November 9, 1938
December 7, 1941
August 6, 1945
November 22, 1963
September 11, 2001
There are some dates we will never forget. Dates that change how we understand ourselves and our world. Dates that change how we live. They become part of the story we tell our children and our grandchildren.
It is more than a month after the attacks of September 11, and still the fires burn. I stand at Fulton and Broadway, as close as people without special identification can get to the place where the World Trade Center once stood. People come to take pictures, to see the burned out buildings, to view the memorials, and to pray. The closer they come to this spot, the quieter the crowds become. A street musician playing patriotic songs, construction equipment, and military helicopters provide the backdrop of sound. An acrid dusty haze hangs in the air. With each breath, the remains of those who died here – consigned to God”s care in the rubble and the winds – fill my lungs. Quite literally, they become my inspiration, my breathing in, taking up dwelling within me.
The events of September 11 echo far beyond New York, Arlington, and Shanksville. Everyone is affected somehow – by the loss of a loved one, a friend, or a neighbor, by the loss of a job, by the loss of a sense of security. These events will change how we live our day-to-day lives and will become part of the story we share with generations to come.
For Christians, there is a day even more important in the shaping of our lives: a cloud-covered Friday in a remote capital of the Roman Empire. A day when God-with-us, Jesus Christ, entered the depths of human existence and died – slowly and painfully, humiliated, ridiculed, and abandoned. Yet, on the third day, he rose again. He walked with his friends. He ate and drank with them. He promised he would always be with them, even to the end of the age. And that promise sustains us now. It changes how we understand ourselves and our world. It changes how we live. It becomes the story that we tell our children and our grandchildren. It is the promise that God will bring joy from grief, hope from despair, healing from pain, and life from death.
New York City
October 18, 2001