September 11 Lament
If you travel to Washington, D.C., visiting historic markers should be an important part of your trip. Whether it’s the memorial for Vietnam, World War II, the MLK statue, or the Lincoln monument, these locations mark the past and call us to remember. “Never forget” is a needed caution because we tend to forget the lessons of the past.
Memorials help us remember and reflect.
Nine eleven is no longer a date on a calendar. Ask anyone over the age of twenty-five where they were on September 11, 2001, and I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to tell you. I was in the church office when our secretary told us that people were calling the church to see if we knew about the “twin towers.” Before long, we connected a T.V. to a make-shift antenna to watch the news. Internet sites were overrun and crashed.
The “loop” of the second plane flying into one of the towers is an image burned in my mind. When the towers collapsed, I drove over to our Christian school to see if I could help with counseling our students. I knew thousands of people just died. We’d later learn the tragic loss of New York police officers and firemen. As people fled over the Brooklyn Bridge to escape the gray debris cloud, the nation reeled from this brazen attack in New York and our nation’s Capitol.
As we remember the significance of September 11, 2001, in our nation’s history and as we mourn those who lost their lives, how might we lament this day? In biblical history, laments served as spiritual memorials—a way to talk to God about the pain of the past while renewing our hope in him.
Perhaps, on this eighteenth anniversary of 9/11, we could memorialize this day with this kind of lament:
Father in Heaven, we remember the brokenness of our world today when we consider the number of people who lost their lives on September 11. We are reminded that over the last eighteen years, there have been empty seats at dinner tables, children and grandchildren born, graduations missed, and painful reminders at Christmas that death is real. We know this day is more than history. It is a day of great sorrow. We lament with those whose hearts are heavy today.King Jesus, we remember the shattering of peace on 9/11 that shook our nation and united us. We are reminded of prayer meetings throughout the country as we looked to you for healing and help. For a short time, our nation not only mourned, but she also pondered the frailty of life and the thin thread of security upon which all our lives depend.We pray today for families who are wrestling with grief. Grant them comfort. Help their friends and family to be kind encouragers as they mark this painful day. Let grieving parents, friends, spouses, and children feel the support of their community.We pray for our nation today. As we mark the events nearly twenty years ago, remind us of our dependence upon you. Help us remember how quickly life can change. Remind us to feel the brokenness of our world, and rekindle humility as we contemplate the meaning of this day.In remembering, it is good to return to you. Grieving families need you. The church needs you. Our nation needs you. And September 11 is a sober reminder that this was true in 2001 and it is still true today. So help us, Lord! In Jesus’s name.
Nine eleven should be more than a date on a calendar. And it should be more than a moment of remembrance. Memorials matter because they help us to remember not only what happened and who we lost.
Memorials remind us who we really need.