Rev. Valarie Englert, Senior Pastor

Where were you 20 years ago this morning? What activity or work were you engaged in? Who were you with?

It is a day for remembering … 

Twenty years ago this morning, I was getting ready to head out to make some hospital visits.

Our daughter, Eva, was already on her way to school, having been dropped off at the bus stop earlier that morning.

The radio news was playing as usual – listening to the news was part of my morning routine along with a cup of coffee as Rick and I both went about getting ready for the day.

(It’s odd – I just now realized I don’t listen to the news in the morning anymore … )

I heard a newscaster say that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center Towers in lower Manhattan.

“Hey Rick, did you hear that? I wonder how the pilot got so disoriented?”

The Twin Towers were a landmark our family always looked for as we flew into Newark Airport to visit Rick’s family on the Jersey Shore.

“There they are,” Rick would point out to Eva, “and there’s the Statue of Liberty.” We never tired of looking for those landmarks.

As the minutes unfolded, it became achingly, brutally clear that we weren’t dealing with a small plane or a disoriented pilot.

There were several hospitals to visit that day, and in each one, the waiting areas and hallways were filled with the sounds of televisions, the scenes on repeat, commentators’ voices trying to make sense of what was happening in Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, and New York City.

Those news reels, with their sounds and heart-breaking scenes, have been showing up in documentaries and news stories over the last couple of weeks leading up to this 20th anniversary.

I wince every time I see those scenes. I wonder if you do, too.

9/11 is a milestone of pain and trauma we share together.

The pain runs deep, and has altered our path as a nation, our understanding of who we thought we were, and who we are.

Perhaps 9/11 has made us more divided, more fearful. Stories of trauma and loss tend to play out that way.

But we are also more deeply connected.

Each sigh of remembrance, each shudder of horror, runs along invisible – but very real – lines of shared life and experience.

The people of Christ’s Way live within an experience of shared loss and trauma that goes back 2,100 years.

But we also live in the shared experience that loss and pain aren’t all there is.

God has something better in mind than trauma, and will go to unimagined lengths to pull us out of our tombs.

Today, let us remember our collective pain, our lament an offering to God-in-Christ who tenderly receives and transforms our sadness.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

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