“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation...” Isaiah 52:7
I met Billy Graham in 1989 as he was preparing for the Central Park Crusade in NYC. The New York Fellowship became a sponsoring entity. We gathered 300 churches and civic leaders to extend an invitation to Dr. Graham. Those churches, along with the Catholic Bishops of NYC, formed an invitation committee to formally host and plan the historic crusade.
When Dr. Graham came to the city to meet committee members, I had the joy of being his luncheon partner. I asked him a simple question; “Do you get nervous speaking to hundreds of thousands of people all around the world?” He smiled, put his hand on my shoulder, and said “please call me Billy;” then he went on to respond, “I do get a little nervous, like butterflies before a football game. But once I remember why I am preaching and who is with me, all those butterflies go away.”
One of the great men of our generation now communes with our Lord in heaven. Billy Graham was like no other—the pastor to 12 U.S. presidents from Truman to Obama; he met with, prayed for, and comforted the leadership of our country. Shortly after his death a commentator reminded us that no civilian flights were allowed in the air during the few days following 9/11, except one plane—the one that flew Dr. Graham from N.C. to the White House.
Billy Graham reminded us all that we are wounded people, sinners in need of mercy and forgiveness, salvation coming through the love and grace provided by Jesus, our Passover Lamb. We are wounded because that is the condition of our humanity. There are no exceptions. All of us can be healed in Jesus, the crucified Lord, our Savior whose banner is love, mercy, and forgiveness. “By His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5.
More than ever, I am overwhelmed and delighted by the revelation of “divine love” that radiates from the cross which “saved a wretch like me.” The power of the cross in us is well described by Henri Nouwen when he calls us “wounded healers.” We are indeed those who are wounded yet being healed; and through the Holy Spirit, can lead others to healing. What a joy!
Religiosity and dogma so often get it wrong, with tendencies toward membership and conflicts about who is “the true Church.” But religion does not save us. The Bible does not save us. Morality does not save us. Church membership does not save us. The only powerful place of redemption is the historic event when the incarnate Son of God offered Himself on the cross for us, the wounded children.
Recently I had a conversation with an ambassador from the United Nations. With an edgy skepticism, he asked “where is the empirical evidence of Jesus’ life and sacrifice?” I held up my hand and simply said “ME.” I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.
In Christ’s service,