St Bride's: Sermons

One Year On

911 - One year onSeptember 11th will always now have a resonance beyond being simply a date in the calendar. It was the date on which the unimaginable happened; when in a deliberate act of terrorism aeroplanes were hijacked and made into flying bombs full of human cargo; when the twin towers of the World Trade Center, symbols of the commercial might of America, fell to the ground; when the Pentagon was attacked; when nearly 3,500 people lost their lives within the space of a couple of hours; when America felt itself vulnerable as never before; when a watching world held its breath in horror and disbelief.

The Twin TowersNow, one year on, we can look back and reflect on those terrible events and their aftermath, ask what we can learn from what has happened, and continue to wrestle with the questions that immediately presented themselves - Why? Where was God? What drives people to sacrifice themselves and others in such an indiscrimate way? What does the future hold?

There are no easy or obvious answers to these questions, and we would be wise not to rush in with glib certainties. Archbishop Rowan Williams in his meditation "Writing in the Dust", reflecting on the events of that terrible day, warns against hasty judgements. He uses the picture of Jesus writing in the dust when confronted by the woman taken in adultery (John 8), and says:-

"What on earth is He doing?.. He hesitates. He does not draw a line, fix an interpretation, tell the woman who she is and what her fate should be. He allows a moment, a longish moment, in which people are given time to see themselves differently precisely because he refuses to make the sense they want. When he lifts his head, there is both judgement and release. So this is writing in the dust because it tries to hold that moment for a little longer, long enough for some of our demons to walk away."

(Writing in the Dust: Hodder and Stoughton 2002)

On September 11th 2002, a service of commemoration was held at St Bride's to provide an opportunity for reflection, above all for remembrance of those who died, and perhaps a chance for us to pause long enough in silence and stillness to let some of our demons walk away.

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