This post originally appeared on September 11, 2011, but the sentiment remains today.
I am praying today for the people of Middletown, New Jersey, a community I had the privilege of being part of from 1994 to 2005.
On September 11, 2001 I was in my office at Middletown United Methodist Church where I was serving as the Youth and Family Minister.
Years earlier one of our members told me how he and his family had found the church. He spent several Saturdays stopping at towns along the New Jersey Transit rail line to find a place he and his family would like to live. The 45-minute commute by train between work in New York City and a great place to live had sold him, as it had so many in the area–evidenced by the full parking lot of the Middletown Train Station every weekday.
Thirty-seven people from Middletown died that day. Somehow none of them were from our church. The youth I pastored later told me stories about spending the day in the auditorium as they awaited news about some of their classmates’ parents. A colleague told me about going to the ferry near her church, and welcoming those who had fled the city, helping them find their way home. A congregation member ended a conversation one day by saying she was on her way to “another funeral.” This well-connected member of the community had been to a funeral almost every day for about two weeks.
Ten years later, this post is part of my therapy. I guess I need to remember, though I would prefer to forget. I am not interested in seeing the footage again. It is too hard. I am troubled when the events of that day are used as a political rallying point, to manipulate my feelings, or to stir anger.
Instead I seek healing. I pray for that day when the Kingdom of God comes in all of its fullness. I long for the time when God “shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4). I pray that we, the Church (no matter what church we attend), might work for “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Today I pray and grieve for the victims of violence as I pray and work for the peace of the Kingdom of God.