Sometimes you plan something getting an inkling you are doing it for a purpose, yet not having the ability to clearly identify what it might be. This happened to me when picking the date for Margaret Kendall’s Celebration of Life. Many weeks ago, I sat down with the family to plan her service and pick the date. September 11th seemed right for many reasons, but not because it was the anniversary of 9/11. Yet I was aware of it for sure. Life goes on, we all get busy and then the date is upon us.
Like many of you, for the past week I have been listening to stories about those who survived, those who did not survive, and those who are struggling once again because of the increased impact COVID has on already compromised respiratory systems from 9/11. I don’t know about you, but for me – twenty years later – listening and remembering, I am filled with an overwhelming sadness. In addition, fear, and hopelessness dance on the edges of my consciousness.
I was so grateful for the beauty and grace of God in the gathering earlier today to celebrate the life of Margaret Kendall. The context of her Celebration, helped me put this 20th Anniversary of 9/11 in the same hopeful context of Jesus’ triumph over death. First, we were gathered as a faithful community, thanks to many of you who came. Second, the gathered community came to remember not only Margaret’s life but more importantly that there is Life after Death. In this Rite, we remember that Jesus conquered death once for all, and that we can live in the certain hope that in earthly death, life is changed, not ended. And lastly, because Margaret lived her faith so transparently, she is a wonderful example of what it means to live our lives with faith in God and believing in God’s temporal as well as eternal love! She had so much faith, that we can live on her coattail and enjoy the hope (and joy) that God is still with us here on earth and no matter what, God does not abandon us!
It strikes me that there is a healthy remembering of what happened on that fateful day, 9/11. Let us be grateful to those firefighters, police, and the many, many people that stepped outside themselves to help others, even when they knew it could be detrimental to their own lives – and yes, many knew – detrimental to their own long-term health. Let us be grateful for the time our country came together to have the love of our neighbor so great, we were willing to sacrifice ourselves for others. Let us remember that God did not abandon us and hope still lives in the world through people like you and me! Let us remember that tragedy will strike again and again, but the meaning that we find in our response is that matters most – and we must always look for love as the meaning – even when it is in the smallest acts of love that we can extend to those around us.
Let us pray: God of love, Help us be love in the world to all people in need. Thank you for brave and courageous people. Help us be brave and courageous in looking to you to find what is right and good and to be that in the world around us. Help us make this world safer for all, let us be instruments of your peace, love, and healing. We pray this through Jesus. Amen.