Today is the ten year anniversary of 9/11. How appropriate that it would fall on a Sunday, for in spite of the devastation those terrorist attacks caused, it left the American people focused on what they ultimately believe really matters: family, friends, country, and God. Just about every Sunday sermon will be making some reference to 9/11. Tragedies do tend to bring us together.
There are few times in life when we can all recall where we were when it happened. With me it would be when J.F. Kennedy was shot, when Armstrong walked on the moon, and when the World Trade Center was hit. When those planes crashed into the twin towers I was in the middle of nowhere in SE MO. We had attended a Labor Day family reunion and stayed on for a few days to visit family on a farm. Even though our location was remote we still had contact with the rest of the world via radio, television, and telephone.
First the phone calls came telling us to turn on the television which we did immediately. Someone had captured the destruction on video camera and they were showing it on TV. At first it looked like a badly filmed movie. Then the realization that this was really happening gradually began to sink in. It was impossible to drive back to St. Louis and fly home to CA because planes were grounded. It would have cost us a fortune just to get St. Louis anyway because gas stations started inflating their prices big time, eager to cash in on the misfortune.
Even though many of us were not affected personally by the tragedy, most knew someone who was. My son was in high school in CA and one his best friend’s sisters was on the flight that crashed before it reached the Pentagon. 9/11 wasn’t just an attack on New York it was an attack on our nation.
There was a spiritual revival after 9/11 for in crucial times people turn to God. But years pass, wounds heal, and sometimes we forget. Perhaps a ten year anniversary can rekindle that spirit. After all, we don’t always need a tragedy to bring us together, do we? Perhaps a time of remembrance can serve the same purpose.
And there is much to remember. We can remember the 3000 lives that were lost. We can remember the selfless acts of compassion of ordinary people doing extraordinary acts of heroism. We can remember that we Americans are not immune from the type of devastation we only hear about happening in other parts of the world. We can remember that a crisis need not weaken our faith, but can strengthen it.
This Sunday sermon themes will range from humility to moving forward to hope to forgiveness. Forgiveness will be a common thread, for ours is not a nation full of revenge. Justice – yes. Revenge – no.
Remembrance will be another oft repeated word. This Sunday significant hymns will be sung, ceremonial candles lit, solemn prayers lifted, dramatic readings recited, and poignant tributes given to help us reflect and remember. I think these are all good things to do – lest we forget.