This Saturday is 11th September 2021 – or in American talk, 9/11/21. It is twenty years since the twin towers were brought down. I remember watching it live on the TV in my flat in the Officers Mess at Randwick Barracks in Sydney, in the early hours of 12th September 2001. It was such a strange and detached environment. I remember thinking to myself “this means an early call in the morning”, and going to bed for a few hours kip, before being summonsed to my office with a 6 am phone call as the Australian Defence Force initially responded to this new threat.
The succeeding 20 years have not been happy. Wars in Afghanistan and then Iraq, the scourge of terrorism and the perversion of religion, with Islamicist killings being responded to by White Supremacist killings. Perhaps worse than all of this has been the insidious fears that have been created and promoted. We have seen the love of God displaced by fear, and the love of neighbour replaced by hatred of the foreigner and outsider.
But in all of this we have also seen grace and love and good. Muslims protecting Coptic Christians in Egypt so that the Christians could worship in peace; the outpouring of generosity and love for our Muslim neighbours in New Zealand after the massacre in Christchurch. As Dean of Darwin, I witnessed the love and care of my parishioners for asylum seekers held in detention near Darwin, even to the extent of baptising a family who came to Christ in response to the love of God shown through my parish; and in breaking bread and hosting our Hindu and Muslim friends at events in the Cathedral hall.
An appropriate text for the last twenty years might be Ecclesiastes 3.1-8: for everything there is a season – a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time for war and a time for peace. We have seen plenty of this in the last twenty years.
So this weekend as we remember the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, please pause and pray. Remember the many dead – those who have died in terrorist attacks, those who have died in war, those who have died due to persecution. Remember those who have mourned and have suffered. And give thanks for all those who have risen above hatred and fear and shown the sacrificial love that comes from God.
If you suffer yet, please reach out: and others, please be the hands of Jesus outreached to receive them in love.
Yours in Christ
The Right Reverend Dr Keith Joseph
Bishop of North Queensland
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