Revisiting 9/11

August 31, 2011 | Viewpoints | Number 17
Arlyn Friesen Epp |

South of the border, there was lots of attention again this year around Sept. 11, especially given that it was the 10th anniversary of those terrible events. That it happened to fall on a Sunday made me think of offering a voice of lament, confession and a call for nonviolent peacemaking.

This is our challenge, too, even in Canada, where Sept. 11 has also led to our calamitous involvements in Afghanistan and elsewhere, has “justified” increased military spending, and led to more rigid immigration policies, among other changes.

My prayer for Sept. 11 and the days that follow, when a voice of peace needs to be heard, is this:

“Merciful God, we mourn the violence and injustice that takes root in many forms and in many places far and near. Merciful God, we thirst for your peace. We recognize the roots of conflict in ourselves and our complicity in systems of power and control. Merciful God, we thirst for your reconciliation. We confess that stereotypes, envy, suspicion and racism shape our perceptions and influence our actions. Merciful God, we thirst for your truth. We acknowledge that at times we fear our neighbours. Merciful God, we thirst for your love. We repent of the ways we contribute to suspicion, fear and violence. Guide us as we reaffirm our calling as your peacemakers. Grant us courage to risk loving each of our neighbours at home and around the globe. Satisfy our thirst by leading us to your living water. Amen.” (From Words For Worship 2.)

In the days following that “first” Sept. 11, I wrote a hymn based on Psalm 46, now found in Sing the Journey: “God is our refuge and strength / Our help in times of terror and trouble / Therefore we shall not fear / Though the earth shall change / Though the mountains shall shake in the heart of the sea / God is our refuge and strength.”  I encourage us to draw from Scripture, especially the Psalms, in times of uncertainty.

Emboldened by God’s care and vision, strengthened by God’s Spirit, how will we now act for peace in our neighbourhoods and communities? Will we say—with our voice and our tax dollars—“Stop!” Will we support the initiative to establish a Canadian Department of Peace? Will we join the Mennonite church conversation at Will we engage with our neighbours, and risk bridging the gaps that exist in our own backyard? Will we pray? Will we shape our worship to reflect the Prince of Peace? Will we look at the causes of violence, and seek restorative solutions? Will we advocate for the least of these? Will love overcome our fear?

We cannot be silent. With God’s grace, we must proclaim and practise the first fruits of God’s reign on earth as it is in heaven. God’s peace to you!

Arlyn Friesen Epp is director of the Mennonite Church Canada Resource Centre, Winnipeg, Man. For further worship resources on peace at a time of war/conflict, see

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