September 11, 2001 is a date that prompts many of us to reflect. That day—for good and for ill—has had a serious impact on the psyche of our nation, and it is only fitting that we take the time to do some reflection and remembrance.
As one who grew up in New York State and who has lived in Washington, D.C. for most of my life, I found myself deeply affected by the events of that day. And because I was in seminary when it happened, even my theological education was shaped profoundly. The papers I wrote in the weeks and months afterward all bear the marks of that day and are reflections on it. I wrote exegetical papers on Psalm 79 (“Where Is Their God?“) and Psalm 122 (“Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem“) and preached a sermon for our Psalms course entitled “Disorientation” whose major themes were reflections on September 11th.
Of course, the reflections did not end there and transitioned from grief and sorrow to sober consideration of what lessons we are to take from the events of September 11th. Questions about mercy and forgiveness, especially prompted by the lectionary passages for September 11, 2005 (“How many times must I forgive?”), began to come to the fore. These reflections acknowledge the fact that we would be shaped by the events of September 11th, but we need not be defined by them, nor shaped in a particular way.
What follows below are some of the reflections I’ve made over the years, through papers, sermons, and essays. They don’t represent the totality of my reflections since some of them—maybe even some of the better ones—were never put into writing. But these represent my contribution to the ongoing conversation about that day and its meaning for us. To the extent that you find them interesting or helpful in your own reflection, then they will have served their purpose.