Dear Hyde Park Family,
Do you remember where you were on Monday, Sept. 10, 2001?
No? Me neither.
The day was largely forgettable, and the news headlines were mostly unremarkable. Michael Jackson rang the opening bell on Wall Street. Disgraced Senator Gary Condit was being investigated for the disappearance of Chandra Levy. The New York Yankees placed outfielder Paul O’Neill on the disabled list.
Then came Tuesday. And we all remember where we were that morning.
I was an associate pastor here at Hyde Park. I remember being with the staff in our regular prayer time in the Chapel when the second plane hit, and as reports rolled in about crashes in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. Later that night, the Chapel was filled with parishioners, including many of you, straining to find the words and prayers to lift up amid an unspeakable national tragedy.
THE TWO TIMES JESUS WEPT
The following Sunday, Sept. 16, I was in that same Chapel preaching on the two times in the gospels where Jesus wept: John 11:28-37, in which Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus, and Luke 19:41-44, in which Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. It was a reminder that God weeps with us in our grief, and weeps for us over injustice. In my sermon, I said:
Friends, God weeps today because we do not live in a place remotely close to the kind of place God is working to create. This world does not exist according to the kingdom values of peace, equality, justice, compassion and love. The people of this world have busied themselves with building up their political, economic and military machines. Nations have risen against nation, becoming guilty of that very thing for which Jesus wept outside Jerusalem: “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”
Tomorrow will be another anniversary of 9/11. It will be set in the context of a global pandemic, and many other reminders of how difficult, unsettling and broken our world continues to be. As you find the words to offer your own prayers and remembrance of this day, here is a poem by Wendell Berry that I often read on 9/11:
“Now You Know the Worst”
by Wendell Berry
Now you know the worst
we humans have to know
about ourselves, and I am sorry,
for I know that you will be afraid.
To those of our bodies given
without pity to be burned, I know
there is no answer
but loving one another,
even our enemies, and this is hard.
when a man of war becomes a man of peace,
he gives a light, divine
though it is also human.
When a man of peace is killed
by a man of war, he gives a light.
You do not have to walk in darkness.
If you will have the courage for love,
you may walk in light. It will be
the light of those who have suffered
for peace. It will be
May God grant each of us a light, divine. May we do the hard work of loving each other, even our enemies. And may we have the courage to walk in darkness, in the light of those who have suffered for peace.
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist