Tuesday, September 11, 2001. New York City. 9-11 is a date in history that forever changed our nation and world.
8:46 a.m. was the moment the first terrorist-guided airplane flew into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 450 mph. The second impact, at the South Tower, occurred at 9:02 a.m. This devastation was witnessed live by millions thanks to video and television cameras now trained on the scene. Further impacts into the heart and soul of this country took place at the Pentagon and in a field in rural Pennsylvania.
Hundreds died instantly. Thousands more struggled to survive by evacuating the towers before they collapsed. Tens of thousands made it. Thousands did not. The South Tower collapsed first, at 9:59 a.m. The North Tower followed its twin to the earth at 10:28 a.m.
Even as we remember the images and impact of that day nineteen years ago, a new generation of children has been born that did not live through that day. The youngest among us at that time do not remember. Since that time, war and terror have been a constant, ever-evolving theme in our nation’s daily life. Since that day, we’ve also struggled with natural disasters and economic collapses. Currently, we’re enduring an unsettling political season unlike any other. We’ve endured challenges and difficulties (and blessings!) in our personal lives as well.
Another moment in time: 3:00 p.m., and shortly thereafter, 29 A.D. On a hill just outside the city of Jerusalem. A moment in time that will never be forgotten. A moment in time that transcends all else. A moment in time that gives us hope and a future. A moment in time that enables to do more than just remember – it enables us to look forward.
Hanging on a cross, Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” And moments later, he breathed his last. For a short time, anyway. At Easter dawn the Lord Jesus forever altered the history of the planet by bursting from the tomb – alive and powerful. In control.
Viewed separately, September 11, 2001 and other moments of terror and challenge are intense moments of devastation and loss. With the empty cross and the empty tomb in our sights, however, they are mere moments in time under the control of our merciful Lord.
We do not deserve anything from the hand of the Almighty Lord, but he has been merciful and gracious to us beyond comprehension. As a nation, we have not responded to God’s mercy these past nineteen years with anything resembling faithfulness. And yet, by God’s expansive grace, our nation remains. As individuals, we also acknowledge our failings as well as God’s forgiveness and love.
Now, nineteen years later, may we as a nation – and as individuals – respond to the Lord’s mercy with faithfulness and love and truth.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:1-3, 10)
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand