Summary: We remember 9/11 not to dwell on the past but look to the future and remember what this day has taught us.
Deuteronomy 26: 1 – 11 reads, “And it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, that you shall take some of the first of all produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide.”
“And you shall go to the one who is the priest in those days, and say to him, ‘I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the country which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.’”
“Then the priest shall take the basket out of your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God. And you shall answer and say before the Lord your God: ‘My father was a Syrian, about to perish, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in numbers; and there he became a nation, great, might and populous. But the Egyptians mistreated us, afflicted us, and laid hard bondage on us. Then we cried out to the Lord God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression.’”
So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He has brought us tot his place and has given us this land, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey;’ and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.’
“Then you shall set it before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God. So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you.”
“Looking back, I realize it was the beautiful day that killed us.’ These are the words of Richard Picciotto, a worn our and grieving New York City fire battalion commander. In his book, “Last Man Down,” he tells the story of his four hours trapped in the rubble of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Picciotto believes that if it had been gray or overcast on September 11, there’s no way the terrorists could have flown those planes. Not on that day, anyway. All up and down the East Coast it was the same: still winds, blue skies, not a cloud in sight. Boston, New York and Washington DC… all enjoying an absolutely beautiful, late summer day.
How well we remember. The beauty of the day, the horror of the events.
We gather today, as we approach the first anniversary of September 11, to remember: to think back, to recollect, to memorialize, to analyze and to pledge to one another that we will not forget. But as Christians, we do not gather to remember in the sense of simply recollecting an important event from the past.
No, our approach is different, and it is deeply and distinctly rooted in the biblical idea of remembrance – the approach that Jesus took when he said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” In the Christian faith, remembrance brings an event from the past into the present – it recalls an event in such a way that it has a powerful effect on the here and now.
Think of when we take communion, the meal that reminds us of the gruesome, gory death of the Son of God, the tragic breaking of His body and the spilling of His blood, not in a metal tower but on a wooden cross. When we remember Jesus at His table, we believe that He is present at His table; we believe that He is present with us now, present in a powerful way, transforming our todays and our tomorrows.
Something similar should be happening right now. As we remember September 11, we should be focusing on how the events of the last year can shape this year, and how our memory of the past can transform our vision of the future.
This process begins with identification: deep, personal identification. Did you know there is a singing group called, “I Am The World Trade Center?” They are a New York electronic duo who was in existence long before September 11, and they chose their name because the twin towers represented a lot of different things to them. Daniel Geller, one of the group members, explained, “Their giant presence on the skyline reminded us every day of what an amazing and overwhelming place we are living in.” Also, the two towers, equal and independent, yet still one entity, were a metaphor for the relationship Geller and his partner Ann Dykes developed both personally and professionally.