In Remembrance of the Events of September 11, 2001, The First Anniversary
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Beloved of Christ Jesus, as we gather for this special Service today let me begin by asking that we not become overly-sentimental about this date, or use it to feel sorry for ourselves. Rather our best posture today is to humble ourselves before God, and acknowledge that we are always dependant on Him, in good times and bad, in life and in death.
The words I just read from the Old Testament book of Chronicles were spoken to the nation of Israel; but their New Testament promise is to the church. God calls us continually, 1) to humble ourselves, 2) to pray, 3) to seek His face in the Word and the Sacraments and 4) turn from our wicked ways. So may these commands and these promises be the theme for our Service today.
Before we get to the matter at hand let me also welcome members of our Safety Forces here today. We thank God for you! We honor you and pray for you on a regular basis. So when you feel that you are alone and that all things are against you, know that there is a beacon of prayer somewhere in this city, ascending to the King of kings to strengthen, comfort, protect and defend you. God save you.
Now to the matter at hand – why we’re here today. Because this date marks the one year anniversary of the boldest terrorist attack in modern history.
It is the single largest act of foreign aggression carried out on American soil since the War of 1812. More people died last year in the terrorist acts of September 11th than at Pearl Harbor.
It was not an act of just war on the part of our enemy, it wasn’t self defense or retribution for wrongs committed against them. Please don’t listen to the liberal establishment, and other simple minded people who say that we deserved this or that we brought this upon ourselves because we support Israel as a political ally. Those are only clever lies told by the enemy among us, to divert our attention from what needs to be done.
We’ve gathered today to contemplate a cold-blooded act of mass murder by people who couldn’t sleep at night unless they shed innocent blood. Paul wrote about them 2000 years ago (Romans 3:15-18) when he said: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known.
But this wasn’t just an attack on the United States, it was also an attack against Western Culture and against the Christian faith which for hundreds of years has inspired and informed Western Civilization. And it was carried out against the United States of America because we are the chief representatives of Western life – thought we’ve fallen far from our former glory in that regard.
Our government, our economy and our citizens were attacked by radicals, based on what they perceive to be a religious and cultural war in which they want to rule us or destroy us. Those are the only options for them, rule or destroy. They will never be happy till every woman wears a birkah, every man grows a beard. They want to make music, soccer, television and flying a kite as illegal here as they were in Afgahnistan under the Taliban; and they want every man, woman and child to bow down to the east five times a day, and pray to allah and to mohammed.
That’s what they want, and it would be impossible to lodge more serious charges against any group of people.
Justice demands that the United States of America (not the Christian church, but the U.S.A.) strike back with all possible might, and that our military forces root out such aggression with all vigor – this is what God established governments for. Without such resolve civilization ends, tyranny rules, anarchy reigns, the strong only will survive by preying on the weak. There will be no justice, no rights, no peace, no life, no liberty, no pursuit of happiness…only a constant state of terror and the most abject slavery as long as people like this go unchallenged.
Such is life in a world whose every inhabitant is incurably infected with sin.
But thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ who gives us the victory. Though this world will never know very much peace, Jesus overcame sin by His death on the cross and has brought Life and Immortality to light through the Gospel (2 Tim 1:9). And our Lord’s promise is this, that “whoever believes in Him”, though he suffer the worst atrocities in this life, “whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
But there’s also something that makes gathering together on this date feel foolish. This is not the greatest calamity ever to strike a people.The bombing of London in WW II was far more tragic than this. The sacking of Constantinople in 1453 was more discouraging than this. In 1932 a man made famine was responsible for the death of seven million Ukrainian people. And more innocent babies die in abortion chambers each day than died last September.
What feels bad about this gathering is that we’ve had it so good for so long; we’re so ignorant of history as a people and so proud in all the wrong ways, that we think we are someone special to have undergone such an attack. We’re outraged that someone should do such a thing to us.
We think we are entitled to better treatment, and should somehow be exempt from such things. But dear friends, we are no one special.
The history of humanity has been a history of war with a few brief intervals of relative peace and prosperity. And for all of our attempts to create a heaven on earth through so-called “social sciences” – nothing has changed since day one. You and I are as unenlightened and brutal as our fore fathers and fore mothers thousands of years ago.
And so if we have any reason to gather today may it first be for the sake of humility! Not for prayer – at least not at first. Not to ask God for more goodies so that we can enjoy our prosperity and be left alone to exercise our self-chosen “life-style”. But for humility’s sake, which in Christian terminology means repentance, that is, that we recognize our sins, have sorrow over them, and sincerely confess them to God whom we have offended. Not the imaginary social sins which liberals are always carping about, for there is no such thing – but rather our own personal transgressions against God’s Word.
Many of our fellow Americans decry what they consider “immoral” social policy while privately living the most depraved lives imaginable, living in adultery, greedy for gadgets and good times, for personal pleasure, personal fulfillment, personal gain, the perfect bagel a cup of cappuccino.
We are a godless and irreverent people, who want freedom without truth, without responsibility and without accountability to anyone, least of all to God. It’s true of you and it’s true of me; it’s true of media anchormen and of our nation’s school teachers; of car mechanics and waitresses. It’s the case with retired people and with drug addicts living on the street; with the battered woman and her children too. All have sinned, there is none that is righteous, no not one. (Romans 3:10 & 23)
Dear Friends, we cannot live without Christ, without His grace and mercy and peace; without His love, His Word and His light in the world to dispel the darkness and the hatred. It all works well in theory, but minus these precious commodities we would all kill one another, and die in our sins.
But St. John promises in his first epistle that: if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all iniquity. He proclaims that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, who is the atonement for our sins, and for the sins of the world. (1 John 1:8 and 2:1ff)
So let us all humble ourselves before God, that He will exalt us in due time.
It’s also important that we meet here today, being led by our own pastors because the past 12 months have encouraged the most incorrect possible ideas about religion.
Some within Christianity have seen this disaster as a call to reject the doctrines that make our holy Christian faith the beacon of hope that it is. We’ve been told by supposed Christians that all religions worship the same God. That the deity of islam is the same as the One, True God, and that all religions are equally valid before God when they are not.
Christians do not worship the god of islam. We worship, praise, honor, believe, teach and confess the Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And while there are many that men call gods, apart from Him there is no God.
So most importantly today let us once again consider who God is and what He has done for us. He is the Father who created us, the Son who redeemed us and the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us in the one true faith.
Dear friends, the Bible teaches, and we believe, that God has created us in His own image! That He loves us and sustains us and that He has eternal plans for us. We are not accidents. We are not evolved from apes, and we are not alone in this vast universe. We are not hopeless or friendless. We don’t only have a God who is the source of all good, but one who reveals Himself in Scripture to be eternal, all present, all powerful, all knowing and most importantly filled with love and mercy for His fallen creation.
A love shown most perfectly in the sending of His only begotten Son into the world to redeem us from the sin which has so thoroughly destroyed us. Christ came to be born as we are born; to live and experience all the bitter pain and disappointment of life as you and I do; to take our guilt, our curse, our pain and our penalty upon Himself and to suffer the wages of our sin, to feel icy death and to be forsaken by God, so that we might be eternally received by Him.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that through his poverty you might be rich (2 Cor. 8:9)
But God is more than just the Father and the Son; He is also the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us, who causes the Gospel to be preached so that we might hear it and believe. He is the Comforter, the divine Paraclete who puts us in remembrance of all that Jesus did and taught, so that we might always have divine Light in our lives. It is He who called us, gathered us, enlightened and sanctified us by the sacrament of baptism. It is He who brought the Christian church into being, against which not even the very gates of hell can not prevail, and in which Christian church He richly and daily forgives the sins of all believers and gives to all believers in Christ everlasting life.
It is He who inspired the Scriptures to be written and called men into the holy ministry to preach them.
It is this same Holy Spirit who has “renewed the face of the earth” by inspiring the noblest of Christian philosophies, which have always stirred men to reach upward and reach outward in love for their fellow man. It is from this very font of Spirit-driven wisdom that mortal man learns mercy and justice; love and sacrifice. And from this firm foundation we have built hospitals, schools, orphanages and institutions of charitable giving.
This same Holy Spirit has given gifts to men to produce breathtaking works of art and literature which have never been equaled in beauty and in power to inspire; works of Christian liturgy, hymnody and other great pieces of music which have the power to penetrate our cold hearts and warm them with Divine Love and mercy, even in our darkest hour.
These things didn’t come from allah or from mohammed dear friends. They came from God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.
Don’t let anyone confuse you or divert your attention from this only true Go d and the one saving faith, which only can see you through the greatest trial all of us are yet to face, the storm of death. Through faith in Christ we can die with calm, knowing that our sins have been expunged and that we are beloved children of the Heavenly Father, and in whose house are many rooms. Jesus has gone there to prepare one for you; and He will come back to take you there, so that where He is, you may be also.
So give thanks unto the LORD, to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, for He is good and His mercy endureth forever.
Delivered on 9/11/02 at the Service of Prayer and Supplication in Remembrance of the Events of September 11, 2001
Rev. Dean Kavouras, Assistant Pastor,
Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland Safety Forces
FBI Cleveland Division