But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:44-45
Psychologists and our own experience tell us that we can recall in vivid detail, where we were when we heard devastating news. Like many of you, I can still remember where I was on that bright September morning 18 years ago, when our world changed forever. I had just finished a class in my first year of seminary, and I was walking across campus. I remember how still it was as an almost eerie silence had enveloped my world. I had no idea what had happened until I turned the radio on in my car, and my brain started to grasp the events that were unfolding.
But I also remember September 12th and September 13th and September 14th and all of the days that followed that horrible day, when humans of all kinds came together to support one another in our national moment of grief. Those small, random acts of kindness. The smile to strangers whilst walking down the street. Political difference disappeared for a moment, and we were all united as one in our grief and our pain.
As we remember the events of September 11th, 2001, it is easy to get mad and look for someone to blame. We know who did it and why and, for the most part, we have tracked them down and brought them to justice. But it is days like today when I recall the command of Jesus that we are to “love our enemies.” One of the most challenging commands that Jesus left us with especially on a day of remembrance like today.
I am often asked how we can make this world a better place, and my usual answer is love because it is the only answer. Love begins with us and in us and radiates from us to others. So today, simply be love for someone. Let the love of Jesus shine through you and let it land on someone else. And pray for peace, that peace that passes all understanding.
This essay originally appeared in the weekly eNews of the First Congregational Church of Salem, New Hampshire