We have just observed the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. For so many people, the day is a time of remembrance, mourning and reflection. Prior to 2001, September 11 was just another day on the calendar for many folks. That is, except for people like us, who observed a family birthday on that day. Our son was born on September 11, and it was always such a happy day. When the terrible events of 9/11/01 occurred, I had to spend the evening on campus, instead of at home observing our son's fifteenth birthday. I apologized to him and promised that I would make it up to him. In his disarmingly simple and honest way, he replied, "It's okay Dad, I understand." I was so touched by his willingness to think of the big picture, even on his birthday. Three years later, I had to apologize to him again because something else took center stage on his 18th birthday: the death of my father. Again, our son was understanding, as was his sister, about the confluence of events. He helped to care for me during that difficult time. In our family, September 11 has several different meanings, two very personal, and one more universal. I was thinking about this and realized that the myriad events of that day for our family say something about the love of the God we claim to worship: there is not one of those events that falls outside the realm of the life of faith. People of faith celebrate, we mourn, we come together in times of tragedy. And though events such as the attacks on the World Trade Center cause us to ask questions about God and the efficacy of our faith in times of loss, we need not think that we, nor anyone else experiencing loss, has been abandoned. I do not need to attribute tragedy to God's will in order to try to make some sense of it; I am willing to live with mystery, lest I make God out to be a mass murderer. I cannot think of a better practical application of something the Apostle Paul wrote than what I have described above. Paul said it this way: "We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living." Romans 14:7-9.
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