Summary: A sermon addressing the Sept. 11 tragedy.

A Nation in Mourning

Biblical Text: 1 Thess. 4: 13-14

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.”

At 8:45 AM on September 11, 2001, life as we know it in America was forever changed. The terrorists’ attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the small community of Shanksville, were a demonstration of the depravity at loose in our world. While our government scrambles to attach a name to our perpetrators, those of us in the community of faith already know at whose hand these dastardly deeds have been accomplished.

We mourn today, not just as a nation, but worldwide, at so great a loss. Countless thousands perished in a moment…a mere twinkling of an eye. We watched in horror, as beloved family and cherished co-workers were snuffed out in a matter of seconds. This was a deed that could only be accomplished at the hand of the master of evil himself.

Men and women who, yesterday, gave little thought to the need for divine intervention in their lives, now strain their hearts for answers from a Higher Power heretofore unknown, while those who belong to the household of faith also sorrow, though not as those who have no hope.

Tragedy impacts the spirit of mankind in inimitable ways. The emotional trauma is as great as the physical devastation itself. Thousands of children who once waved goodbye to Mommy and Daddy without fear, now cling in helpless trepidation at the thought of losing so fragile a possession as their loved ones. Chains of friendship, matrimony, commitment and promise have been forever broken by death.

The cry from the world is this…..that no one could have hoped to adequately prepare for such a catastrophe. But I hear the voice of the Apostle Paul in the 4th chapter of 1st Thessalonians saying, “there is hope”. Paul, in his great desire to bring the world out of ignorance, reiterates the imperishable truth that, even in the midst of tragedy, we who are of the household of faith sorrow not as those who have no hope.

Now more than ever, the men and women of God who stand on the promise of eternal life, hold the key to offering deliverance for those who sorrow without hope. Now more than ever, we, who are the called out ones, must carry that message of hope to this generation of disillusioned self-reliant survivors. Christ stands at the door with outstretched arms saying, “Come unto Me, all ye that are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and LEARN OF ME.”

The time is ripe for crossroads decisions. The very nature of Tuesday’s tragedy reveals that humanity is forever vulnerable to forces beyond our control. We must not begin a single day oblivious to this vital truth. And if our fragile lives can be eradicated at a moments notice, it is not only this life for which we must make provision, but also the life to come…or we could one day find ourselves sorrowing, without hope.

As airports makes preparation for new heightened security measures, and our government reexamines its role as our protector, it becomes increasingly clear to all of mankind that we must live guarded lives. But what are we to guard against? Can we assure our citizens that “tomorrow” is promised? Nay…we cannot. “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heavens…a time to be born and a time to die…”

Where do we turn then for reassurance and consolation? Again, I hear the words of Paul saying, “The law of the Holy Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Thus, no fracture of man’s laws can steal the Saint’s victory over death. No terrorist can sequester eternal life from those who believe in Jesus Christ.

And we have this assurance….that there is no pain beyond this earthly life. “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things (will be) passed away.” (Rev. 21: 4)

Jesus warned us to watch and pray…not as those who live in fear, but rather as those who live in earnest preparation. While others struggle through the bottomless pit of grief, without hope for the souls of loved ones who knew not Christ, we are called to channel our despair into productive anger, and reach out to the lost with the only hope we have against these all too certain disasters.

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