“One Moment in Time”
Rev. Glenn F. Merritt
September 11th, 2001
Grace Lutheran Church
There are no words which can adequately describe or define the tragic and treacherous events of today. This date will live on in the history of our nation as a day when apathy and complacency toward God were crushed by acts of terrorism too terrible to comprehend. No civilized people in the world can condone the awful attacks of hatred on the innocent and indefensible victims of today’s heinous crimes against humanity. It is not only for the victims whose lives were viciously and deliberately taken that we mourn but we mourn also for those who have survived and for those who have surveyed the carnage.
This is one moment in time that will stand forever as a monument in time to the overt evil that pervades both our world and our lives. No heighten security measures, no strengthen defense measures can effectively stop the forces of evil because we are not fighting against flesh and blood but rather against the powers, against the authorities, against the rulers of this dark world, against the evil spirits that are in the heavens. Here in the throne room of God the battle against the agents of evil will be won or lost. Here at the altar of prayer the outcome of the earthly battle will be determined.
At the same time, I urge you not to forget that the outcome of the eternal battle of good verses evil was determined at Calvary’s bloody cross almost 2000 years ago. There the forces of evil were defeated to insure our eternity. However, we who live in such trouble times must continue through the power of prayer to fight the fight against the forces of evil. In this time of national tragedy we cry out with the voice of the Psalmist,
To you I call, O Lord my Rock; Do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.
Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help,
As I life my hands toward your Most Holy Place.
Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil,
Who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts.
Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work;
Repay them for what their hands have done
and bring back upon them what they deserve.
Since they show no regard for the works of the Lord
and what His hands have done,
He will tear them down and never build them up again.
Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
The Lord is the strength of his people,
A fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
(Psalm 28, NIV)
Here we are reminded that the battle is not ours but God’s. He himself is our strength and our shield and he will do the battle for us.
One news commentator today said, “In times like these people simply do not know where to turn.” I beg to differ. In times like these God’s people know exactly where to turn. We turn the God who listens to our cry and hears our prayer. This is hardly the time for the faithful to be faint of heart.
Again it is the Psalmist who reminds us,
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
Though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
(Psalm 46, NIV)
The World Trade Centers may have collapsed today, the Pentagon may be in ruins tonight, but God is always in control. He is our ever-present help in trouble, our refuge and our strength during these tragic and trying times.
Tonight, we turn to the Lord for comfort and counsel. This very moment, we are joined by countless other Christians across the nation in seeking refuge and strength in God. It is tragic that it takes the terror of terrorism to drive godly people to our knees in prayer but God too can use this for our good.
Perhaps, the images of untold horror burned into our hearts and minds today will lead us to constantly seek God’s counsel and aid in prayer as we walk into an uncertain future.
All is not lost, all is never lost, when God is in control and He is in control even when our world seems out of control. The prophet Joel reminds us,
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
The nation of Israel had grown apathetic and complacent toward God. He allowed calamity to come upon them so that his prophets could call the nation to repentance and faith. Could God be doing the same for our nation tonight? Will we return to the Lord and rend our hearts in repentance as Joel suggests?
Certainly and without any doubt, we are deeply troubled and sorrowfully saddened by the terrible events of today. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. We mourn with them, we empathize with them, we pray for them. We grasp this tragedy from afar but hold them close in our hearts. We regret their lost and reach out to touch their lives with the love of God and of His people.
At the same time, we would be remiss if we failed to recognize that we too have grown apathetic and complacent toward our God. We’ve not prayed enough for His guidance, we’ve not asked enough for His assistance. We’ve gone our own way until today. Now, everything can change as quickly as the World Trade Centers were turned to rubble if we’ll spend just one hour in committed connected prayer.
This one moment in time can only stand as a monument to overt evil if we allow it to. This one moment in time can stand as a monument to God if we will rend our hearts and return to him. He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
Tonight, we trust not in our own wisdom and strength but in that of God as we pray for peace within our nation and our world. Tonight, this watershed event allows us to re-focus on the love of God which is found in Christ. It is Christ’s precious gospel that will change the hearts of men forever and for now. As we focus, not on the horror of death and destruction, but on the joy of the gospel, we find peace and comfort and consolation. We find the answers we are seeking in Christ. May such be ours tonight, peace and comfort and consolation and answers to ease our broken hearts.
God bless you all and God bless America! Amen.