Where were you on 9/11? Every American knows the answer to that question. And do you remember the incredible feeling of unity we had….even if it was for a short while? Flags flew everywhere and love of country was strong.
Where were you on 7/22? Can’t remember? I can! Because I was in Oslo, Norway when the terrorist attack occurred. I heard the explosion! ! That date is etched in the hearts and minds of the Norwegians, just as 9/11 is etched in ours. They, too, were attacked by an enemy, albeit an enemy from within.
And I was amazed at the reaction of the Norwegians! Obviously there was horror and grief and shock. But there was not a reaction that demanded revenge. .. justice, but not revenge. I speak, read and understand Norwegian, and as I grappled with this event and spoke to people and read the papers and listened to the news, the message was not retaliation or revenge. The message was : we will not allow this man to change our hearts. We will focus on love for those lost and injured, and on peace.
A German newspaper reported: “Even in their deepest sorrow the Norwegians don’t get hysterical. They resist the hate. It is amazing to see how politicians and the whole country react. They are sad to the deepest thread of their souls. They cry in dignity. But nobody swears to take revenge. Instead they want even more humanity and democracy. That is one of the most remarkable strengths of that little country.”
What came to my mind as I experienced this attitude was the Sermon on the Mount and the beatitudes: Blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the persecuted, blessed are the peacemakers.
And what about each of us and our enemies? How do we deal with those who have wronged us as individuals? It is so difficult to let go of grudges and anger and hatred. But Jesus admonishes us to do just that! “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matt5:44) That is so much easier said than done. I know I struggle with that, as you most likely do, too.
And I struggle with the enemy from within …..within me! The enemy that allows me to be petty, self-centered, judgmental, gossipy, jealous, and yes, unforgiving of those who offend and hurt me! Jesus has defeated that enemy, yet I still struggle daily with the evil one.
A couple of weeks ago, Vicar Daniel Fenco preached a sermon on The Guilty Walk Free. And he pointed out that we are all guilty and we are all sinners. We have all wronged others, but because of the incredible love and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, we walk free!
Thanks be to God! Let us walk forward in love, knowing that we are forgiven.