IN HONOR OF THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF SEPTEMBER 11th, I ADAPTED AND RE-PUBLISHED AN EARLIER REFLECTION AS MY SEPTEMBER 2011 PASTOR’S NEWSLETTERS.
Country singer Alan Jackson sings a wonderful song that asks a powerful question: “Where were you when the world stopped turning?” about the events of 9/11/2001.
Here we are about to face the ten-year anniversary of that horrific day and people will be asked that very same question again: “Where were you when you found out about the terrorist attacks?” Personally, I was in the Patton church office on the phone. The person I called told me about the planes crashing… and the terror. We quickly finished talking and I left to watch the news. How about you? Where were you? And what were your initial reactions? Your first thoughts? What did you do next?
Jackson runs through a series of questions asking what people did next: “Did you dust off that Bible at home?” Did you “Open your eyes and hope it never happened, close your eyes and not go to sleep.” Did you turn off the TV violence, give blood, buy a gun, or go home and cling tight to your family…
You know, this ‘singer of country songs’ is really on to something… we each had choices to make following those events. In the book of Job, the Bible teaches that even when our world crashes around us, we still have choices as to how we respond. We couldn’t control what those terrorists did, but we ARE in control of how WE respond… We make the choice of how we deal with fear and terror, uncertainty and anger, just as we’re responsible for our choices in every other situation in our lives.
As this song says, some people did respond by turning for protection by buying a gun. Others responded by wishing the whole thing had never happened, or being overwhelmed by such fear that they couldn’t sleep at night. Some responded by seeking for ways to help, by giving blood or sending money. Where we lived (about an hour from Shanksville where one of the planes went down), there were some that went to our United Methodist Camp Allegheny to serve meals to the officials and investigators. Some did, in fact, turn to God in prayer, at church, and by reading their Bibles.
Even as Christians, we faced those same kinds of choices didn’t we? We had to choose who to run to, who to talk to and share our feelings and emotions with, and what to do next. And like everyone else, we immediately felt alone… And that’s where we Christians have our first advantage over others; for we believe in Jesus, who is called “Emmanuel,” which means: “God with is.” (Matthew 1:23). People are again asking “where was God?” The truth is that He was there in the planes, He was there in the towers and in the Pentagon. He was there with YOU when you first heard and then walked through those mind-numbing next few days and weeks. Jesus said “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20)
Secondly, our protection in this sin-sick world, is never going to be found in guns or more violence. Even our military attempts at silencing this or that particular terrorist will never be completely successful, but God reminds us that He is our “refuge” and our “strength.” He is the “ever-present help” we can turn to in times of trouble and not be afraid. (Psalm 46:1-2)
Third, Jackson’s chorus echoes words of truth we read in the Bible that say “perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18) and of “faith, hope, and love.” (I Corinthians 13:13) Our fear will give way to peace, even in the worst of circumstances if we can get closer to our God; about whom the Bible says “God is Love” (I John 4:8). Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
As we remember the tenth anniversary of that horrific day, let’s go to Him, get closer to Him, read what His word has to say. Let’s pray and talk with Him and feel His peace. In fact, how about joining us on Sunday, September 11th at 10:45 a.m. when we as a congregation do those very things together as we worship Him!
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.”
(II Thessalonians 3:18)