As United Reformed Church congregations mark the 20th anniversary of September 11th, the Revd Jennifer Mills-Knutsen, Senior Pastor of the American International Church in London, offers this reflection:
On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I wish I could remember this event as the tragedy it was, rather than the tragedy it still is.
The 2,977 souls who lost their lives that terrible day were only the beginning. Hundreds more have died since, from 9/11-related illness and cancer (especially first responders) along with countless others who had their lives cut short by the spiritual and emotional distress they experienced.
Within weeks, the US led a global response to answer death with more death, launching the war in Afghanistan. Deaths multiplied: 3,500 coalition troops, 61,000 Afghan security forces, at least 111,000 Afghan civilians. Just weeks ago, 182 more people died in one terror attack at the Kabul airport.
Even though the war has officially come to an end and troops withdrawn, the forces of poverty, injustice and violence will combine for more deaths in the future.
On the anniversary of 9/11, the first faithful response is lament. We mourn each one of these souls, across lines of nation and religion, friend and enemy. We confess our human failures and our hopelessness that the cycle of death might ever end. I imagine God weeps alongside us, loudest of all, calling the name of every man, woman and child.
Our next response must be a defiant hope in resurrection. The same God who weeps is the one who overcomes the cross, who breathes life into dry bones, who makes all things new. God is at work to keep creating life.
The God of Life summons us to love, to work for justice, to create peace together. We host refugees from Afghanistan who are arriving in the UK. We support soldiers home from combat who nurse long-term physical, emotional and moral injuries. We sit with families who face empty places at the table.
The only way to respond to this relentless cycle of death is an equally relentless cycle of love. We lament, and then we love, in hopes of joining up with the God of Life in the unfolding of resurrection and new life. May this 20th anniversary renew our commitment to love and peace.
Creator of Heaven and earth, of all nations and all peoples
Today we remember the tragic events of 9/11 20 years on
In prayer, we lift to you the 2,977 people who died in the attacks on the Twin Towers,
the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93,
the people who lived on but whose lives were cut short following injury,
the civilians who’ve died in Afghanistan since the war on the country began
May they all rest in your eternal care.
Please console their loved ones, their families, friends, and all who continue to mourn this tragic loss
We pray they find peace, comfort and rest in you.
We pray for those who continue to be afflicted by these events, who live with injury and health issues, and post-traumatic stress disorders.
May they be healed and transformed by your strength
Make us channels of your peace Lord,
Where there is hatred, let us show love
Where there is hurt, help us to forgive as our Lord Jesus did
Where there is despair help us to find hope in you,
In Jesus’ name,
Additional prayer by Ann-Marie Nye. Please feel free to share and use this reflection and prayer.
Image: Steve Harvey/Unsplash
Published 7 September 2021