After the recent contentious months, the nation is preparing for the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001. We will be hearkening back to that time when we spoke of being united in shock, grief, and a mix of community and patriotism. As you read this, communities will be readying their commemorative events. The media will be saturated with commentary.
As I met with some clergy colleagues recently, we shared thoughts about the appropriate approach to this profound moment. Some offered the concern that many community plans could amount to an “enshrining” of a terrible event. They might have the effect of bringing us back to the memories and feelings of that day and following, but do little to help people reflect on what we have learned since – and to move ahead.
Remembering is a vital part of who we are, individually and communally. We need to continue to process the grief, and to recall deeds of heroism and kindness, as part of journeying on.
But also, what have we learned about ourselves and our world in these last ten years? About the risks and costs of our two longest wars? About living with neighbors of different beliefs in a pluralistic world? And especially, about the need for people who live with hope, and open doors to the future?
It seems right that these reflections be brought into the worship of our different traditions, apart from the plans for civic remembering.
On September 11, our worship will be a “Service of Hope and Remembrance.” It will include messages, prayers, and communion that express our faith at this anniversary moment. There are also plans for a Reflection Wall on which people will be invited to share remembrances of persons, thoughts about what we’ve learned and who we are now, and hopes for the future.
I hope you will plan to be here. And this might be an especially good time to invite friends, neighbors, co-workers who could benefit from gathering with others who are seeking hope and strength.