It’s interesting when you go to Europe and see the places where the Allies bombed and see everything totally rebuilt. One place that stands out to me because it is a reminder of the horror of war is the Kaiser Wilhelm church in Berlin. It’s basically a huge steeple or spire that continues to point up into the sky although it has been heavily damaged and is nearly the only thing remaining of a once grand church. It is a scar that reminds us of the dark side of human existence.
Sunday, 9/11/2016, marks the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash of United Airlines flight 93 in Pennsylvania. Unlike the Kaiser Wilhelm church that stands as a monument in ruin, the World Trade Center has been totally rebuilt, a state-of-the-art museum and visitors, and shines over lower Manhattan. In a certain way, it’s hard to even recognize that the site was once a burial place for nearly 3,000 people and an enormous scar on the psyche of the American people.
Do you remember where you were when you first heard the news or, if you were in Manhattan, when you experienced the attack? There are many things that could be said about this event but let’s say it was more than a wake-up call for the American people that evil, terror, and destruction were as close as their neighbor. It may also be safe to say that the United States is different after that day. People eventually went back to restaurants in Manhattan and began living life normally, but I would have to say there is always that sense of uneasiness that, no matter where you are, you are not totally safe from heinous acts of terror and murder. Homeland Security is a familiar word, and suicide bombers are not uncommon.
On Sunday we will be thinking about those who lost their lives on that day, families still trying to recover, and the continuing escalation of hatred and hateful language that has become part of our cultural discourse.
The campaign for president has been ugly, with language often inappropriate and uncivil. Sunday mornings we hope to bring language of hope, of love, and of Good News – and perhaps, above all, words of comfort that are so much a part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of the message of our church.