There are those dates that are forever etched in our minds. We remember where we were and what we were doing. Some may remember where they were on December 7, 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor. That day sparked for our nation our entry into World War II and our declaring war upon Japan. Most of you remember November 22, 1963 – the day that President Kennedy was assassinated. July 20, 1969, famous words were uttered: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” For those of the younger generation, that is the day that the first American landed and stepped foot on the moon.
As we gather together this morning, we remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001. On that day, we experienced an attack on American soil that we have never experienced before. That day and its events will forever be etched in the minds of Americans for as long as we live. We all remember where we were and what we were doing when our lives came to a screeching halt. For myself, it was the second day of classes at Concordia Theological Seminary. As we left the classroom buildings and made our way to the Chapel hearing of the events for the first time, we were speechless, as was the entire nation. Details were sketchy. All that we knew was a plane had flown into one of the world Trade Center towers. Shortly thereafter, a second plane flew into the other tower. As the morning’s events continued to unfold, we saw two more planes crash into the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field and the collapse of both towers.
In the midst of this tragic event, we ask ourselves, “How can this be? How can this happen in our own land?” The events of that day, of all of those tragic events that happen in this world are because we live in a sinful world. This tragedy shows the brokenness of this world, and how this world is truly a culture of death. This was not the way God had intended His creation to be. When God created the world and all that is in it, He created it to be perfect and without sin. Unfortunately, through the work of Satan, the perfection that God had created became infected with sin. Sin brings with it death, sin’s ultimate result.
One thing that we must always remember is that God does not cause evil to occur, He only allows it. The evil that occurs in this world is not by God’s doing, but it is the work of sin, brought into this world by Satan. He is the one who causes such tragedies to occur. He is the one who brings devastation. He is the one who brought death into this world.
Nearly 3000 men, women, and children died as a result of that day. I suspect the images of that day have somewhat faded but certainly have not been lost ten years later. That day, those images wrenched our hearts and subdued our lips and stirred our souls. We were brought to our knees at the days’ events.
Many people asked then and continue to ask today, “Where was God on September 11?” The question itself is age-old and has been asked many a time in moments of crisis. In the Old Testament, great men of faith from Jacob to Joseph and from Job to Jonah asked it. God is where He has always been – the Lord and Giver of Life, who reigns from His heavenly throne. He was with those in the Twin Towers and the Pentagon as they were being rescued; He was with those who perished; He is here with you. He is here this morning with us, gathered around His Word. He is there on the cross – giving His life in order to forgive and redeem His people.
The writer of the book of Hebrews says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” But man can indeed do a lot to us in our earthly lives. All one has to do is read the newspaper to see the wickedness of man: theft, murder, war, and the list goes on. But the Scriptures remind us of the love that God has for us, a love that goes beyond our human understanding. It is the love that God has for us that gives us something to look forward to; looking beyond this veil of tears that we live in and look to the eternal glory that God has prepared for us through Christ Jesus, our Lord.
During our earthly lives, we are called to follow Jesus. The call to follow Jesus is especially meaningful for us today as we remember those events that occurred ten years ago. We know that Satan is at work, doing all that he can to separate us from God, to silence God’s Word to His people. He is working evil in this world to confuse and mislead all people, even the people of God. His goal is to get us to take our eyes off of Jesus, to turn to the world or to turn to anything but God, for Satan knows that through God and His means, we receive forgiveness, life and salvation. He knows that our redemption is made only by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Satan is ever at work because he knows that God is the One who has and who will prevail.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 28, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Our Lord invites us to come to Him. He says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The Scriptures are filled with passages such as these, passages filled with words of comfort that remind us of the presence and power of our Lord at all times, and especially when we face difficult and perilous times like we did as a nation on September 11, 2001.
Today, as we remember the tragedy and the horror of September 11, we are reminded of Paul’s words to the Romans: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God our heavenly Father does indeed love us and cares for us, providing for all of our earthly needs, as well as sending His Son Jesus Christ, to provide for our heavenly needs.
God’s perfect love for us is just that, it is perfect. It desires the salvation of all of mankind. It desires to have that saving relationship between God and His creation. The power of God’s love sustains us, strengthens us, and supports us, surely as it did throughout the weeks and months following 9/11, and even today. May the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord be with you all. In Jesus’ name, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.