We will never forget the scenes that were broadcast live that Tuesday morning. As the first tower burned, it was obvious that something tragic had happened. Then the second tower was hit. We will never forget realizing that something very sinister was underway.
We will never forget the uncertainty, fear, and anger that filled us. We will never forget the bravery and heroism of those first responders who rushed into two burning towers and a fiery Pentagon. We will never forget the sacrifices of so many.
We will never forget seeing Congress – Democrats and Republicans – uniting on the Capitol steps and blending their voices together in “God Bless America.” We will never forget the sense of oneness felt that night across the country.
We will never forget September 11, 2001. In fact, the phrase “Never Forget” became synonymous with September 11 and could be found on t-shirts, bumper stickers, and yard signs everywhere.
We have not forgotten September 11, 2001. But it seems that we have forgotten September 16, 2001.
September 16, 2001 was the Sunday after 9/11. Church attendance among Americans surged that day. More of us than usual felt the need to appeal to a higher power, search for meaning in the midst of senselessness, find comfort among fellow believers, and worship One who is “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). It appeared that a 21st century Great Awakening was underway.
But it wasn’t. Church attendance remained high for a brief time, but it wouldn’t take long for it to return to pre-9/11 levels. Since 9/11, Americans’ church attendance and involvement have dropped to all-time lows.
We haven’t forgotten September 11 in fifteen years, but we have forgotten the spiritual impact that day had on many of us. What has changed? Historians and political commentators often talk about the “pre-9/11 world” and the “post-9/11 world.” The truth is that the world before and after September 11 are one and the same. The only difference is that the events of that day magnified the evils of this world, the fragility of our own existence, and humanity’s innate need for something bigger than ourselves. Fifteen years later, we must not forget the weight of these truths.
This Sunday marks a day we will never forget. More importantly, it marks the day that we should never forget – the day death was defeated through Jesus. Without that Day, no other day matters. Where will you be this September 11? Never forget what He has done for you.