Jim Martin wrote a thoughtful post earlier this week asking what pastors ought to be preaching on 9/11. I suppose by now most pastors will already have solidified their sermons for Sunday morning.
There is plenty to say about bravery and courage, about forgiveness and unity. Any of those would make a fitting sermon topic for 9/11. I don’t suppose it’s any accident that the 10-year anniversary falls on a Sunday, do you?
Perhaps God the Poet realized the significance of this day long before any of us did. Poets never leave anything to random chance, even the pauses are planned.
In his moving, yet, troubling book The Things They Carried authorTim O’Brien says “But the thing about remembering is you don’t forget.”
We, however, are not a culture conducive to a contemplative lifestyle. Remembering stuff is hard work. What we’d really prefer is that everybody just get over it. Move on. Live Life Out Loud. Isn’t that how the saying goes?
Getting over it isn’t an option for Lillian Champion. She could live to be a 110 and she is never, ever going to get over losing her beloved daughter Marjorie. The passing of time hasn’t lessened her loss. It’s only made her more aware of all that Marjorie is missing – the weddings of her own beautiful daughters and the births of her first grand-babies — that first breath, first tooth, first word, first steps. Marjorie has missed every single blessed moment of it. When Marjorie’s daughters have something special to share with their mom, they call Lillian. Grandma is the next best thing.
Forgiveness might make a great sermon topic, but it is a demanding house guest. There are days when Lillian wishes she could just remember the daughter who brought her such joy and pride without feeling obliged to forgive those who murdered her. People think the terror stopped when that last plane struck the Pentagon – Marjorie’s office was a point of contact – but for Lillian that’s when the terror began. Thankfully, Lillian is loved, revered and honored by a large contingency of caring people. She couldn’t ask for a better community to belong to – at church or in town. They’ve been her saving grace.
A stirring reminder that goodness dwells where good people abound.
Remember, Moses said, time and time again. All that God has done for you. Remember his faithfulness. Remember his protection. Remember his promises. Remember. Remember. Remember. HE IS THE LORD YOUR GOD. Your Redeemer. Your eternal hope. I suppose if I were preaching a sermon on the anniversary of 9/11, I’d borrow from the text of The Things They Carried — That’s the thing about remembering, you can’t forget.
Because it seems to me that as long as we remember who God is, we can never forget who we are.
Even on those days when the skies are falling and our entire world is collapsing all around us, God is still Sovereign. Ever faithful. Ever true. Ever loving. We are His children — the object of all his affection.
God loves us like a good mama does.
The way Lillian loves Marjorie.