Monday, September 12, 2011

Reflecting on September 11, 2001 in Christian community

Yesterday, September 11, was Remembrance Sunday at Christ Episcopal Church, Springfield, MO. We remembered and prayed for the victims of the terrorist attacks ten years ago in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, PA.

And we recommitted ourselves to the work of love, justice, and peace as the followers of Jesus Christ, who met and destroyed evil, sin, and death forever.

Our worship at 11 am included a special piece of music composed by senior choir member Dr. Carlyle Sharpe, who teaches music composition at Drury University.

His offertory piece at the Holy Eucharist was based on Psalm 61 and was beautifully sung by our St. Gregory's Choir and by the Drury Singers, directed by our Director of Music Dr. Allin Sorenson.

Thank you Dr Sharpe, Dr. Sorenson, St. Gregory's Choir, Drury Singers, and Mrs. Barbara Hays, our organist.

Sunday after Sunday, many people comment on the beauty of worship at Christ Church, especially the music. I like to hear those comments. And yesterday, it seemed to me as if everyone who had worshiped at one of our three services felt moved, inspired, upheld in the midst of remembering a national horror. And everyone told me so.

As I reflect on Remembrance Sunday, I realize how important it is for people regularly to come together in prayer, music and hymns, silence, reflection on the Holy Scriptures, and for that Holy Communion with Christ and one another.

This gathering in worship of the living God is especially important on occasions like the anniversary of September 11.

Marriages, births, deaths, and other human experiences are occasions in which people want and need to enter into sacred space. It is our refuge in which to mourn our losses, to celebrate our blessings, to mark passages of all kinds. And it is there that we find deeper meaning, strength, courage, and wisdom for our earthly journeys.

Yesterday, as this country contemplated the terrible events of ten years ago, many of us turned to our communities of faith. There, we remembered the departed. We expressed our solidarity with their families. We listened to God's word and sought God's guidance for how we should live. We tried to find some meaning, however small, to help us carry on in this often frightening and unpredictable world.

In a television interview, one young man who had lost his father in the terrorist attacks said he was thankful he had his father for the first ten years of his life, which he regarded as the most formative one for him as a human being.

As I think about the services yesterday, I realize how much we human beings need one another and need to be together, especially in times of loss and sadness and confusion.

I also realize that these times when we are together with one another are also times when we are together with God. And in God, we people of faith find our fullest meaning and the hope and faith to live amid tragedy.

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