Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Litany for the Fifteenth Anniversary of the September 11 2001 Attacks

I wanted to write a litany for my congregation to remember the tragedy of 9/11 together. But I do not want us to think we are somehow unique in our experience of violence, or that we are justified to fight violence with violence. I want us to turn to scripture, to turn to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, to learn how we are to respond to terrorism.  

L: Let us lament together:
P: This should not have happened.
L: It was an ordinary day, but, if we were old enough, we remember where we were when we heard the news. We may have been looking on from a distance, as those women who followed Jesus did at his crucifixion. Feeling helpless. Devastated.
P: This should not have happened.
L: We have listened to the stories of first responders, hearts racing, bodies racing even faster to get to the top floors, many of them showing a greater love, laying down this lives for their friends.
P: This should not have happened.
L: We turned to one another as Cleopas did to a stranger, looking sad, saying, “Are you the only one who does not know the things that have taken place in these days?” And the world grieved with us.
P: This should not have happened.
L: But it did happen and it still does. We hear stories of bombings in cafes. And we see mass shootings in schools and churches and nightclubs and movie theaters on the news. We even hear whispers of drones bearing our own flag striking down civilians in far away countries. Terror knows no religious, cultural, geographical, or political boundaries. In this world drowning in fear, we call out today as Jesus did: “My God, my God why have you forsaken us?”
P: This should not keep happening.
L: But God has not forsaken us. God reminds us not to be afraid over and over again throughout scripture. When Jesus was resurrected, he broke into the upper room, locked by his terror-filled followers, and he breathed peace onto them. So Jesus does with us. And with that breath, we are given the responsibility to build the kingdom of God, to pass the peace of Christ, and to live the promise of resurrection.
P: And that is what we should do. And that is what we will do with the help of the Holy Spirit. Amen.