Like Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassination, everyone remembers where they were on Sept. 11, 2001, another “day which will live in infamy,” as President Franklin Roosevelt said.
Many of the victims of the World Trade Center airplane crashes were killed instantly. No warning and no preparation. Here one minute and gone the next. And more than two thousand more died when both towers crumbled to the ground.
The same is true, of course, with those who died instantly in the Pentagon and Shanksville (PA) airplane crashes. Though they may have known doom was imminent, they were also here one minute and gone the next.
As Christians, we know that not one soul was lost or missed. God was present with the victims who died instantly, and God was with those who suffered in the hours after, ultimately losing their lives as the towers fell.
I am convinced that God works through the lectionary readings and the music that we sing to accompany the readings. I might propose that this Sunday’s (Sept. 11) Gospel reading, the story of “The Ninety and Nine” (as the old 19th Century Scottish hymn proclaims), is no accident: “There were Ninety and Nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold.”
While this Sunday’s reading from Luke specifically references “the one sinner who repents,” Jesus’ parable is also clear: The shepherd, caring for 100 sheep, rejoices in finding the one who was lost. Jesus, the Great Shepherd, cares for the one as he does for the 99 others, and his care is unfailing, especially in times of tragedy.
This Sunday’s 10:30 a.m. service will be held outdoors in combination with our annual parish picnic. The Jeremy Shrader Dixieland Band will accompany our singing and provide music for the picnic. In observance of the 9/11 anniversary, the service will begin with “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” which I hope will call to mind the significance of the day.
And as the shepherd who said, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost,” our outdoor liturgy will end with “When the Saints Go Marching In.” On Sunday may we remember all 2,996 people who tragically died on 9/11, and may we rejoice that not one soul escaped the arms of God. Not one.