Faith Works 9-10-16
September 10, 2001
Today is an anniversary of sorts.
Fifteen years ago, I had a quiet day as a pastor.
The next day I'd have an early morning meeting of the jail ministry board of which I was president, so I needed to make some preparations for that; and I had a trip Sept. 10 to meet with other church camp directors to review the summer, and start the plans for next year's camp and conference weeks.
It was relatively cool, and drizzly, not many people on the road. On the radio, the talk was about Chandra Levy (still missing) and summer shark attacks (still worrisome). That morning, before I headed out on the road, the Today Show talked about how to get good deals on airline travel.
And some 3,000 people across the country east of me were having their last full day of life.
In worship, falling as the observance does on a Sunday this year, we will mark the losses and the lessons. We will remember 343 firefighters who ran towards the smoke and flames, 60 law enforcement officers who died at their posts or putting themselves on duty at the Twin Towers, another dozen paramedics and elevator technicians who came to help of their own free will and did not leave; we will honor 125 who died at the Pentagon, military & civilian employees, and will salute 246 passengers and crew on the airplanes used in the committal of the crimes.
(And you may see different numbers for these categories in some tributes, as rightly the authorities have begun to include people whose deaths since 9-11 are clearly & unmistakably connected to their work "on the pile" including some survivors of the day who died in the next few years from breathing problems arising from what they inhaled in those next few hours or days.)
As preachers and pastors and many others have said in these last 15 years, no one caught between the plane impacts and collapse of the Twin Towers picked up their cell phone and called to settle scores or air out old grudges. No one is known to have spent their time trapped between flame and falling remembering former honors or past workplace promotions. They called people, or left voice mails, or did whatever they could to tell certain special persons in their lives that they loved them.
On Flight 93, the last of the four planes to crash, short of the hijackers' goal, phone technology was used to share love, and to pray together before that final assault on the cockpit. There was no more business to do, no need to worry about schedules or push agendas. Just "tell my family I love them, okay?" and the words of the Lord's Prayer and the 23rd Psalm.
We would pray together that none of us ever has to face such a time of trial; Jesus himself put that thought into his basic outline of prayer for his disciples -- "lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil" -- and he gives us that prayer because we know that evil days will come, and we need to remember that evil does not have the last word.
Today is a September 10th for us; it always is, in a way, and we never really know what tomorrow brings. That awareness can chill our hearts and stop our souls with fear and doubt.
As there are trials and temptations to worry and fret and fear, let us remember that Jesus came to tell us, and to show us, that God desires peace for us, healing for all of creation, redemption for everything created. Salvation is not a dream for only the secure and the confident, but a promise to "all who labor and are heavy laden."
There is an upside to political candidates of all parties to keep us unnerved, anxious, worried, burdened. In large part, so that they can promise to be the ones who will bring us peace, lighten our load, and from them we will receive rest.
Friends, pray for those running for office, pray as Scripture teaches for those who are holding office and responsibility and are on guard for us; but as we honor and salute and vote, remember that our rest is in the Lord, that peace is a gift of the Christ, and that only God can save us . . . and that salvation is a gift of love. And love endures all things, always.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; his September 11 fifteen years ago seemed like it would never end, and in some ways it hasn't. Tell him about your reflections on that day at email@example.com or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.