Trinity 12 — God’s Grace and 9/11

Preached September 11, 2011

2 Corinthians 3:4–9
St. Mark 7:31–39

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Today is the twelfth Sunday after Trinity, the second Sunday in our mid–Trinity season summary on the Grace of God. As it happens, it falls this year squarely on the tenth anniversary on the horrific events of the 9/11 attacks on World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Thus we find our minds unavoidably divided between two ideas today, one the message of God for our lives, and the other the message of evil men who have total disregard for our lives.

The enormity of the 9/11 event seemed to overwhelm us. There had not been a direct attack on the continental United States since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941, and it shocked all of us that someone, we knew not who, had made a brazen daylight attack on both New York and Washington. We had no idea how much more was coming, but our sense of security was crushed. A number of years earlier, the US had abandoned the Cold War practice of having jet fighters constantly at the ready, ready to scramble at the appearance of any menace coming over the horizon. Consequently, we were totally unprepared to put up any aircraft quickly to respond to other threats that might be coming, and to search for Flight 93 which had disappeared and was feared heading for Washington. Our confidence in our own military might was just about zero at that point; our defenses had been completely breached and we knew that the enemy had gotten through. Americans were afraid of what might be coming.

But there was indeed a great turning of the nation to God. It was truly amazing to behold, and, as St. Paul says in the Epistle lesson for today, 2 Corinthians 3:4-5   4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:  5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; It was a strong indication that the American nation remembered its Christian roots, and houses of worship were packed. There was a sense of re–awakening of religious faith in America, enough so that we could almost look at 9/11 as having been a good thing because of this re–awakening, although at extremely high cost. Regrettably, it was short lived; within a few months, the new religious fervor seemed to wear thin and people went back to their old ways. But we see, that when people are jogged by something that awakens their conscience, those who know and recall the Christian faith are drawn back into the ways of faith even by great catastrophes.

All of us have our own recollections of what we were doing when we first learned of what was happening in New York and Washington. It was a Tuesday morning, so for most of us, it involved whatever our Tuesday morning routines were in 2001, only to be interrupted by news that would change our world forever. Our lives would never be quite the same afterwards as they had been before 9/11. For the many who were directly involved in fire fighting and rescue efforts, they were called upon to perform absolutely heroically that day. Many died in their efforts. It is only by the grace of Christ that these are able to make the choice to put their own lives at risk in order to assist others. The response of the natural man is to protect himself first and let others fend for themselves, and only with the aid of Jesus Christ do fire fighters and rescuers put themselves at risk to save others; 1 Corinthians 15:10  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

When the 9/11 itself was over, there followed, of course, several more days of fire fighting and rescue efforts, and then a massive clean up and repair effort. As the time went by, the tensions of the day began to subside, little bit by little bit. But the big questions of How did it happen? Who did it? Why did it happen? all remained to be answered. This led us in the period, continuing right up to the present day, that I think of as the Great Cover–Up. This event had literally thousands and thousands of witnesses, each with some bit of evidence to contribute. The official report simply ignores the evidence of most of those witnesses and leaves unaddressed a lengthy list of questions. It says to the American people, “trust us, this is what you should believe if you know what is good for you.” What foolishness!  To think that Americans would ever accept such instructions is really foolhardy, and they have not. There is strong evidence that points to an inside job, indicating that the lease holder of the World Trade Center had to have been at least complicit in the destruction of the buildings. This suggests that the US Government was also involved to allow the Pentagon attack to happen.

One may ask what role has grace played in post–9/11 America on the national level? It seems to me that grace has played a two sided role in the nation in recent years. It has allowed the nation to restore a sense of normality, so that everyday life goes on much as before. This is important if people are to live without the enormous stress of impending disaster. It is very hard on people to live thinking that they may be at war at any moment, and since we have no clearly identified enemy (who is al-Qaeda, anyway?), we need not live ready to go to all out war. On the other side, grace has enabled the questions of what, why, who to remain active. These are important questions for justice that many of us think has not been done and still needs to be attended to for justice to be served. Without grace, these ends might have only been served by violence, but there has been little or no violence that I know of in this regard.

Let us pray that the American people will turn more strongly toward the Lord, that they may be filled with His grace, for their benefit and that of the whole world. This is a strange weekend, but let us keep the grace of Christ Jesus upper most in our hearts, now and evermore.

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.


About Father D

I am a priest of the Continuing Anglican Church, the continuation of orthodox Anglicanism into the present 21st century. My theology is definitely that of a Reformed Catholic point of view, neither Roman nor Calvinist.
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