Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? - Psalm 21 (NRSV)
Maybe you haven’t looked at the calendar, and don’t yet realize what day this is. Or maybe you’ve felt it coming, without even realizing what “it” was. September 11.
What a day for our scriptures to ask why the nations are up to no good, and why entire countries, classes, races, tribes, and other categories of people live as if survival is a zero-sum game. But what better day is there to reject us-or-them thinking, to confirm that peacemaking is finer than revenge wars and mutually-assured destruction?
Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?
In the realm of God, this is not a rhetorical question.
It is, instead, both an expression of God’s anguish and a reminder that it doesn’t have to be this way. It is an invitation to repent of our divisive ways, cooperate instead of conspire, and find our security in the God of Many Names and No Borders who laid down all power and every weapon that we might live.
This is not to minimize the terror and loss of that day 18 years ago. Whose heart doesn’t ache with the memory of that impossibly blue sky? Whose knees don’t buckle at the recollection of those mighty twin towers reduced to rubble? I cannot un-hear the awful sound of a passenger plane slamming into the Pentagon.
And yet the nations still conspire; we peoples still plot.
But we can choose to live differently. On this day, of all days, let us recommit ourselves to nonviolence and holy interdependence.
Prayer God of All, we grieve every life snuffed out on that day and in the years of war since then. Comfort all who mourn, and forgive us our vain plotting. Lead us in ways of peace.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.