As I am typing I am listening to one of the best songs ever written. Shortly after the terror attacks on our country, my husband and I attended a concert which was a double feature presenting two individual artists. Soon, both of them came on the stage together and sang this song. I had heard it before, but in light of the recent events, it was particularly poignant. I love the song. My husband even used it in one of our church services a couple of years ago. This morning as I browsed through a song book looking for something to finger onto the keys, I saw this song. As I pounded out the music, my heart swelled again. This song never fails to bring a tear to my eye.
(If you would rather read the words as you listen to the song, click on this link. I could not get it to let me choose this video):
I had not planned on writing about 9/11 because it is not a Christian holiday or anything, but as I have watched the news this week, and as it has been mentioned day after day, I have noticed a recurring theme:
GOD IS NOT INVITED TO THE MEMORIAL SERVICE!
I find this shocking since the first thing that most people did after the the attack was turn to God. Yet, under the guise of not offending anyone, the mayor of New York has decided that the group he chooses least to offend is the atheists. I guess that they are the most outspoken! (A group of them has even sued to keep the "cross" that was all that remained of the rubble out of the memorial.)
I learned, further, that the leaders who presided over this tragedy will not be allowed to speak at the event, reminding us of the significance of that day on our lives spiritually or patriotically - they may only read poetry. I was also disappointed to hear that the rescue personnel will be simply included in the list of names without any proper distinction of police or fire dept. along with their name that identifies them as one of those who chose to give their life for others. - - That as everyone else was running out of the building, they were running in! "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
It feels to me like this memorial service is something that they are obligated to do, so they want to do it quickly and get it over with. I get the impression that they do not want something too emotional, religious, or patriotic. I don't think that's what the families of the victims, or the American people want.
Just read the names, fold it up, and put it in your pocket to get on with the week.
Check it off the list.
While I am the last person to recommend turning this memorial into a circus, I am disappointed that it will devoid of any significant meaning!
Pain has a way of helping us to remember that we need God, but when that pain begins to diminish, how easily we forget.
Scripture is full of stories of people who get comfortable in their lives and forget God, then suffering and pain turn them back to Him, then they get comfortable again and forget... and this cycle is continually repeated. (If you want to read a good synopsis of this circle, read Psalm 106 and 107.)
This morning I read Psalm 95 which calls the children of Israel not to neglect their worship and thankfulness to God - unlike their fore-fathers who tried His patience even though they had seen His mighty works on their behalf causing Him to declare "They shall never enter my rest." The contrast rests on a pivotal verse which simply states,
"Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts..."
Let's not harden our hearts and forget how we turned to God then. Let's draw near to Him again and stay close to Him, continue to need Him, and never stop talking about the God Who was there when 9/11 happened.
Even if the mayor of New york will not acknowledge God on this occasion, we as Christians should not neglect to do it.