On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I had one of the deepest if quiet privileges of my life. I was asked to participate and speak as part of an ecumenical and interfaith unity peace march on that day, and specifically to speak on the steps of the Islamic Center of Washington DC, a major mosque on Embassy Row. I said “Yes” under one condition, that I could share the platform and share my time with my dear brother, Rabbi Jack Moline. He consented, and we spoke together on the steps of the mosque on that somber anniversary. These are my remarks on that day at a Muslim house of worship, with my Christian arm around the waist of my Jewish brother as I spoke…
If there was any silver lining on the cloudless day that was 9/11, 2001, it was that for a brief moment in America that we saw the face of Evil unmasked. Evil is real, Satan exists, he comes in ways less subtle than a serpent. Around the world and even in our own country, Evil is seen every day, but on that day, we all saw it unveiled, our whole country, even the world. And we gasped, and we hurt, and now, ten years later, we ask the questions: In light of seeing the dark face of Evil, what then shall we do? On what do we put our hope?
Of course, 9/11 was not the first time the whole world has seen Evil very clearly, it’s not been the last either. We saw it in the Holocaust, and a story from that time points us in the direction of not only where our hope lies, but also how we should live in a world where such darkness lives too.
A woman, Corrie Ten Boom, and her family were devout Christians living in Holland during World War II. From 1942 until they were betrayed and found out in 1944, they sheltered Jews and enabled many to escape Hitler’s grasp, more than 800 of them. Corrie is honored by the Jewish people as one of the “Righteous of the Nations,” and a plaque commemorates her in Jerusalem at Yad Vashem. When Corrie and her family were arrested and sent off to the concentration camps, among them was Corrie’s sister, Betsie who was frail, and wouldn’t last long. She didn’t. As she was dying in Ravensbruck, Betsie said to her sister, “Corrie, you must survive, and tell the world that God’s love is deeper than this evil.”
And Corrie did survive, through a miraculous intervention, and that’s exactly what she did until her own death in 1983. She went around the world, a Holocaust survivor, telling the world about the reality of God’s love, and the power of forgiveness, and how both are clearly seen unmasked, unveiled in the face of Jesus.
This is what we’re doing today at this Unity Walk–Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindu, Buddhist, others… we’re saying to the world on this anniversary of having seen the face of Evil, God’s love is deeper still. Together, we people of all faiths are saying:
God’s love is deeper than any Evil, even this one.
We assert it, we bear witness to it, we walk for it.
We claim it, and we will proclaim it, we will shout it,
we will work for God’s love, we will do it, we will BE it,
especially on a day like today, but much more importantly, every day.
God’s love is deeper… God’s love is deeper.