Luke 13:4-5 “Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them--do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Like most Americans who lived through 9-11, I can still hardly believe it. It was a beautiful sunny morning which turned into a wicked and terrible day. We were all stunned at the time and didn’t know why it was happening. It was a deadly day where fear and alarm really tested our faith and allegiance to God.
This morning, I watched a documentary about 9-11 and saw some things that I had never seen before. Some unfortunate people, who were trapped in the burning towers, jumped from the windows so that their bodies would be found. People on the ground were absolutely horrified and helpless. One African American lady was in tears, but through her sobbing she kept on praying, “O Lord, save their souls. O Jesus, save their souls.”
That was all she could do; that was all that she could pray, but it was a prayer of hope from a helpless person. The people who died in 9-11 on the planes, in the Twin Towers, at the Pentagon, or in a remote field didn’t deserve to die. They were just like us and we are still just like them, trying to get through each day of life safely and satisfactorily.
In Christ’s time, people who died disastrously were thought to be terrible sinners who had offended God and therefore they died horribly as a punishment for their sins. When Jesus came, He changed that way of thinking. He told His people that accidents happen, disasters occur, and terrible deaths take place but they have nothing to do with human sinfulness or God’s wrath. People die because we are all human and frail. However, Jesus did also point out that all of us perish and that our souls may also be destroyed unless we repent of our mistaken ways.
I don’t think that anyone who jumped from the Towers on that terrible day did so without seeking God’s help and forgiveness. And I also believe that the simple heartbroken prayer of the woman in the street below was also compassionately answered: “O Lord, save their souls. O Jesus, save their souls.”
Questions for personal reflection
Where was I and what was I doing when the Twin Towers were hit on 9-11? What was God doing on that day?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, let Your Spirit of Compassion be near to those who lost loved ones on this day in 2001. Comfort them as they quietly and painfully relive those terrifying moments on that awful day. Help us to do what we can to commemorate and cherish those who were lost. Keep us mindful of our own mortality and enable us to embrace Your forgiveness and love. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. if you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s image is John’s latest 9-11 tribute drawing called “Still There.” It features some of the firemen at Ground Zero raising a US flag to show the world that we may have been wounded painfully as a nation, but we were not defeated. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8178/7974965148_1b1e34a867_b.jpg