August 25, 2011

Marking 9/11

With the 10[1] anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon falling on a Sunday next month, most churches are developing some way to respond. At St. Andrew’s, Seattle, we will hold a service of Light and Remembrance on the eve of the anniversary of what has come to be known as simply “9/11.” In an evening of candle lighting and chant all of us will be offered the opportunity to enter into contemplation on the meaning of those horrific acts ten years ago. We will mourn the loss of life that day, the loss of all the lives that the aftermath and reaction to those events have caused, and pray for peace for our troubled future.

Peace will require reconciliation. To help us understand the mystery of the possibility of true reconciliation, Kathryn Reichert will begin a class entitled “Reconciliation in the 21st Century,” on Sept. 12 which will run for three Monday evenings. Kathryn recently completed a dissertation titled, “Talking Back to God” focusing on Lamentation in Scripture.

Peace will require understanding. To help us understand more deeply the tenets and principles of Islam, particularly those that focus on reconciliation and peace, Dr. Ann Holmes Redding will be leading a class during the autumn quarter for the Center at St. Andrew’s. Her topic will be, “"Making Peace with Islam: An Introduction." Ann is a former Episcopal priest who has converted to Islam.

Peace will require forgiveness. This may be hardest of all. How to forgive for an event whose scale of tragedy still looms so large over our entire culture, especially when the organization which perpetrated the act still seeks our destruction? But forgiveness is not a contract between two parties. Forgiveness is a state of grace bestowed freely by the Holy Spirit in response to the gifts of Jesus Christ that is available to all of us. Forgiveness is a form of prayer, a spiritual discipline, a posture we can choose to take toward a world full of violence, pain and betrayal.

I would love to hear how other churches are using this tragic anniversary to advance peace, reconciliation, understanding and forgiveness. Please respond to this blog and share what is going on in your faith community. I hope the season surrounding our commemoration of the tragedy of 9/11 takes us deeper into a spiritual life of reconciliation. It is the truest way we can honor those we mourn.

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