|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on September 8, 2022 at 12:05 AM|
This coming Sunday marks the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
I was a college sophomore walking back to my dorm after an 8:00 a.m. world politics class. I noticed a crowd gathered in the Common Room of my dorm, so I went in to find out what was going on. In the days before Facebook, Twitter, and smartphones, the small TV in the Common Room was our main source of news. We were glued to it the rest of the day, until my suitemates and I finally wandered over to the college chapel, where a candlelight vigil was taking place.
The next time I went back to that poli sci class, the professor had completely re-written the syllabus. Our class discussions would be different from that day on, because the world was different from that day on.
You have your own stories and experiences of that day. While today’s college students have no firsthand memories of the attacks, most of us can never forget the horrifying images we saw, and the pain and confusion that followed. Nor will we forget the incredible stories of bravery and selflessness that gave us hope and a sense of unity when we desperately needed it.
Now, more than two decades later, the recollection of that day feels both fresh and distant to me. And layered on top of the memories of 9/11 are so many other moments of tragedy and brokenness that have happened in the years since—the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, the bombing of the Boston Marathon, Hurricane Sandy, the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing war in Ukraine, the shootings at Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Charleston, Uvalde, and so many others. In the face of such awfulness, I cling to two things I believe to be true:
- When we are faced with the enormity of human suffering, we can find solace in a God who knows what it is to be human, and who suffered on the cross. While this does not take away our suffering, it does mean we never suffer or grieve alone. God is with us.
- We don’t get a choice in whether or not evil exists, or when and how it unfolds, as it did at Golgotha, or two millennia later, on September 11, 2001, and on too many other occasions. But we do get to choose our response to it. When we respond to evil with good, when we respond to fear with courage, when we respond to hatred with love, when we follow the way of Christ, evil does not triumph.
One way we can choose to follow Christ is to commit to serving others as he did. Over the next three Sundays, we will offer a series of “mini-ministry fairs” to raise awareness about the many opportunities to serve at St. Alban’s. I hope you will attend, either to explore a new ministry for yourself, or to grow in awareness about all the wonderful ministries that happen within and beyond our parish.
This Sunday, the 11th, we will feature our Formation and Fellowship Ministries. This includes the Ministry of Fun, Children’s & Youth Ministries, the Men’s Group, Moms Connect, Pastoral Care & Bereavement, SEEDS Community Garden, Newcomer/Greeter ministry, the St. Alban’s Anti-Racism Team, the Vestry, Tai Chi, and the Weekday Preschool.
On September 18, we will feature our Outreach Ministries. This includes the Angel Tree, the Back2School Blast, Epiphany Ministry, Episcopal Church Women (Thompson Child and Family Focus & United Thank Offering), Episcopal Student Fellowship, FeedNC, Habitat for Humanity, La Escuelita Bilingual Preschool, the Outreach Team, and our collection ministries (Red Wagon, the Blanket Drive, the Coat Drive, and the Turkey Drive).
And on September 25, we will feature our Worship Ministries. This includes the Acolytes, the Altar Guild, the Parish Choir, the Children’s Choir, the Flower Guild, the Lectors, the Lay Eucharistic Ministers, the Stream Team, the Nursery Volunteers, and the Ushers.
Another way to follow Christ is to pray. This Sunday, we will pray a special litany in commemoration of the anniversary of 9/11. The prayers are drawn from resources provided by the Episcopal Diocese of New York. And we will sum up our prayers with the prayer attributed to St. Francis:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
This Sunday, and every day, may we sow love.
May we sow pardon.
May we sow union.
May we sow faith, hope, light, and joy.
Yours in Christ,