Summary: A look back at 9/11/01 from Sunday 9/11/05. It was the four year anniversary.

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Four Years Later –A Look Back To The Day of Terror

(preached on 9/11/05)

Revelation 18:8-20

“Literally, as I type this sermon, I am listening over my shoulder to Jane Pauley reporting on two school children who were aboard the flight which slammed into the Pentagon.

Her question is everyone’s question: Why did these children have to die? Why did any of this happen?

“Recent events in our country have changed the way we look at things”…a commercial roars.

September 11, 2001 is the new “day that will live in infamy”. “Where were you when it all came down?” is new question that will live for the next couple of generations.

Reality has set in…things are different. We will never go back to the America of September 10, 2001.

Many of us are just now being able to assimilate these events.”

The above was an introduction to a Wednesday evening sermon that I delivered on September 19, 2001. It was one week following the tragic day that lives in our hearts and in our national memory, and it was four years ago, today.

The America of today is far different than the country we knew and lived in four years ago. This Friday Angie and I will tackle the airport for the first time since that day when transportation changed forever.

Today, when you ride through downtown Atlanta, one of the police cruisers you will likely see is marked “Department of Homeland Security.” We’ve become quite accustomed to color-coded alerts, and our men are still fighting in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

We were so sure that within days of 9/11 Bin Laden would be in custody and awaiting a certain death for the atrocities. Yet, the mastermind of the plot is still at large.

Four years later we pay three dollars a gallon for gas for our ten miles to the gallon SUV’s, we vacation in the Caribbean and we are more prosperous than we were four years ago. Things have actually gotten better, it would seem.

I remember reading of the “surge” in church attendance and people all over seeking answers following 9-11-01. Yet, as a nation are we any closer to God and turning back to Him than we were then?

It was one of those events that you will always remember where you were, when you heard the news.

I was running late for work that day, and I was walking up through Five Points in Atlanta hurrying to my office after running some errands before work. It happened as I shuffled up the street, surely muttering under my breath and anticipating that steaming cup of Starbucks that lay in my immediate future.

I decided to pop in the office and get my messages and put my brief case down before going for my Starbucks. I never made it to the coffee. One of my employees came quickly to the office and told me “Mark, a plane has just hit the World Trade Center.”

Immediate denial: “Must have been a tiny Cessna off course and confused. Tragic, very tragic. The pilot is surely dead, but maybe the people at the Center weren’t at work yet on the floor where he hit. I hope no one was killed by the falling debris.”

“Lord please touch the people who have been hurt there…and may the damage and pain be minimal, Amen. Ok, could you bring me that folder-I have to make some calls after I check my email.”

That coffee was sounding better and better and I was almost sure I could smell it. Maybe it was that empty Starbucks cup sitting on the desk from yesterday.

Then we heard on another of my employee’s desk radio-it was a 747 that had hit the World Trade Center. I ran to retrieve a small television we kept in a closet. By the time we could get it set up in the common area, and the rabbit ears adjusted to bring in a signal…we heard the news…a second jet airliner has slammed into Tower Two-and the thick, black smoke that we all can see in our minds was now billowing into the New York sky. The networks were now replaying the video over, and over. By now, no one believed this was random or accidental.

A small crowd had gathered outside my office, as it became very clear that work had taken a back seat. No supervisors were hollering “get back to work.” We all gathered around in surreal silence, which was broken by an occasional gasp and some muffled discussion. One lady was crying because one of her best friends worked at the World Trade Center.

I’ll never in my life forget the feeling, the sheer horror that shot through my soul as my co-workers and I watched the North tower crumble to the ground. This is a modern, STEEL building…it can’t fall like that! That’s an impossibility! That building is designed to withstand anything! Sure, you can take out a couple of floors, or even lop off the entire top with the right force…but the thing CANNOT FALL!

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