(IF YOU'RE IN A HURRY, SKIP TO THE LAST PARAGRAPH AND PLAY THE VIDEO! It's worth it!)
It is difficult to imagine the pain of those who lost loved ones in the horror of September 11, 2001. I am sure, however, that on this day, especially, there is the recurring pain of grief over lost parents, or spouse, or children, or friends in the destruction of the World Trade Centers, the attack on the Pentagon, and the crash of United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania (which saved many more lives which could have been lost if it had not been for the courage and sacrifice of regular, ordinary people who became extraordinary in their last minutes of life!).
That spirit of sacrifice and courage was also displayed in the heroic, selfless decisions made by so many police and fireman (and others) who did not flee the World Trade Centers, but willingly went "up" in the towers, as people came "down," to save whoever they could. Their bravery and sacrifice remind us all about how we can best remember this day in history. Yes, memorials need to be built and visited, but is that the best way to remember those who died that day as the result of human hatred?
No! The best way to remember them is to never take life for granted, and to do whatever we can to love others in the Biblical way, with actions that help, and not hurt. I am amazed at how easily we overlook the power of kindness in day-to-day life to transform others for good. As anyone who knows me has heard me say countless times, quoting a seminary professor I had, "Love is acting in the best interest of another PERIOD." This is driven home by one of my favorite Bible passages: 1 John 3:16-18: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
Yes, we have to be strong against terrorism, to protect our great land, but to defeat it, we must defeat our own selfishness, too, and not allow those who hate to get us to focus on hate, too. Support our military in our fight against global terrorism, but wherever you are, I pray that you will allow the grace of God to empower you to sacrifice for a greater good; for the welfare of someone else. Christ is our ultimate example, those brave men and women who died on 9/11 trying to save others are our examples, too. Over 3,000 people died that day; 3,000 people who did not get to live these last eight years. What have you done with your last eight years? Have you made the world a better place? Your neighborhood? Your community? Have you loved the people (friends and strangers) who have crossed your path? Your opportunity to love others could be cut short on ANY day at ANY hour, so I hope you are looking for ways to impact someone else for good. One of my favorite remembrances of 9/11 was not known by the world at large till some time later, but in the midst of that dark, dark week following the attacks, something amazing was happening way up north in Gander, Newfoundland. Here is the video: (Oh, that we would learn the lesson of love from these ordinary people acting in an extraordinary way!)