Many people have been remembering 9/11 of 2001 as we have watched the terrible unfolding of the Paris terrorist attacks. I imagine most of us can recall where we were when we began to get the news of 9/11. I pray we will continue to remember what has happened in Paris, too.
I was moved by the Rev. Dr. E. Stanley Ott’s reflections on 9/11. He was convinced then that four specific actions follow what God is calling us to do and be. They are still appropriate for what is happening in Paris.
First, we are to comfort the grieving. For the families of those who died and in the conflicts abroad since then, life has been turned on it’s head. May our hearts go out to them.
Second, we are to resist prejudice. Say “no” to the temptation to treat with less than dignity those people living in our country of Middle Eastern descent and especially those of the Muslim religion. We are Americans, however before we are Americans, we who follow Jesus are the people of grace. May we think, act, and speak as the people of grace. Third, we are to confess our sin to the Lord.
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Our news is filled with stories of unethical behavior in our midst. We have absolutely no future as a nation if we say we fight the evildoer abroad while perpetuating deliberate sin within our own camp and among ourselves.
Fourth, we are to be prepared. Preparedness in a time of uncertainty means remaining alert to the possibility of evil and choosing not to yield completely to the false security of “life as usual.” (Building One Another, 9/11/12, Vol. 11, No. 19)
In all humility, we can practice each of these in a variety of areas of our lives. Maybe one of these is harder to practice than the others. If that is so for you, turn to God in prayer and ask to be taught and guided in that particular area. If you are bold, you might want to engage a prayer partner with each of you revealing your area of struggle and asking the other to pray.
In order to be guided as Christians, we must ask God to shape us into God’s way of being rather than shaping God’s way of being into ours. It’s so tempting to “make” God fit what we want. That’s why our daily interaction with scripture, prayer, worship and service is critical to our being shaped by God.
The general public attended worship at higher numbers for about three weeks following 9/11. How quickly we slip back into old routines. Hopefully, in more cases than not, visitors saw communities of believers that reflected care, grace, confession and preparedness. May God bless us as we attempt to reflect those traits today in our reaction to the Paris attacks. In addition, since we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, let us be grateful for all the blessings that surround us every day of our lives.
Rev. Anne Hébert, Author