Summary: I’m concerned that as a nation we’ll hear the speeches, pay our respects, bow our heads, enjoy the music, & then return to business as usual – our lives unchanged, & God once again relegated to the back shelf. (*PowerPoint available - #241)
Melvin M. Newland, Minister Central Christian, Brownsville, TX
(Changed e-mail address: PowerPoint slides used in this sermon are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your request - #241.)
ILL. One year ago this week the skies of New York, Washington, D.C. & Pennsylvania were punctured by hijacked airplanes in a diabolical plot to pierce the soul of our nation. One year ago our sense of security was shattered as planes became missiles, buildings became piles of rubble, thousands of lives were lost, millions of hearts broken – the handiwork of 19 men who killed in the name of their religion.
Terrible images have been etched forever into our memories: of planes crashing into towers, of 110-story buildings turning into fiery furnaces & collapsing in an all-encompassing cloud of ashes & dust, of men & women falling to their deaths, of people running for their lives even as hundreds of firefighters & police officers were losing their lives in attempting to save more.
ILL. One year ago we received a wake-up call from the pits of Hell. Listen to what Steve Malone wrote a few days later: “We have all been wandering around in a haze, in a daze for 6 days now. Like the clouds of smoke, soot & debris that blanketed lower Manhattan – a dark cloud has blanketed the heart & soul of nearly every American. … We feel helpless, we’re confused, we’re angry, we’re numb…
“How could we be so vulnerable? How do we fight against ‘shadows?’ How do we ever step into an airplane or a skyscraper again? How do we ever feel safe again? How do we make our children feel safe again?” (See footnote)
Suddenly realizing how very fragile & precious life truly is, for a little while at least, as a nation we hugged our kids & grandchildren a little tighter, & told our spouses of our love for them even more fervently than before.
And our nation prayed. Simple, heart-felt prayers echoed not only in churches, but on street corners, in public buildings, &, yes, even in some schools. Members of Congress gathered for prayer in the very hall where, a few weeks before, police had threatened to arrest a group of young people for bowing their heads in silent prayer.
As a nation we stood united in prayer to Almighty God, & we sang “God Bless America” with a fervency that startled us. People turned to God & to His Holy Word for comfort & guidance, & were unashamed of that. And His words echoed & re-echoed through our land. For example, Psalm 25:1-3.
“To you, O Lord, I Lift my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.”
Also Psalm 27:1-2, “The Lord is my light & my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies & my foes attack me, they will stumble & fall.”
At such a time we knew that we needed God - not a feel-good type of God. But the unmovable, unshakable God – the God who was & is & forever shall be - all present, all knowing & all powerful – King of Kings & Lord of Lords. As a nation we knew we needed the Lord God Almighty – And we still do!
ILL. Last year, when our President stood before the Joint Session of Congress & addressed the nation about our national resolve, his words met with near unanimous approval & acclaim. And the leaders of Congress pledged their unswerving loyalty to his leadership in doing whatever had to be done to protect the people of our nation & to defeat those who would seek to harm us.
Now a year has passed by, & much of our national unity, emotion, & commitment has melted away. Just like the people of Israel in the days of old, we seem to forget so quickly the promises that we have made to one another & to our God. In the political world it seems to be “politics as usual.” And it has been months now since I’ve heard anyone singing “God Bless America.” Its message is fading away.
However, as you well know, this week we are remembering again the events of 9/11. We’ll hear tales of astounding bravery & sacrifice, & honor those who gave their lives that others might live. We’ll meet some of their families, & hear the testimony of survivors. And our nation will pause to remember & to reflect.