Summary: This sermon was delivered on September 8, 2002 and it’s purpose was to help the congregation deal with the fallout of 9/11.


Exodus 12:1-14

It doesn’t seem possible that a year has passed since our shocked, unbelieving eyes watched the black smoke billowing from WTC Tower One. “How could such a terrible accident happen?” we wondered. And then, just eighteen minutes later, as we stared at the television, we saw another jumbojet rapidly approaching the Manhattan skyline, crossing New York Harbor. We were horrified by what our eyes saw as the jumbojet crashed into Tower Two, passing completely through, erupting into a gigantic fireball. Now we knew that what we were witnessing was not accidental. This was a terrorist attack on America. Then, all too soon, the news coverage switched to our nation’s capital – right to the symbol of our military prowess – the Pentagon, where a third airliner had been crashed. The “fourth” chapter of terror was unfolding in the skies over Pennsylvania as ordinary businessmen and businesswomen and vacationers made the decision to challenge their captors. “Let’s roll,” a voice called out, and another intended missile was prevented from reaching it’s destination, crashing instead into a rural Pennsylvania field.

Most of us can remember where we were and what we were doing last September 11. Some of us were in class at school. Some of us were preparing to come to church on that Tuesday morning for Prayer Group. Some of us were already on the golf course. Some of us were at work. Some of us were relaxing with a second or third cup of coffee, watching Today or The Early Show. I was in Kingsport, taking Karen’s (my wife) pager and nametag to her – in their – {she and our daughter, Sarah) haste to school and work that morning, she had left them at home.

Most of us remember where we were and what we were doing on that morning ”when the world stopped turning,” as Alan Jackson put it in a song. It was a gorgeous “September blue sky” morning. How could it all be changed so quickly?

It doesn’t seem possible that a year could have passed. But it has.

There will be a lot of “remembering” this week, not only here in the United States, but also throughout the world.

“Remembering” is a function of our memory. Memory is a gift from God. In the creases of your brain, there is the capacity to “store” information (memories). Your brain is the original computer!

There is an “upside” to our memory and there is a “downside” to our memory.

The “upside” of the memory is the possibility of “storing” pleasant, joyful experiences. Here are some examples:

- births, marriages;

- a trip;

- salvation

The “downside” of the memory is the possibility of “storing” sad and sorrowful experiences. Here are some examples:

- the loss of a job;

- the death of a loved one;

- the events of last September 11 (9/11)

In the Exodus passage for today, God is telling Moses how to prepare the children of Israel for the final plague he is sending upon Egypt – DEATH. Listen to this passage again, from The Message…

God said to Moses and Aaron while still in Egypt, “This month is to be the first month of the year for you. Address the whole community of Israel; tell them that on the tenth of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one lamb to a house. If the family is too small for a lamb, then share it with a close neighbor, depending on the number of persons involved. Be mindful of how much each person will eat. Your lamb must be a healthy male, one year old; you can select it from either the sheep or the goats. Keep it penned until the fourteenth day of this month and then slaughter it—the entire community of Israel will do this—at dusk. Then take some of the blood and smear it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which you will eat it. You are to eat the meat, roasted in the fire, that night, along with bread, made without yeast, and bitter herbs. Don’t eat any of it raw or boiled in water; make sure it’s roasted—the whole animal, head, legs, and innards. Don’t leave any of it until morning; if there are leftovers, burn them in the fire. And here is how you are to eat it: Be fully dressed with your sandals on and your stick in your hand. Eat in a hurry; it’s the Passover to God. I will go through the land of Egypt on this night and strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, whether human or animal, and bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am God. The blood will serve as a sign on the houses where you live. When I see the blood I will pass over you—no disaster will touch you when I strike the land of Egypt. This will be a memorial day for you; you will celebrate it as a festival to God down through the generations, a fixed festival celebration to be observed always.”

God was freeing His people from their bondage in Egypt. He had already visited them with nine plagues, including boils, frogs, gnats, and a river of blood. And now, God was delivering the tenth and final plague upon Egypt – DEATH.

Notice especially the fourteenth verse…(re-read)…

“This will be a memorial day for you; you will celebrate it as a festival to God down through the generations, a fixed festival celebration to be observed always.”

The heart of this verse is REMEMBERING…this will be a “memorial” day for you—a day to remember.

This is the origin of the Jewish remembrance known as “Passover”. Each year, the children of Israel celebrate this festival and remember God and how He delivered them from bondage to Egypt. God wanted his people to remember! Remember Him! Why did the children of Israel suffer so much throughout their history? Because they FORGOT God!

During last month, in the time that I took off, one of my uncles died. His name was Curtis Hensley – “Uncle Curt”. He was 75 years old. My father is one of five sons and two daughters. Uncle Curt is the second in the family to die. I was asked to conduct the funeral.

I believe that funerals should be times of remembering. We need to remember (and celebrate) life; we need to remember (and celebrate) our confident, steadfast hope we have in and because of the Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

So, I talked about memory and remembering. We acknowledged the fact that not all of our memories are joyful and pleasant; some memories are sad and sorrowful.

I told my family that remembering is good and a good place to visit.

So, this morning, let us all be called to “remembering”. We need to remember God. We need to remember how God has brought us through all of our various trials and tribulations. We need to remember that God has given us our very lives. We need to remember that God has blessed us in so many ways. And, especially, we need to remember how God has delivered us from bondage to sin, calling us out of the land of enslavement. As the Psalmist put it, “He lifted me up out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock, establishing my goings.”

- Psalm 40:2

Thanks be to God for our sure victory through Jesus Christ the Lord! Amen!