by Rev. Laura Barclay
Last night, I watched the breaking news story that Osama bin Laden was killed during a gunfight in Pakistan. I sat there, processing the news and trying to figure out how I felt, wondering how this would affect our country and the world. I fell asleep, feeling nothing emotionally, but praying that this military victory would move us closer to the end of our decade long war and bring our troops that much closer to home.
This morning, I awoke to see images from late last night. College students and passers-by partying outside the White House, near Ground Zero, throughout Boston, at a Phillies and Mets game, and on West Point’s campus. I felt a visceral reaction of disappointment. For me, bin Laden’s death is not an occasion for celebration, but one of solemn remembrance for all the soldiers and civilians who’ve died because of his actions. It’s an occasion for caution, as violence usually begets violence, and the government is already issuing warnings to Americans abroad fearing al Qaeda’s revenge. It’s an occasion for thoughtfulness, as bin Laden’s death does not rid the world of terrorism, suffering, or death.
It was telling to me of all the scenes of jubilation, the most poignant were photos released from our soldiers oversees watching the President’s press conference last night. Rather than cheering, they sat solemnly, knowing that this was not the end and that one man’s death will never bring back the thousands of troops and civilians who’ve died. Perhaps the most poignant remarks I heard today were from Carie Lemack, co-founder of the Global Survivors Network, who lost her mother on September 11, 2001. While she felt a sense of relief that no one else would die by his hand, she has been disappointed in the amount of media attention bin Laden and his violence have received over the last decade. Rather, she wants the voice of those who work against terrorism to “be louder than those who advocate for terrorism.” With this violent figurehead gone, what hopes do you have for the future of the world? What good can we do together for peace and justice? Is God calling you to better your church or community? May we always be open to the Spirit with us.
Let us pray for our troops and civilians still in danger. May God be with them and hear their cries and fears.
Let us remember those who have died, both military and civilian, in the last decade due to bin Laden’s actions. May they be with God and in peace.
Let us pray for the survivors of war and terrorism. May God walk with them in their grief and be with them throughout the healing process.
Let us pray for the weakening of terrorism in all forms and the strengthening of peace around the world. May we see the in-breaking of God’s kingdom on earth.
Lord, hear our prayer.