Even though the heat is still with us, the light is beginning to change. I’ve noticed the more golden glow of the sunset across the golf course as the angle of the light shifts. We are moving toward fall, with its wonderful burnished colors and bright blue sky. There is an internal shift for many of us. The fall marks the return of “normal” for the church year. Sunday school and choir both start again in September. Most folks are done with their vacations and are ready to settle back into their regular routines.
It was in the fall 10 years ago, a day of bright blue skies and business as usual, that America experienced the terrorist attacks on the twin towers in New York, the attack on the Pentagon, and the downing of another flight in Pennsylvania. It was a day most of us have seared in our memories – the panic, the fear, the terror of what might happen next. It changed our world forever. The United States of America, the strongest super power in the world, had suffered an attack by outside enemies. It shook us to our core. It has been compared to Pearl Harbor, and the shock experienced then. Perhaps we had become complacent about our power and influence – assuming that we were too important and strong to suffer such a disaster. We certainly know differently now.
Along with the terror and fear came great acts of courage and heroism. Americans rose to the occasion and pitched in to help in any way necessary. Our pride in our people and their acts of compassion swelled within us. We realized we would rise to the occasion, even in the midst of this terrible tragedy.
Christians, Muslims, and Jews came together to pray, as well as to offer assistance to those in need. People who had not worshipped in a long time came to churches and synagogues and mosques to reconnect with God. We pulled together as a nation of diverse people. We believed in ourselves and that we could overcome what had happened.
And yet today, we are more divisive than we have ever been. The religious divides have grown wider, the political scene has turned ugly and divisive, and the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. There is a sense of deep unrest in our country that seems to be growing rather than dissipating.
As Christians, we are called to address this divisiveness. We are called to love and compassion and justice. We are called to be a “calm, non-anxious presence” in the world right now. This is nothing new. Christians have always lived in the middle of the chaotic world, and we have always been called to address divisiveness. Certainly we don’t all have to agree with each other, but we do have to listen to, and love each other. We are also called to love those who are different than we are – whether the difference is race, ethnicity, religion, or anything else.
Many Christians of today seem more ready to jump into the fray and compound divisiveness. This is certainly true right now on the political scene. Many are more interested in being in power than they are in being a voice of love, compassion, and justice. Our spirit of cooperation that was so evident immediately after 9/11 seems to have disappeared, or at least gone underground.
As faithful Christians approaching this anniversary, I would urge us all to remember not just the terror and pain, but to also remember that we were at our best as Americans following this tragedy. We need to reconnect with the goodness in people, and pray for all people with love, compassion and justice. We can pray that we live up to the call of Christ in our own lives, and truly live out what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus was a man of peace who lived out what he was called by God to do on earth. I pray we can all do the same.
Rev. Clark is the pastor at Verde Valley Presbyterian Church located at 1500 E. Hombre Dr., Cottonwood, AZ 86326 meeting for worship each Sunday morning at 10:15 a.m. Please contact the church office for more information at 928-634-0019.