St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Edina, Minnesota
The Reverend Neil Alan Willard, M.Div.
Proper 19A, September 11, 2011
We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14:7-8)
For many of us, those words of Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans bring to mind the opening sentences of the burial liturgy. Perhaps you’ve been to a funeral in this church and heard them spoken by a priest as one of the saints who has died is accompanied on the last part of a pilgrimage — a lifelong journey toward God. Those words remind us that we are the Lord’s possession no matter what happens to us in life or in death. It seems appropriate, therefore, to contemplate that reality on this tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that forever changed our life together as Americans.
Do you remember what you were doing ten years ago? People stopped the ordinary activities of daily life to watch the news reports about those awful events. We watched them over and over again. Throughout the country, others were doing the same thing, experiencing the same emotions, and fearing for the safety of family and friends. For weeks churches overflowed with those who needed community and who had promised themselves that the most important things – their loved ones, their neighborhoods, and the grace that binds us together – would thereafter be the main focus of their attention.
As this solemn anniversary drew near, more than a few of us shared a very different kind of experience with friends and strangers. This one was a wonderful, almost magical event. Continue reading