Monday, September 12, 2011

Sermon Thoughts for 9/11

For the members of St. Paul's Lutheran, Troy, IL, here is the sermon that was presented as Sermon "B" instead of Sermon "A." God's blessings as you read it.

Psalm 18 – The Rock
September 11, 2011

The 10th anniversary of 9/11 – a time of remembrance and mourning for the tragedy our nation suffered at the hands of terrorists, people who hate America and all it stands for and will what they can to hurt, harm and destroy the way of life.

We remember the shock of the day as we watched as not one but two hijacked planes plowed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
  • We couldn’t believe it as we heard of the 3rd plane crashing into the Pentagon.
  • We remember the horror we felt as first one and then the tower collapsed with a roar and a huge cloud of dust and ash.

We remember the numbness we felt as the day came to a close. How could this happen? How was it possible? How could…and we couldn’t think any more after a day that started so beautiful and clear and ended with such uncertainty, fear and death. Nothing seemed safe. Nothing seemed sure. There was no place that we could turn for comfort.

But wait, that wasn’t true. Suddenly a nation that was too busy for God, found time to worship. A people that refused to allow prayer in our schools found itself on its knees, praying to God for so many different things – hope, peace, comfort, assurance, healing.

Yes it was a tragedy but it also was a wake up call to all of us – not just to be more vigilant, to be aware that there are those who hate America and will attack us, but to be more vigilant in our faith lives. To trust in the Lord – at all times!

We found God, who is the Rock. Psalm 18:2, “The Lord is my Rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” We saw in God the hope that we needed. Indeed as a people we did as Psalm 18:6 says, “In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help.” And He was there!

He brought comfort.
  • He brought peace.
  • He brought hope, to our lives and to our nation as we reeled from a day that presented such surreal images that we could not have even imagined.

Only in movies were there such images. Only in pretend or on the back lots of the production studios could such images have been created. But they weren’t there. Those dreadful images were right in front us – surreal, impossible.

And yet, is not that how we feel at other times of our lives? At the doctor’s report of cancer. At the request for a divorce. At the finding out the company is closing and jobs are lost. As the spouse admits adultery. As the child is arrested for drug use. As the police call with word of a death due to an accident.

We are filled with shock, disbelief, terror, numbness. The nation felt it on 9/11. We feel it day after day, in situation after situation. And we cry out! We cry to God! And He hears us! We need a Rock. And He is that Rock!

But…how soon we begin to forget. How soon the numbness wears off. The world continues on. And we forget the pain.

Oh, it is still there, hurting, tearing at our lives, but it soon begins to fade. Those families who lost loved ones at 9/11 live with the pain (much as each of us live with it as we face the death of a loved one) but for the rest of us – real life comes back. We have to go on with life.

So…the planes fly again.
…the people go back to work or school.

…lives begin to return to “normal.”

…and we begin to forget or drift.

What? How could we forget? How could this happen? The Rock, the Fortress, the One who pulled us through the crisis of our times is soon forgotten. We let Him slip to the background again, waiting for another time when we need to use Him in our lives.

My friends, it should not be so. God is not meant to be relegated to the one who is needed only in times of trouble. He is to be at the center of our lives, the One who guides us each day, who leads us through the mundane events of our daily lives.

Our Rock is our Rock each day. He is what protects us as we grow through our days, our shield that wards off the flaming arrows of the evil one that attacks us even on the calm days when no calamity befalls our nation or befuddles our minds.

America needs to remember this day that it is not our might (army, navy, air force, marines) that gives us true security. For the enemy of the nation showed us that on 9/11. No, true security is found as we live in the palm of His hand

  • True peace is with God through Christ.
  • True hope is found not at Ground Zero but at the Empty Tomb.
  • True life is given not at the price of the ones who perished on Flight 93 or in the collapse of the towers but at the price of the One who died upon the cross.

America, proclaim your pride. Proclaim how we will not forget that day 10 years ago. But as you proclaim that pride and that memory, put your words in to real time – found in Jesus Christ not in a mere man who will let you down.

9/11 was a wake-up call to America. Not to be more vigilant or more prepared for an act of terrorism (though that is true too!). It is to be more vigilant in our faith life, to be prepared in Christ for that which will happen in our lives.

Will a terrorist attack America again? They will try – and perhaps they will achieve that goal.

Will men and women die on the battlefields of the world protecting the freedoms of the U.S. and other nations? Yes they will.

Will it ever end? Will sickness end?

                                    Will turmoil end?

                                                Will pain end?

                                                            Will frustration end?

                                                                        Will death end?

YES! But not through the ways that we think. It is not going to come in this world, as governments work together.

Instead it is the future that we hold firmly to – a future found in Christ, in His return. While in this world there will be struggles and pain, there will be tragedy and death. But fear not, Christ has overcome this world! He is the Lord of all. As He saw us through the tragedy of 9/11, as He sees us through the tragedies of our lives, He does so with victory firmly in hand, a victory won upon the cross, sealed in the Resurrection.

We will be free one day – when Christ shall come again. Until that day, we stand firm on the Rock of our salvation – Jesus Christ our Lord. He is the One who was there in times of trouble, who is here with us today and who will be with us until the final day when he shall come again and bring all this suffering to an end.

America, Jesus is your Rock.

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