September 11, 2001...I was not there at ground zero, but I could feel the panic and confusion and I could smell and taste the toxic fumes in the air as I watched the scene play out across our nation and I prayed without ceasing on that day and for days to come.
There was a brief, shining moment in the days that followed that our country was truly one….when churches were full of people gathered together, holding hands and praying in unison….when we banded together regardless of political convictions and backgrounds and economic status. There was a time that we were all full of patriotic spirit, waving our American flags in communion and defiance to those who would try to attack us….one nation under God.
But that brief, shining moment quickly passed. We became more politically, economically and religiously divided than we had been in years. We fought a long, drawn-out divisive battle on foreign soil and back at home we weren't any better for it…waging battles in capitol buildings, on Wall Street and from the pulpits.
We learned to wait in long lines at security checkpoints in airports and sporting events. We got used to taking off our shoes and jackets and jewelry and emptying pockets and computer bags and tossing out full bottles of water and packaging our tiny liquids and gels in clear pastic baggies and being scanned and wanded and patted down without a word of opposition.
We learned to eye our fellow travelers and commuters and neighbors and co-workers with foreign accents hailing from Middle Eastern countries with a bit of distrust and uneasiness. We were reminded to watch for objects left behind and to report anyone who asked us to watch their bags for them.
And we, in turn, have taught our children all of these things. This is simply the way their world works. They have no recollection of the days when there were no color coded warning systems in place.
September 11, 2001, left a raw and bleeding wound in our country. We have not completely healed and we never will. We have repaired what we could and moved on, but our community has not overcome these evils. These evils are still there, and we know it.
We know it every time we enter a federal or state building. We know it every time we go to an airport. We know it every time we go to a large sporting event or political event or concert. We know it when we turn on the news.
And yet, there is still good in the world. There always has been. We must continue to seek out the light. We must always demand truth and right from our elected officials and clergy and our fellow citizens and our kids and ourselves. We must be vigilant for evil and not allow it to creep in, but we must not let the darkness of evil take over, crowding out the positive and good and bright.
And so it is with great confidence and hope that I leave you with one of my favorite scriptures…. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." John 16:33 Over and out…