This Sunday in worship at FBC Columbus we will play a video featuring Alan Jackson’s song Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning? as a call to reflection and prayer on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It’s one of those questions most of us know the answer to: Where were you?
I was just dropping our youngest child (then two years old) off at the babysitter’s when we stopped to watch the images unfolding on the morning news program playing on television. We stood there in her living room horror-struck as we (like many of you) witnessed the second plane slam into the other twin tower. The world changed that day. It’s hard to believe it has been ten years, but that two-year old is now almost as tall as her mother and has hardly known a world without the threat of terror.
It seems every generation has had their “where were you” question(s). Where were you when . . . . Pearl Harbor was bombed? . . . President Kennedy was shot? . . . MLK was assassinated?. . . . the Challenger exploded? Sometimes we even turn the question around and ask it of God. “Where were you, God?” is asked in a manner consistent with, “How could you let this happen?”.
Thumbing through this week’s Time magazine special feature on 9/11 ten years later, I’m struck by the power those images still evoke. More powerful still are the stories. Stories of survivors and heroes, of children growing up without parents, of parents and spouses mourning those who died in the terror attacks.
But if you listen, in the middle of it all, you will also hear stories about faith and God. A man who survived the attack recalls feeling guided toward a stairway he normally would not have taken (no one who took the other stairway survived). A widow gives thanks for the good-bye phone call shared with her husband before the plane went down. A father remembers listening to a pastor on the radio on the one year anniversary of 9/11 and his daughter’s death: “He said, ‘God was where he always is, walking right beside you. But you have a choice. You can turn to him for consolation and strength or you can turn away from him in bitterness and hatred. . . . . We decided to turn toward him. That’s made all the difference.”
Yes, we all remember where we were on days like 9/11. Thanks be to God that we were – we are – not alone.