9/11 means something different to each of us. It is a traumatic event, a way of life, history, a story that still hasn’t concluded. For millennials, it is the political background for our teenage and adult years. For many of our religious, racial and ethnic minorities, it has been an excuse for oppression.
This last Sunday though, 9/11 came to mean something different. Communities of various faiths and religions came together from throughout Portland for a special service. Some of us from Waverly came. We had no idea what to expect. We just knew that we wanted to stand with our neighbors and show that we love them.
The service was beautiful, challenging, mournful and celebrative. We wept for the thousands who died from that vicious act of terrorism, as well as those who continue to be affected from that event. We also wept for the hundreds of thousands who have died and been harmed from our nation’s reaction. We gifted each other from our traditions, blessing one another as neighbors and friends. We ate with one another, each one of us assuming the posture of both host and guest.
Fifteen years after 9/11, we committed ourselves to love over fear and hate. In our Christian language, we might call this an act of communion. It reminded me of the offerings of reconciliation mentioned in the Torah. Using the language of Martin Luther King, Jr., some referred to it as our living into “beloved community.”
Every week, we refer to this community in the Lord’s Prayer as God’s “kingdom.” We commit ourselves to this vision every time we utter that prayer. It is a reminder to us that hate and fear does not define us. In the days ahead, I am putting some time aside for prayerful reflection on how I can more fully live into the “beloved community.” How do I choose love over fear, apathy and hate? How do I do this with the people closest to me? What about the church? My neighborhood? How do I love those that I may be tempted to view as enemies? I invite you to also consider such reflection. If you would like to share, I would love to hear what insights you gain.
Waverly Heights UCC Pastoral Intern