I’m wondering. Did our world change, or just our perspective of it? In many ways, the answer is obvious, and it runs deeper than longer lines at the airport and more flags flying from front porches. Two wars have been fought. Thousands have died. The lives of the families of those that were lost were changed in ways I cannot even fathom. Billions have been spent. Countless tears have been shed. There are many ways the world has changed. We live in a more fearful era. There is less trust. There is more resentment.
Yet at the same time I can’t help but wonder if the world really changed, or just the way we see it. There was terror on September 10, 2001. There were people that hated America. There were people that feared Muslims. There was injustice. Innocents died. People mourned. We have a tendency to look back at our country before 9-11 and glamorize it. Listening to the accounts of the day makes me wonder if people think that economic turmoil, political upheaval, and fearful lashing out with violence are new to the world.
We live in a September 12 world, and we are keenly aware of this world’s problems, but they were not invented on that terrible day. We continue to struggle with the events of September 11 and wonder when we may get past it. We wonder how long we will live in fear? How long will we live with resentment? How long will we live in suspicion? When will September 13 come? When will healing come? When will peace come? Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! (Psalm 130).
As Christians, none of this should come as a surprise. We live most of our lives in a Saturday world. Saturday is the day of waiting. It is after the terror of Friday and before the joy of Sunday. It lies in the midst of fear and speculation. Most of the disciples responded to Jesus’ death as most humans would. They ran. They hid. They locked themselves in a room and wondered, “When are they coming for us? How long will we live in fear? How long will we live with resentment? How long will we live in suspicion?” They might have remembered the promises of Jesus while he walked with them, but all they could see were the lashes on his back and the crown of thorns on his head. All they could hear were his cries of pain. All they could taste were their own tears. All they could touch was the cold and lifeless body of their teacher, their friend, their Messiah.
How long must we live in Saturday? How long must we live in September 12?
I’m not sure I can answer that question. I know this: The disciples didn’t come out of that locked room on their own. It took the resurrected Jesus to break through the barriers that men built. It took the risen Lord to overcome their fear and their doubt. It took the loving arms of the Son of God to set them free and send them into the world to set others free.
In the few days that followed the attacks on 9/11, none of us really had a choice. We were deep in the shock of sadness and fear. I remember being glued to the TV for hours on end with tears dried on my face. I remember coming to grips with the fact that my freedom and safety was in jeopardy. My world changed that day, or was it just my perspective? Did I finally awaken to the reality of the world that had so long been easy to ignore?
Ten years later, we all have a choice. The shock has long worn off, so now we have the ability to choose. With what perspective are we going to look at the world? I have lived through the pain of Good Friday. I have waited through the despair of Saturday, and I have risen with Jesus in glorious resurrection on Sunday. I know there is much to do. I know we are not there yet, but I have been shown the way.
So now, in the midst of our September 12 world, we must choose. In your own September 12 world, which do you choose? Hope or despair? Understanding or ignorance? Mercy or vengeance? Reconciliation or bitterness? Grace or judgment? Justice or oppression?