Building One Another

E. Stanley Ott


September 11, 2012

Dear Friend,

Eleven years ago this morning I boarded an airplane going from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles. We landed in Kansas City since every airplane in the air was required to land when the reality of the tragedies unfolding in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania began to hit home.

For me the day became a simple adventure of making my way home with other stranded travelers. In a moment of extreme crisis, in a day when many believed America to be spineless, we saw amazing valor in three different locations involving thousands of people. In the midst of all of the horror, it felt good to be an American that day. It still does.


In the days following 9/11, I was convinced that God was calling us to four specific actions. I still am. First, we are to comfort the grieving. For the families of those who died that day and in the conflicts abroad since then, life has been turned on its head. May our hearts go out to them.


Second, we are to resist prejudice. Say “no” to the temptation to treat with less than dignity those people living in our country of Middle Eastern descent and especially those of the Muslim religion. We are Americans, however before we are Americans, we who follow Jesus are the people of grace. May we think, act, and speak as the people of grace. 


Third, we are to confess our sin to the Lord. If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14*). Our news is filled with stories of unethical behavior in our midst. We have absolutely no future as a nation if we say we fight the evildoer abroad while perpetuating deliberate sin within our own camp and among ourselves.


Fourth, we are to be prepared. Preparedness in a time of uncertainty means remaining alert to the possibility of evil and choosing not to yield completely to the false security of “life as usual.”


The most quoted scripture I heard in the days following 9/11 was Psalm 46:1-2. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea.”*

With joy - E. Stanley Ott
Copyright 2012 E. Stanley Ott
*Scripture from the NRSV