On September 11th, 2001, Michelle and I were in Kingston, Jamaica. We had been there for a year as church-planting missionaries. That morning I was down the road at our co-workers house feeding their rabbits. Our co-workers, the Kay family, were out of town, and we were taking care of things for them. Michelle called me on my cell phone. She said, “Go inside and turn on the Kay’s TV, there’s been an incident in New York City.”
I urgently finished feeding the bunnies, ran inside and switched on our co-workers’ TV. In Kingston, normal cable packages had plenty of American TV, so coverage of 9/11 was easy to find. I couldn’t believe my eyes. What was going on? I realized I was alone, and I didn’t like that feeling at all. What I was seeing on the TV was momentous, and I needed to be with my family. I finished up at my co-workers and headed up the hill to our house, where Michelle and I watched the TV the rest of the day in shock.
We also had a very strange feeling of disconnectedness, being away from our country when it was going through something so awful. While none of us knew what the future held, as there could easily have been more attacks coming, we still wanted to get home.
Do you remember how you felt on 9/11?
In the days and weeks before 9/11, we were finishing up our time in Jamaica. We had actually purchased our airline tickets home before 9/11 happened, scheduled to fly home two weeks after 9/11. It was sketchy there for a few days whether or not we’d be able to fly, or if we would have to wait a while. But we didn’t have to wait. I remember, however, as news coverage about 9/11 was nonstop for a long time, that there as another feeling growing inside me. Anger. Frustration. My country had been attacked. Thousands of innocent people had lost their lives. It was a horrible injustice, and I wanted to see it righted. I daydreamed about signing up for the CIA to work on combating global terrorism.
But was that the right response? Was I just angry and getting aggressive?
This Sunday is the 15th Anniversary of 9/11, now called Patriot Day. To prepare I watched a couple YouTube videos showing network news coverage of that day. I was thinking that it would be good to show a short video summarizing the events of 9/11 so at the outset of our worship service we could remember and pray. I clicked through videos, and it was like reliving that morning all over again. I was doing exactly what many of us were doing 15 years ago, eyes glued to the TV. It was raw. There’s no way I could show that in a worship service. Huge jet planes ramming into the Twin Towers, massive fireball explosions, and finally, the towers imploding on themselves in giant clouds of dust and debris. First responders covered in soot, rushing into piles of rubble. Not to mention the tragedies at the Pentagon and Shanksville. When you see those images you don’t immediately see the lives lost. But those lives are the greatest tragedy of 9/11 and the war that followed, a war that still continues to this day. Watching those videos, thinking about lost lives, I started feeling very upset again.
On the 15th anniversary of 9/11, we would do well to ask “What does the Bible say about war and peace?” It is not so clear-cut as you might think. How should Christians think about war and peace? In Lancaster County we have a long heritage of religious traditions that advocate for non-violent peaceful resistance. We also have many Christians that ardently support the military. Both support their cause from Biblical teaching.
Who is right? Who is wrong?
We’re going to talk about that this Sunday at Faith Church, as we continue our series on Life in These United States. We welcome you to join us!