I think each of us remembers where we were on this date seventeen years ago. I was in an art history class in high school, then in sophomore social studies, and my friends were coming into class explaining what was happening. My class was then combined with another one, and I watched the Twin Towers fall from a strange seat in a strange classroom. My school system dismissed early, and I stepped into a strange world which has never been the same.
Airport Screenings. Body scanners. The Department of Homeland Security. Afghanistan. Iraq. Terrorism. Radical Islam. All of these -- and so many more -- have become household phrases, parts of life. Our country and our world still reel in response to things set in motion almost twenty years ago. I daresay there's no going back to how we were before.
Churches continue to suffer under the strain. Congress may have sung "God Bless America" on the Capitol steps that day, but church attendance has declined ever since. The nation believes the phrase, "Science flies to the moon. Religion flies into buildings." We didn't have answers for the problem of evil in 2001, and we still don't have them in 2018. Christians remain unwilling or unable to love our enemies, and that makes it harder to love our neighbors -- especially when the two look increasingly alike as refugees flee countries devastated by similar acts of war.
Today, however, I invite us to love. Love those who died seventeen years ago by remembering their lives and their loss. Love our enemies and pray for their salvation. Pray for the families of the innocents we ourselves have killed in retaliation as we struck out against those who attacked us. Love one another in the name of God, who first loved us.