Friday, September 09, 2011

9/11 Thoughts

I'm often asked by people why I believe that belonging to a faith community is important. Sometimes people say something like, "I can pray at home alone." Some people say, "I have a book group, I don't need a faith community."

Those discussions came to mind this morning when I watched the Today show piece on the emerging 9/11 memorial in advance of the 10th anniversary this Sunday. I found myself teary as they unveiled the memorial and the new building that is emerging.

And like I'm sure most of us who remember that day, I was brought back to that beautiful blue crisp morning, a morning with weather not unlike today. I was still a seminary student, driving to a UU minister's meeting, when I heard the first news. By the time I got there at 9 a.m., the first tower had fallen. We sat together in stunned silence around a radio at that church, one of the ministers, Rev. David Bryce led us in a very short worship service, and we all knew we had to go directly to our own congregations and wait for what was to emerge.

We learned fairly quickly that two of our congregants -- brothers -- had been killed in the towers, and our senior minister, Rev. Frank Hall, went directly to their parents' home. My close friend Rev. Barbara Fast, then our associate minister, and I knew we had to do something but we didn't know what. We send out an announcement that the church would be open that evening, and that we would offer an opportunity for people to gather for as long as they wanted and needed. We closed the doors at midnight after dozens of people came in and out. We didn't know what to do or say, but we knew that we needed to be together, in community, at this tragic time. It is an evening I will never forget.

And that's really the answer to the first question above...that we need each other, that a faith community provides a place where we can search together for our own answers to the big questions and to the joys and tragedies of life.

So, I am glad that the 10th anniversary is also our church homecoming service this year. We will gather together again on our front lawn, greet each other, and process into our beautiful sanctuary. And there, we will celebrate our homecoming and pay tribute to 9/11, and we will do it together, in community.

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