I remember 9/11 as if it was yesterday. I stood glued in front of the TV and even watched live as the second plane hit the towers. What at first seemed as horrible accident immediately turned to terror.
Like everyone else, I struggled with what had just happened. It didn’t matter at this point what I had planned to preach the next Sunday, it needed to be changed. It was understandable that everyone was confused, hurting, angry and wanted justice. All of the innocent lives lost called for justice to be done. However, I was disturbed by the rhetoric of war. It came so quickly, so loudly, and wanted an immediate response.
Do you remember that sermon the following Sunday? I do. I had a lot of people to tell me I was wrong. I had some who were very angry. I had some members planning to leave the church. Why? Because I preached to wait, to talk and to find a peaceful solution if possible. To stop using the rhetoric of war so freely. But we were a populace that were hell bent on flexing our might and getting revenge. Here we are, thirteen years later, thousands of lives lost, and we are no closer to resolving the problem.
There were a few that day that said good sermon or timely sermon. I am sure some were real, but others only trying to be nice. But one remark stood out above all others. It was from the late Isabel Gates (mother of Bob Gates who would later become the Secretary of Defense) who looked up at me and said, “That sermon should be required reading of every President.” Her words gave me the courage to go on. Thirteen years later I can say, the sermon I preached was on target!
Sometimes we fear standing for the truth and what is right. It is not easy going against the majority and especially when that majority employs you. It doesn’t mean that you will always get it right – I have been wrong too. What it does tell me is that God is at work in all of our lives and even in this messed up world we live in. It tells me that God doesn’t have the same time frame that you and I run on. There is a lot more power in turning the other cheek and being servant of all than most Christians realize. But it also calls us at times to stand up for the innocent and helpless. God have mercy on those who kill, steal, and pillage the innocent in the name of God, for His vengeance will be awful.