“Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show
Fifteen years ago, on Tuesday, September 11, a little after 9:00 AM, our church secretary, Carol Addison, interrupted a meeting I was having with our children’s minister, Melissa Hill. As she entered the office, I could tell by the look on her face that something terribly was wrong. In that split second, I thought maybe something bad had happened to someone in her family or perhaps the church family. With tears welling up and her voice cracking, she said “Someone flew a plane into one of the twin towers in New York; they think we may be under some kind of attack.”
We went to my office and turned on the TV to see what was happening. In just a few short minutes, we watched in horror as a second plane hit the other tower. Time seemed to stand still. Something very bad was happening. Everything that seemed to be important just a few minutes earlier seemed trivial. I left the office to gather with Durham Ministers in Prayer as we prayed for our country. Later that night, we had an impromptu prayer gathering in the worship center. Those in attendance gathered around the altar as we wept and prayed for our country.
That is my 9-11 story of where I was that fateful day. I had just become pastor of RoS nine months earlier in January. As I began to think about the impact of those events, to be honest, I thought that a massive revival was going to break out and that our nation would turn back to God. For a few short weeks, the church was packed and it seemed that that would be the case. After about two months, the church seemed to go back to a regular routine.
I had to rethink what 9-11 meant and what the impact would be, not to our church as a whole, or even our nation, but to me personally. I knew that I could not be the same pastor pre 9-11 in this post 9-11 world. One month prior to 9-11, in August, I had just flown to California to attend a convention. For all practical purposes, I could have been on a plane that hijackers flew into a building. But I wasn’t. Everything seemed so surreal, but as a pastor, I knew God would be working through it all.
God did. As the dust began to settle, as the hours became days, and as the days became weeks, we began to hear 9-11 stories. Stories of heroism from the first responders, from the passengers on the planes, from the people in the buildings, to the recovery efforts, story after story. God was there in the midst of our suffering. He was there in our story.
God, through Moses, gave instructions to the people of Israel to tell their story. They were to tell and retell their story from generation to generation. They were to keep the story alive in the remembrance and the explanation and the symbolism of what God did for them in the midst of tragedy.
That word “remember is used 233 times in scripture. As Christians, we need to remember. We also need to “consider”. This word has the meaning behind it of understanding and discerning. The root meaning is “to separate mentally.” We just don’t remember, but try to gain understanding from the past. This is what understanding is what we are to remember and pass along. That is the role of the older generation to the young.
This year, September 11 falls on a Sunday. It is the fifteenth anniversary of that infamous day. We have a generation of young people who have grown up since then. On that morning, we will have a special service with guest speaker, Larry Smith, former Durham Interim Police Chief. That evening at 5:00 PM, we will have a special remembrance service. We want you to share your 9-11 stories. There will be two questions: Where were you when the towers fell and How has it impacted you? We want you to come and bring your entire family as we share our 9-11 stories.
I love you and it’s a privilege to be your pastor.