Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A Pastoral Letter for the Anniversary of 9/11

Aug 11, 2016

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Dear Sisters and Brothers:


On September 11, 2016, we will mark the fifteenth anniversary of the horrid destruction of the World Trade Center and we will again confront the raw wounds that will never be completely healed this side of heaven. I hope that you will have opportunity to gather in your congregations that day, perhaps with neighboring communities of various traditions, and mark this painful date.


We have much for which we need to pray and act. The reality of our world has not changed for the better since 9/11. In fact it is worse on the global scale. Add to this the political climate in our own nation today and I find myself driven more deeply into prayerful lament.


As often happens, this leads me to hymns, and one in particular by Jim Strathdee we sang in our chapel here after yet another tragedy in our world. It offers the theology of the cross on which we depend. You can find it at hymn 704 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Let me share the sad yet hopeful text:

When pain of the world surrounds us with darkness and despair,

When searching just confounds us with false hopes everywhere,

When lives are starved for meaning and destiny is bare,

We are called to follow Jesus and let God’s healing flow through us.


We see with fear and trembling our aching world in need,

Confessing to each other our wastefulness and greed.

May we with steadfast caring the hungry children feed.

We are called to follow Jesus and let God’s justice flow through us.


The church is a holy vessel the living waters fill

To nourish all the people, God’s purpose to fulfill.

May we with humble courage be open to God’s will.

We are called to follow Jesus and let God’s Spirit flow through us.


We praise you for our journey and your abundant grace,

Your saving word that guided a struggling human race.

O God, with all creation, your future we embrace.

We are called to follow Jesus and let God’s changes flow through us.


While there will not be a synod-wide commemoration, I invite you to pray with all of our churches these intercessions. They were written by Pastor Jonathan Linman, based on the appointed psalm for that Sunday, Psalm 51, and designed to use in the intercessions in our congregations.


Fifteen years to the day after the attacks of September 11, 2001, still our hearts cry out with the psalmist, "Have mercy on us, O God, according to your steadfast love." Heal the wounds that persist and those which are reopened on this day of remembrance and with each new terrorist attack at home or abroad. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


Create in the human family a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit with us, that we may nurture the conditions within and among the nations that will one day put an end to terrorist violence. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


Keep us hopeful that the day of justice is coming when the whole human family will again hear of joy and gladness, and that bones that have been crushed by acts of violence and weighed down by grief may again rejoice. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


I pray that God will surround us on this anniversary even as I know it will be so. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you and with our world, not only on this anniversary but always.


Sincerely in Christ,


The Rev. Dr. Robert Alan Rimbo



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