The Cross and the Tomb: Reflections on September 11th

Hello friends,

I meant to post this yesterday, as these thoughts all sprung up from reflections on September 11th, and what that day means to us as a nation.

This year felt different from other years, didn't it? In years past, we all seemed fairly united behind our mourning. September 11th was a day to remember those who lost their lives in a senseless tragedy, and not for political games or stunts. In years past, it seemed like we were standing together.

This year was different though, or at least it felt different to me as I was watching the news. It seemed as though we split into two different groups. There were the people who had become angry that September 11th happened, and seem ready to blame the religion of the people who committed those crimes. Beyond the Koran burning (which again, I feel like the J-Blog deserves a little credit for ending), it just seems like there's a subculture in America that hates Islam and those who practice it. The other side of the divide was occupied by people who hate it when people hate other people.

Yes, September 11th was a horrible event. Yes, those who are LEGITIMATELY responsible for it should be punished. Yes, it was a thing to be mourned as a nation.

But as I was reflecting on September 11th yesterday, I was filled with a different emotion, one that seemed to be missing in the media coverage: Pride. I thought about the firefighters who ran into the burning building, who gave their lives in an attempt to save other peoples. What's simply stunning about that thought is that it's not reserved for September 11th. Every single time these guys suit up, they are prepared to give their lives to save the people inside the burning building. If that's not American, I don't know what is.

But the problem is that somehow the folks who are filled with hate are screaming louder than the actions of those brave men and women. And that doesn't sit right with me. I hope it doesn't sit right with you.

In the Christian faith, in our monumental and defining hour, we had a choice of where to place our focus. We could place our focus on the cross, particularly the Romans who perpetrated the murder of our Savior. We could choose to focus on our defeat, on Christ's death in our place. But if our focus is purely there, and not on the empty tomb that gives the work of the Cross a context and a meaning, we've only got half a Gospel. The fact is, as Christians, we're taught to see the brilliant glory in unspeakable tragedy.

So when I think about September 11th, I don't want to think about Islamic Terrorists. I don't want to think about Christians terrorizing Muslims. I don't want to think about how much hate it must have taken to point the nose of those planes toward those towers. I don't want to think about the equal level of hate it must take to burn the Holy Book of a religion to settle the score.

No, I want to see the brilliant glory of a firefighter standing up to terrorists by giving his life in exchange for ours. I'm going to think about the men and women of the police force around the country who keep us safe at a terrible expense to themselves. I'm going to think about how for a time, we set aside our petty differences and united as a country.

And, if it's the very last thing I do, when I think about September 11th, I'm going to be filled with love. Both for my Christian brothers and sisters, and the people of the Islamic faith who have to endure so much hardship because a few psychopaths twisted their faith beyond what it was ever meant to hold.

Let us be filled with love!