When they awoke that morning, the victims of the 9/11 attack had no idea that their life would end that day. Everything probably seemed routine as they started their day by going to work or the airport. Travelers expected to arrive safely to their destination. Employees anticipated the supper they would later share with their loved ones. As we all discovered later, those assumed plans would never come to pass for the 2,977 victims of the terror.
Sunday will be the 10th anniversary of that horrible day; a helpless day, as all of us who watched the news casts, stood there, sat there with the realization that there was nothing we could do but pray and mourn. We were helpless, we were anxious, afraid. We spent the following weeks and months cautious, watching the world around us with a closer eye. The media warned us that there were other terrorists out to get us. Anything could happen to any of us, anytime, anywhere. Our leaders were doing everything in their power to stop the terrorists, but we had to be assertive, watchful, and report anything suspicious.
But for the 2,977 victims of 9/11, all we could do was remember. And we still remember. We remember the horror of people hanging out of open windows a hundred stories up, helpless to rescue themselves. We remember the heroism of great men and women who charged up the stairs of those buildings to save anyone, everyone they could, full with the knowledge that they themselves would not make the return trip down those same stairs.
Is anyone ever really ready to die? Ten years ago we took for granted that tomorrow would be their for us. Then the towers fell. Suddenly we realized again or for the first time that life is precious. Our life was a gift. We held our family closer, prayed to our creator more fervently, more humbly. How much of that feeling has now faded away from us? Do we demonstrate the same sense of urgency about telling our loved ones that we… love them? Or have we returned to the illusion that tomorrow will be just like today, and the next day, and the next.
What if we discovered, today, that we only had 30 days to live? What would we change? Where and with whom would we choose to spend our time? Would we give God more thanks, more praise, more service? Would we listen more closely for His voice? Would we be quicker to follow His lead? Would our family and friends get more of our energy? Would we have kinder words to say? Would we keep hanging on to our grudges or would we seek forgiveness and give the gift of forgiveness more freely? Would we answer the cell phone when a loved one is calling or click off the ringer, thinking that we can call back later but we are too busy right now?
These are the questions we seek to ask and the questions we pray to answer right now at our church.