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2The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. 3Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. 5O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
Romans 8:28-39 English Standard Version
God’s Everlasting Love
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[b] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[c] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Matthew 18:21-22 NIV
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Ashes, ashes… falling down…
Isaiah 2:1-5, Romans 8:28-39, Matthew 18:21-22 NIV
12 September 2021
The Rev Dr Dianne ES Carpenter
“Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness,
is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.”
Do you remember the nursery rhyme Ring Around the Rosie:
Ring around the rosy, A pocketful of posies.
Ashes, ashes. We all fall down!
My mother was a first-grade schoolteacher and really enjoyed teaching that age. So, when we came to the beach – to get us to get “all wet” she used to get us in the water and we would sing the rhyme and at the last line it was mandatory to fall down…Get all wet!
There are all levels of interpretation of this harmless sounding nursery rhyme… some quite sinister suggesting that this rhyme arose from the Great Plague, an outbreak of bubonic and pneumonic plague that affected London in the year 1665 and testifying to the many deaths it caused as people “all fell down”
As I watch some of the documentaries of the events of 20 years ago, I am impressed yet again by the falling ashes and remember the unbelievable cloud of ash and dust that was the collapse of the Trade Towers in New York City. It coated the survivors and meant death for so many of the 9/11 victims both immediately and ultimately even years later
Looking back and moving forward: a time to remember and a time to heal. (2011)
Looking back is not easy…. Back there is full of sorrow, shock, terror, and tremendous loss. BUT LOOKING BACK is important because it has changed our present and our future forever… “Never Forget” is a call to remaining aware.
Statistics proclaim that: During the September 11 attacks in 2001, 2,977 people were killed,
19 hijackers committed murder–suicide, and more than 6,000 others were injured.
The immediate deaths included 265 on the four planes (including the terrorists), 2,606 in the World Trade Center and in the surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon. Most of those who perished were civilians except for 343 firefighters; 71 law enforcement officers who died in the World Trade Center and on the ground in New York City and another law enforcement officer who died when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania; 55 military personnel who died at the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia; and the 19 terrorists who died on board the four aircraft.
Of the 2,977 people who died, 2,605 were U.S. citizens and 372 non-U.S. citizens (excluding the 19 perpetrators). More than 90 countries lost citizens in the attacks, including the United Kingdom (67 deaths), the Dominican Republic (47 deaths), India (41 deaths), Greece (39 deaths), South Korea (28 deaths), Canada (24 deaths), Japan (24 deaths), Colombia (18 deaths), Russia (18 deaths), Jamaica (16 deaths), Philippines (16 deaths), Mexico (15 deaths), Trinidad and Tobago (14 deaths), Ecuador (13 deaths), Australia (11 deaths), Germany (11 deaths), Italy (10 deaths), Bangladesh (6 deaths), Ireland (6 deaths), Pakistan (6 deaths), and Poland (6 deaths).
A total of 2,751 victims were confirmed to have died in the initial attacks. Many remains are not yet identified. In 2007, the New York City medical examiner’s office began to add people who died of illnesses caused by exposure to dust from the site to the official death toll raising the number to 2997.
As of September 28, 2008, a total of over 33,000 police officers, firefighters, responders, and community members have been treated for injuries and sickness related to the 9/11 attacks in New York City, including respiratory conditions, mental health problems like PTSD and depression, gastrointestinal conditions, and at least 4,166 cases of cancer; according to one advocacy group “more cops have died of illness linked to the attack than had perished in it”. I heard that number has risen to 64,000 have received treatment.
The fact that we live in the Northeast and that two of the planes left from Boston’s Logan Airport makes this event particularly poignant and relevant….206 from MA 22 with cape cod ties. We all fall down– with the emotional weight of trauma and sense of vulnerability…
The heroic actions of people who saw a need and sacrificially answered the call to assist those in mortal danger inspired a spirit of unity and gave meaning to a sinister event…. First Responders, the crew and passengers of United Flight 93 and so many who made contributions of their time and resources were defying the gravity of the falling ashes- the ruinous evidence of anger and hatred.
Paul’s letter to the Romans speaks of the inability for tragedy to separate us from the love of God. It is the love of God that is manifest and modelled in the best of interpersonal relationships… How easy it is to aspire to harmony in our families, our politics and our international relationships and how difficult to achieve.
And so, Paul says INSPITE of the inherent challenges to attaining perfection in love we begin with the incredible inherent worth as God’s children that we all possess, and aspire to the noblest human interpersonal relationships.
When Peter asked Jesus how many times ought we to forgive Jesus proposed endless forgiveness for the “brother, the sister” but how could Jesus go on to forgive those who had him crucified as the words from the cross indicate? Ignorance he said. Was their motivation…. After ages of tragic warfare can we claim ignorance as an excuse.
Peter’s question begs the question of our preoccupation with ascribing blame rather than finding solutions. Seeking revenge rather than communication and nursing our wounds rather than healing our national and international differences. In order to Heal we need to forgive.
We know that peace will come to us and to our children only when the concerns of justice anywhere become the subject of political and social will everywhere and that no justice leads to no peace.
In striving for national security and domestic peace we run the risk of confusing might for right and participating in the very behaviors we condemn. We might fall down in ashes of our own making… God forbid.
And As people of faith we need to submit ourselves to the Just Creator God described in Isaiah.
“God shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples;” only then will the result be “ they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Ashes, ashes … falling down ….. is not a game when it means people are perishing and there is no predictable future change in the drama of human existence. Hope is found in the heroic moments of interpersonal relationships and the possibility of healing.
Opening remarks: My experience, my son’s experience
The Precious Lost Luke 15:1-10 9/16/2001
Nearly 5000 people have been lost in a relatively small physical space… Dramatically and painfully we are coming to a massive national consciousness of loss- our first reaction – find them, fix it, hope against hope… We know where they are, but we cannot get to them….
Once there was a city [a nation] who lost thousands of people – they stopped all air travel and brought in all the resources they had, and they cheered each other on and they comforted each other… and God was with them and what was lost could never be recovered …. Lives were forever change – and the good people of this land met their limits of power over death…
Some went away discouraged…
Some focused themselves on revenge- vowing that they would not be the greatest losers
Some became story tellers, preserving the memory of the unity of all for the saving of the lost
Some vowed to find new life in the midst of death – The door to God is the door that transcends life and heals loss, self-consuming hatred- if we must be changed forever shall we be perfected in love or hate?