Written by Gregg Brekke
Containing handwritten prayers of hope and peace, color-filled ribbons were on display in the Amistad Chapel as UCC national staff paused during its weekly worship service in the Church House to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The Collegium of Officers invited staff to write prayers of hope for healing for New York City and the rest of the world, including Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., sites of the other terrorist-commandeered airplane crashes.
The prayer ribbons will be woven into a tapestry comprising varying textures, shapes and sizes, and will be combined with other ribbons from multiple interfaith settings as part of the Ribbons of Hope Project. The tapestry will be displayed at services in New York City’s Battery Park on Sept. 11.
“As we commemorate the events of September 11, 2001 we find this a ‘yearning-for-hope, anxious time in the world,’ ” said Peter Makari, area executive for the Middle East and Europe, during the invocation. “It is a time that finds so much justice-and-peace action is needed to change violence, hate and their effects – with justice and peace labors afoot in marvelously creative and interfaith ways.
In a reflection titled “The Power of One” – emblematic of the UCC’s upcoming Mission:1 campaign supporting worldwide hunger-relief efforts – the Rev J. Bennett Guess, executive minister for Local Church Ministries, said, "We’re in the one-ness business. We try to bring diverse and disparate peoples together."
“We teach that there is far more in our unity than there is in our isolation,” added Guess. “And we coax one another into believing and living as if that were so.”
Quoting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Kim Sadler, UCC editorial director for Publishing, Identity and Communication, said, “In a real sense, all life is inter-related; all people are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of mutuality. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
Guess reflected on how warmly the world embraced the United States “with one-ness” in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, but lamented the unrest of much of the past decade. “Some would say, including me, that we as a nation squandered that opportunity. It’s my new-found hope and prayer that, 10 years later, we can live into new ways of abiding together in this world.”
Said Makari, “We come together aware that, as much as is being done, more ‘one’ is needed. Shared mission, common dreams that make real differences in the world when acted upon. We come with expectancy, waiting for you, God, to guide.”