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Eighteen Years Later

On September 16th, 2001, something remarkable happened. It was the Sunday after 9/11, and it was one of the most memorable days in my 48 years of ministry. It followed an extraordinary five days in which our skies had been empty, and our hearts had been overflowing with sorrow. Our minds had been singularly focused only on the most important things: life and death, the people we love, the country we cherished. We had been reminded of our vulnerability and our mortality, and we knew our lives and our land would never be the same.

I walked into the sanctuary that morning to find that it was full and overflowing. People were literally standing against the outer walls. There was an overwhelming sense amongst us all that we had come to this place – this holy place that we call sanctuary — because we needed two things: we needed God, and we needed one another. Where else would one be on such an occasion? On that day, church was the safest and warmest and most loving place to be. It was, in the midst of unspeakable tragedy, a shining moment in which we knew this is where we belong, where we needed to be: the safety of God’s house, the love of fellow Christians, the Grace that gets us through hard times.

It is painful to say this, but eighteen years later it appears that we have pretty much given up on God, and pretty much given up on each other. In some ways, the period following 9/11 was the last moment of genuine national unity that I can recall. We turned to God, and we turned to each other. In doing so, we were stronger together than alone. I wonder what would happen if we were to try that again.

Rev. Don Underwood