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      As I write this (admittedly far too late for a September newsletter), today marks the 22nd anniversary of the attacks of 9/11.  I’m honored to have join faith and civic leaders to lead the City of Wheeling’s September 11th Memorial Service at Heritage Port.  Before the Brass Orchestra played, the Honor Guard Presented Colors, and the community sang our nation’s anthem, I was tasked with an invocation.

      What and whom should I invoke?  It’s an interfaith gathering, with colleagues from Christian and Jewish religions.  It’s a community service, and I’m well aware that the number of community members that claim a specific faith in God is shrinking.  Yet, the word that God kept giving to me is “gratitude.”  When life is turbulent, and emotions run the gamut, gratitude grounds us.  When we seek to remember, to learn and to grow, gratitude roots us in a firm starting position.  When I seek to rise to a higher level of thinking, feeling and leading, gratitude opens us up for wisdom and maturity to come. 

       Allow me to share with you some of the words I used to invoke a common witness.  It is fitting for a 9/11 remembrance, I think.  Yet, I also think it is helpful for every aspect of life’s varying circumstances.  To invoke gratitude requires a helpful humility—before the situation, before our limitations, and (I believe) before the One to whom we owe everything and can trust in all things.  After some gathering remarks noting the varying places from which we all come (physical and faithful), I shared:

       “We gather in gratitude.  A remembrance like this recalls for us the frailty of life.  Today is a gift, and we are not guaranteed anything more than this very moment.  The highest spiritual wisdom and maturity is to find the giftedness in all moments of life.  As the Old Testament Scholar and Christian Theologian Walter Bruggemann says, ‘we come to an awareness that life is pure gift, and gratitude is the only fitting posture for life.’  From wherever you come, I invite you to recall the giftedness of today.  And as you are comfortable, I’d invite you to enter into a prayerful moment of gratitude: 


O Giver of Life and Grantor of Every Good and Perfect Gift, we come in humility, and our hearts overflowing with the utmost of gratitude.  Even in the plethora of emotions that our remembrance invokes within us and among us, we invoke your Spirit’s presence in us and among us.  Receive this gift that we offer, to you and to the whole world, that is our gathering and our remembering.  May it touch the present and transform futures, so that all life may be treasured, honored, and shared this day, and all the days to come.  AMEN

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