A Sept. 11, 2001 Memory

Posted: September 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hard to believe that 10 years have past since Sept. 11, 2001. I have a lot of memories of that day starting with the first news bulletin I heard on WBEZ. But I want to share a memory that has quietly haunted me ever since that day.

Still in shock from the horrors of the pictures that I’d seen and the news that the President had been in Omaha (a nightmare scenario for a Nebraska kid growing up in the 1980’s who was often reminded that Omaha was command center of our nuclear arsenal) – I went to church with my roommate. It was his church. Mine was far away in the city. During the service that night we gathered to pray with other members of the congregation. One of the lay people in my circle prayed that God would teach us to love our enemies. As I remember it now, I remember resisting this prayer. I didn’t want to love the people who attacked our country. I also remember thinking that now we had enemies. I had always struggled to identify the enemy I was commanded to love. Finally, I remember thinking this prayer, though hard, was right.

I’ve been haunted by this memory b/c I believe that has been the only time in the last 10 years when I’ve heard a person in church talk about the command to love our enemies. I feel confident that I haven’t heard anyone talk about it in the context of the war on terrorism or Al Quaeda. I think this is a real missed opportunity by the American church to explore counter cultural commandKingdom of Christ during a time when many have been lusting for vengeance.

As I talked this over with my wife, I became persuaded that maybe Sunday, 9/11/11 was not the time to preach on loving our enemies. It is a time to grieve with those who grieve and lament with those who lament. And indeed, that was not the text this last Sunday. Still, I’m hoping that the next time I hear reference to that verse isn’t when another city is covered in smoke and ashes.

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