Notes on a 9/11 Sermon by the Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, Rector of Trinity Church, Wall Street
Dr. Cooper shared some sermon notes in advance of preaching on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks. You may find his thoughts helpful in prayerfully reflecting on this day.
Then Peter came and said to him, 'Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.' Full Reading: Matthew 18: 21-35
1. Remember to love.
This is Trinity's parish theme for the tenth anniversary. Maybe there is no better advice. The horrific nature of the attacks had their counterpart that day in the messages that were spoken person to person, prayed, and heard by God. Remember to love. Every day.
2. Not a day, but a decade.
Let's try to make this anniversary more like a season and not just a day. Let's look back ten years and remember. Let's also look ahead ten years, considering how we might make the world better, and remembering that as God loves us and forgives us, so too do we love and forgive.
3. Practice forgiveness.
Remember to forgive (and remember that you are forgiven). When we remember we are forgiven by God, we pass that forgiveness along to others. Our capacity for forgiveness is not like a possession we hold on to.
4. Find the spiritual response.
In Trinity Church, just after the first tower fell, the congregation that had gathered there did something remarkable: they read the Beatitudes. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are the peacemakers. A spiritual response to physical violence and as powerful - more so - than any physical violence.
5. Be part of the story.
Millions of people visit St. Paul's Chapel every year. Why do you think they come? Perhaps to be part of the story they have heard about - the story of the best of humanity emerging after we all saw the worst of humanity. The St. Paul's story of volunteers giving their time and energy to those who needed it is a Christian story, a story the Church has been telling for ages.
6. Go help.
Why did so many volunteer at St. Paul's? Because we heard the whisperings - God loves you, you are forgiven - and the call to action that results: go help. Again, not a day, but a decade. Bring those whisperings to others as we journey on together