(Posted Sept. 10, 2016)
This coming Sunday at 10 a.m. is so many special things for us all – for First Church, it’s Homecoming or Rally Sunday – the first service of a new church season with our wonderful choir, and a reason to come back, say hello to old friends, and find out what’s doing in your church. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been gone. No explanations are necessary. We’re just glad to welcome you back.
And, it goes without saying, this Sunday is the fifteenth anniversary of the tragedy of September 11, the first time it’s fallen on a Sunday. Fifteen years: I’m saying to myself that the number seems impossible. Wasn’t it just like last week for many of us? And yet it’s important to note that, to any of our children who are younger than age 10, September 11 is something they don’t personally remember. For this year’s kindergarteners, this date will forever remain as a date in their history books, learned about but not experienced, much the way that Pearl Harbor is for all but a sector of us. Important, but not seared into the clay of personal memory.
Perhaps, in its own way, the phrase that we associate with this date should apply to both Homecoming Sunday and September 11 each significant to you in a different sense: Never Forget.
Never Forget. Never forget the reasons why you loved coming to First Church before life got so hectic. Never forget how the music made your soul raise up a sense of gratitude for God, or helped you sort through your problems. Never forget how much fun it is to watch our young children follow in the footsteps of leagues of Church School children long ago. Never forget the sunlight streaming in through the glass and kissing the edges of the pews. The great thing is all of these sources of memory are still right here, waiting for you.
Never Forget. Amid the shock and grief of September 11, remember what imprinted itself upon your heart and mind from those days. Remember not only the terrible things, but also the acts of kindness, the lessons you’ve learned since those days about anger and compassion and assigning blame solely to the perpetrators and not wholesale blocks of innocent people. Never forget, but also remember that there is a whole new generation of children, a clean slate, that will need us to teach them these lessons of wisdom, not revenge. It is Sandy Dahl, wife of the pilot of Flight 93 whose crew and passengers gave up their lives that day to prevent their jet from crashing into the White House, who says of the day, “If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”
So as we gather this Sunday, it will be for a message of hope and wisdom, a message of remembering all those things that make our lives and our commitment to Christ in spite of the hatred that pervades our world. It will be a time for prayer and music and above all, the Light of God to fall on our shoulders. See you there at 10 a.m. - Pastor Pat Kriss