Today is September 11th. 9/11. For many, this day will always take us back to an incredible national tragedy, a day of deep and unspeakable loss, as deaths in New York City, Washington DC, and a field in Pennsylvania touched all of us.
Today is also my mother’s birthday. Before 2001, this day was all celebratory for my family. Now, while we still express thanks for my mother’s continued health and presence in our family’s common life, we do so with the awareness that we give thanks on what is now also a day of mourning and remembrance.
When Episcopalians gather and share in the Prayers of the People, we do so with individual stories woven into a collective narrative. As we pray, someone is giving thanks for another year’s clean scan while the person next to them is grieving that their husband is entering hospice. One set of prayers will end up holding joy and hurt, hope and despair, your worst day and someone else’s best.
Today, a child will be born. Today, September 11th. The parents won’t ask to change the date on the birth certificate. Tragedy is not the only thing this day can hold. It is very right and appropriate this day to remember the loss of life from 2001, to remember the bravery of firefighters and first responders and all those who ran toward violence and chaos in order to help and repair.
In the Incarnation, we acknowledge that Christ Jesus entered into our world, our time, our calendar. As followers of Jesus, we still pay attention to time, to ordinary days, to calendars that hold the totality of our lives. The same gracious God who sits with us in times of grief also dances with us in times of joy.