September 11

Homecoming Sunday falls this year on the anniversary of September 11th. On that day, the world changed. Most of us who was older than 4 or 5 remembers where we were on that day in 2001. It is a date that has power.

This date in 2022 will probably not match that power. But these days of Covid and our tentative return to in-person gatherings, viewed as a long period of dislocation and trauma, are shaping our world in ways even more dramatic.

All Souls Unitarian has ministered through these changes and many more, and remains a place of presence, where people gather (now virtually as well) to make sense of our lives in a world of change and challenge.

I hope you will spend a few moments today in gratitude for this church, for its long and proud history, and for its present that we all help shape into a source of hope.

This morning, I offered these words from the pulpit in recognition of this anniversary:

“I remember the first time I preached from this pulpit, 21 years ago today.

9/11, 2001. I was the new UUA President, on my first visit to DC.

That morning I was on the hill, when we were rushed out of the building and told to leave the area. Smoke was rising from the Pentagon The collapse of the Twin Towers played over and over on the TV all day.

I got a call from Rob Hardies, then the new minister here at All Souls, asking me if I could join him in this sanctuary that evening and if I could preach.

There was no massed choir. The mood was silent and somber as the congregation, then much smaller, and folks from the neighborhood entered through the open doors. Doors open to All Souls in a time of need.

In the sermon I asked: Where was God today? Was the Spirit of Life present in the cockpits of those planes? Present with those who died as the buildings collapsed? Among the survivors as they fled, covered with dust?

Yawheh! God! Where were you today?

I said that God was with the helpers. With the firefighters and police who ran INTO the buildings. With the medics and nurses and doctors who were ready to treat the too few who survived.

Present in the members of Fourth Universalist Church in NY, handing out bottles of water to those who streamed north away from the fallen towers.

God’s presence…Love…moved through the helpers. I preached.

And then I asked those present to look around them, to look at those who gathered. Look around you, I preached. Love is present here, helping us hold all the fear and the anger and the uncertainty And still also hold onto hope. Still also…stubbornly…and despite our doubts…helping us remember that love can be real if we make it so and that love might…just might…win.

God was here in this place of presence then, just as the Spirit of Life is present this morning.”

All Souls Church remains a place where the Spirit of Life moves within us and through us and a sanctuary where we, together, kindle hope.

Blessings on this day and every day,

Rev. Bill

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