and tragedies of major proportions, but this one [September 11] somehow is different. This time the blow has staggered us. . . . We are a people of great wealth and resources who for a moment have the opportunity to join Lazarus in a beggar’s view of the world. We can learn an incredible lesson from down here about values and priorities, about needs and wants, about the way much of the rest of the world views us. It is an opportunity the rich man of the parable did not have until it was too late. It is the "wisdom of the poor." If we can grasp this wisdom, perhaps we will alter our prayer from "God bless America" to "God make America a blessing to all the nations of the world." (Pastor Richard Michel, Trinity Lutheran Church, Staten Island)
Stephen Paul Bouman is executive director of Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and author of Grace All Around Us: Embracing God's Promise in Tragedy and Loss.