I am American and I am just old enough to have remembered the events surrounding 9/11 (which are now closer to the fall of the Soviet Union than today) and the world I live in has been shaped by this pivotal moment, even if I may not be one of the many who have lost loved ones or friends on that fateful day 13 years ago. These events have shaped, and continue to shape America and the world and remembering them is essential for the North American church today.
I was in grade three when 9/11 happened and I distinctly remember listening to the radio with the class. The chapel was opened to the public (for I went to a Christian school) and a confused society filled it as our inner insecurities manifested themselves. This is for me a reminder that the Church is not a place for the healthy. It is not a place for the righteous. Much rather, it is a place for the broken, the confused, the hurt. It is a place for those who recognize that the world we live in is full of senselessness and the only true escape is the order that we find in Christ. In the days and weeks after the sight of the rubble of the city nearest me, New York, filled every channel in a mark of a hurt society. Now, 13 years later, our scars have somewhat healed, though like any major injury, the remnants are still there in the every day occurrence of increased airport security and societies continuing to suffer around the world. And in this, people no longer feel they need church as much, but it is for us who are in the church to continue to be a light in which we can show the world a better way. In remembering our hurt let us remember and help make a church that is truly a hospital for the broken, for we are still a broken people.
In 9/11 death for many was quick. It is a reminder for us as each and every day that life is short, and time fleeting. Life is, as the Bible says, like a vapour. Let us then work remembering this. Let us strive to show all people the light of the gospel. Let us, in our love, truly be known as Christians to those around us. Let us make Christ known in all things. For the Christian, the great tragedy is not that many died, for all will die, but that many will have died without knowing the light of Christ. In remembering the hurt of our society, let us also in our word share the good news of the gospel of Christ for time is short, and it only grows shorter. Let us remember the dead, and let us work ever more fervently for the spreading of the gospel of peace.
Finally, and perhaps much more encouraging, what we as a society wish to remember most is the remembrance of heroism. Of the people and workers who worked to save as many as possible. From firefighters to volunteers, the people of our society partook of the prevenient grace that God gives to all. As much as disaster hurts, it also allows us to see most clearly the two facets of the image of God that is humanity. As much as terror shows the darkest, the sight of human selflessness shows a glimmer of what God wants to renew and encourage in each and every person. When we remember those who struggled to save those that they could, let us be encouraged that God works even in the midst of tragedy. Let us be encouraged that the image of God in each person can be made known and that the increase of the beauty in each person is what we seek. In our hope, let us strive to be an even better light so that all know what is the love that has been shown to us.
In remembering 9/11, Christians have this image of why we need the gospel and what it does. In disaster, our brokenness is revealed. In life’s shortness, the urgency of the gospel is known, and in hope, the goal of the gospel is seen. This, the disaster that has most shaped my life as an American, is an event that reminds me of the need for Christ and an event that increases the fervour at which I pray Maranatha. May his kingdom come, may his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Let long for that kingdom in which war will be no more, and the peace of God may be forever known world without end. World without end.