I think almost everyone who was around on this day seventeen years ago was shocked and bewildered at witnessing the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in NYC, the destruction at the Pentagon in Washington, DC and the downing of Flight 93 over rural Pennsylvania.
Civil Aviation came to a grinding halt and many across the United States wondered if their cities might be next. I still vividly remember sitting in front of a television at work, disbelieving and wondering about the fate of friends living in New York. It was a terrible tragedy, to those who died in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania and their families especially so, but also to those of us who could only stand in silent witness, confronting our inability to do anything to affect this unfolding horror in our midst.
But there were many on that day who could and did respond. Firefighters, paramedics, police officers and all the others who sought to bring order to the chaos. They represented our best and noblest selves on that day, and for that we should be thankful and duly proud.
For it is our best selves that are called for in these days. Jesus said;
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
Only our best and noblest selves can hope to live into this difficult teaching. And so, today we remember and mourn what was lost, and we renew our determination to stand against evil, but we also affirm our desire to be people of hope, to welcome the opportunities of reconciliation and peace if they arise. We can never make whole what was lost on that terrible day, but we can work to ensure that it is never repeated.
Here is my prayer;
Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad and all those first responders who have pledged to defend and serve their communities.
Protect them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be.
And Lord, we beseech you: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.