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Joy in the Morning - 15 Years Later

September 12, 2016
By Rev. Tom Johnson

We are a community of memory, story, and faith, and never more so than today, September 12th, our 15th anniversary. This day, like our first day, was sun filled with clear blue skues. This day, like our first day, for many of us is reminiscent of the Pslamist when he says, there will be tears at night, but joy in the morning. We opened on September 12, 2001.

On 9/11 we began the day finishing rennovations in our first building. Workers from Massaro Corporation plastered, painted, and swept out the debris from all the work we had done to prepare for the next day. Sun, clear blue skies, hope, and prayer brought to fruition in this new thing God had created called The Neighborhood Academy, and filled our imaginations until one of the workers rushed in to say that an airliner had struck the World Trader Center. A television mounted on a garbage barrel suddently appeared in what would become the reception area. We watched a shared nightmare over and over again. Our city, like our country, became still in our horror. Parents picked up their children early from school to have them close; the streets were empty, quiet. Many of us fell asleep watching CNN, the towers falling again and again, the shock not lessened by the looping tape of fire and steel collapsing. The next day, we would open a school.

We had invited the mayor, Tom Murphy, to the ribbon cutting. Would he come? The streets were still empty; we were hushed in an amalgam of fear and shock, the question of 'what next' hanging in the air. Yet someone brought a smile by observing, "The mayor must be coming,  the street sweepers just went by." The mayor came, we cut the ribbon, The Neighborhood Academy was born, and we celebrated with some mixture of joy and sadness.

This day, fifteen years later, many of the same feelings remain. Yesterday, we all relived that day, the towers crashing, the lives lost. At the same time, this day, like that day, I am struck by the truth of the foundations of our faith, that God and goodness and grace will survive the night of tears. Fifteen years later, we have been witness to miracles large and small, and they have become the foundation of our belief that we are truly ecclesia, the community called forth by God's word. Teachers have lived our their vocation to pass on the technical knowledge and the wisdom of the ages to students, many of whom are the sons and daughters of want. Our students have graduated from college, found meaningful work and have begun their own search for vocation. Through the generosity of our donors and those who have kept faith with us, we have built a new home on North Aiken Avenue.

God's goodness and grace will survive the night of tears, And this day, fifteen years later, we have found anew that the promise has been kept; we have found joy in the morning.

Kathy Kiewra says:
September 12, 2016 03:42 PM CST

Thankful for this beautiful reminder, Rev. Tom. God's richest blessings on you and all of the Neighborhood Academy community.

Arlene Kemmerer Jones says:
September 12, 2016 06:07 PM CST

Such a great message as usual, Tom. Thank you. AKJ