Summary: A message for the one year anniversary of September 11, 2001.
September 8, 2002
Each of us has a story…
Where we were…
How we heard…
What we felt.
Each of us has as story…and each story is interesting. Over this past holiday weekend, I sat with Kim’s family around the dinner table, and one of the things we talked about was how each one of us first heard the news on Tuesday, September 11.
For me, it was a few minutes before 8:00 and Kim and I were actually still at home, getting a rather slow start on a new day. The phone rang. It was my mom. She suggested we turn on the TV because the World Trade Center was on fire. Sure enough smoke was pouring out of the North tower. I was just starting to say to Kim, “Do you see how close that airplane is flying?” But even before I could complete my sentence that plane had crashed into the South tower.
Soon there was video footage of the Pentagon on fire. Reports of another plane missing. Kim and I both were really afraid. Confused. Sad. Worried about those still inside the buildings. I remember we sat on the sofa and prayed together.
I kept asking over and over, “What’s going on?”
Still glued to the TV, five minutes after 9:00 the north tower fell.
I looked at Kim and said, “I’ve got to get to the church!” Once here, I prayed with the secretaries.
Then I went next door to the public grade school.
I prayed with the administration and staff of Holmes School.
We planned a service here at the church.
Many of you were here. That night we just made a big circle in here and prayed.
We formed groups and we talked. We told our stories.
Each of us was affected.
Each of us has a story.
In the days following the attack on America, I remember picking up the Bible in search of a story of someone that could possibly relate.
For some reason I thought about this guy named Jeremiah and a book he wrote called Lamentations. Even though it’s only 5 chapters long, Lamentations wasn’t a portion of the Bible I had ever studied very intensely.
But I knew from reading it before that Lamentations was a sad, sad funeral song written for the city of Jerusalem after it was destroyed in 586 B.C.
And I knew that Jeremiah had been an eye-witness of all the destruction. So I thought if anyone could relate to what had just happened on September 11, it would probably be him.
And as I read his story in light of the terrorist attacks here, I was amazed by how vividly Jeremiah’s writings put our feelings into words.
I got into the first chapter and read things like this:
Jerusalem’s streets, once thronged with people, are silent now. Like a widow broken with grief, she sits alone in her mourning… (1:1)
Man, that sounds like New York!
…She sobs through the night; tears run down her cheeks… (1:2)
…All her beauty and her majesty are gone… (1:6)
…the fairest city of Israel lies in the dust of the earth… (2:1)
This really got me…
…And now in the midst of all Jerusalem’s sadness she remembers happy bygone days. She thinks of all the precious joys she had before her mocking enemy struck her down… (1:7)
An enemy striking a city - I thought, wow, this guy can really relate!
Jeremiah was one of God’s most eloquent prophets. He was Jewish so Jerusalem was the capital city of his country, the religious and cultural center of his world.
The army from the empire of Babylon attacked Jerusalem in 588 B.C. and the battle continued for 18 months. But all of the citizens of the city remained walled in the entire time. Food shortage became so severe that mothers actually killed and ate their own children. Finally the Babylonians broke through the city walls and poured into the city. The Judean army tried to escape, but the Babylonians caught up to them and captured Zedekiah, king of Judah. They executed Zedekiah’s sons in his presence then sent off to Babylon in chains. The Babylonians proceeded to burn every building in the city, including the Jewish temple that Solomon had built, but not before they had killed all of the priests inside the sanctuary. Then the majority of the Jews were carted off to be slaves in far-away places.
I read a little further and he made me think of how the Al Queda terrorists probably viewed the events:
(They) scoff and shake their heads and say, "Is this the city called ’Most Beautiful in All the World,’ and ’Joy of All the Earth’?"
All your enemies deride you. They hiss and grind their teeth and say, "We have destroyed her at last! Long have we waited for this hour, and it is finally here! With our own eyes we’ve seen her fall." (2:15-16)