September 11, 2001 is a date that causes 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. 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.
One day in September 2001 changed our world. But we, too, are changed. Because we have faith in a God who is in the midst of changing our world. Our world is still hurting. Many of us here are still hurting. But in the midst of our pain, in the midst of our sorrow, we encounter the God himself suffered the brokenness of injustice, violence, and death upon the Cross.
I don't have any easy answers. As I wrote in a sermon some years ago, reflecting on Jesus' commandments to forgive, I know that my Christian faith often calls me to places I am not comfortable going, and often unwilling to go. And yet, I know that Christ's way is the better way.
What Christ reminds us is that as the Church, we do not give in to fear—we do not allow fear to shape our lives, but rather the love of Christ. This is not an easy lesson to learn. The teachings of Christ are often hard.
It is a familiar taunt in times of Israel’s distress. In a world where the prevailing nation was presumed to have the stronger deity, the taunt “Where is their God?” is a taunt designed to add insult to injury. A defeated nation is a defeated faith.
It does not take airliners toppling skyscrapers to disorient us. Sometimes disorientation comes in much, much more personal form: the death of a loved one, an illness, the loss of a job, a fiancée who calls off an engagement, a spouse who asks for a divorce. Visions of the future that were once possessed now lay in ruins and you struggle to see the way. Plenty of people were experiencing this disorientation long before September 11th. Plenty of people will be experiencing this disorientation long after the nation has moved beyond that terrible day.
This then brings us full circle. When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we do not ask for its military security or for the strength of its ramparts and citadels. We ask instead that it become the city that it was meant to be: a city under God’s reign. A city wherein justice and righteousness reign, where God is present in our lives and in our world.