There are a few events that are a part of our vivid memory for our entire life. We know where we were. We remember how we felt. They shaped us. Mine include the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Jr., the planes crashing into the Twin Towers on September 11th and sadly, the events at our Capital on January 6th. I’m sure my parents would have added Pearl Harbor and the ending of World War II, including the detonation of the Atomic Bomb. Others might have added the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. or Sen. Robert Kennedy.
Each of these signature events included our grief, our anger, a desire for retribution, a loss of innocence. This was certainly true on September 11, 2001. We were united in our grief and, to be honest, in our anger that our country had been targeted for a terrorist attack. Each of these events tests us as we place our reactions against the words we read about retribution and vengeance in Jesus’ teachings and the writings of the Apostle Paul.
This past week, during our Time With Young Disciples, we talked about “verbs” we should exhibit as Christians, including “to Love”. One of our Young Disciples said – couldn’t we just love a little less love to some people who have wronged us? And the response was basically – knowing what we know about Jesus’ teachings to us, what would Jesus’ answer be? (Even though we all sympathized with his point of view).
Each of the significant events above have the element of hate translated into action, grievance turned into retribution. It’s no wonder that our reaction might be to maybe love them at a distance in our words but not in the way we really feel.
On this September 11 we remember but we do not need to hate. We do not need to take hateful actions toward those of the Muslim faith. We do not put on travel bans.
On this anniversary of September 11, we can honor the memories of those who no longer sit at dinner with their families. We can honor those who went toward the destruction with rescue and recovery skills. We can admit that terrorism can come from within our boundaries as well as what we experienced from outside our borders. We can remember what it felt like to stand as a united people on the steps of our capital believing in all our country can be when we work together. On this anniversary of September 11, we can think about how we love one another as we have been loved.