Thursday, September 11, 2008

Meeting Jesus on 9/11

It's uncanny the way in which the Daily Office readings sometimes speak to or interact with a day's events.

Today, of course, is the 7th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Since we've been preparing for a noonday 9/11 memorial service, the images from that day were on my mind when I went to chapel for Morning Prayer. The gospel reading from John appointed for today puts us right in the middle of the story of the death and resuscitation of Lazarus. Given the anniversary we mark today, this part of the reading carried extra resonance for me:

Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die" (John 11:21-26 NRSV).

With the memories of the sights and sounds and feelings from that terrible day at the forefront of my heart and mind, it's rather jarring to hear Jesus say to the grief-stricken Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life." But even in the very midst of the horrors of death, Jesus is present with the kind of calm strength and resolve we see in icons of Christ Pantocrator, affirming his lordship and victory over evil and death.

I can't make sense of the evil, death, and destruction unleashed seven years ago today. But in a way that also transcends my ability to fully comprehend, the Jesus that meets us in the pages of the gospel according to John holds out the promise that even the unspeakable events of 9/11 will be healed and redeemed.

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