Observing in a written statement that “the world will stand still as the first post-9/11 decade comes to a close” on Sept. 11, 2011, Missouri Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison recalls the events of that day of the terrorist attacks, his own thoughts and experiences since, the “overwhelming generosity” of LCMS people and the grace of God in Christ.
“Let us join in prayer for the LCMS Atlantic, Southeastern and Eastern Districts [where the attacks occurred], and for all their leaders and people, for the witness of the Gospel in New York from Ground Zero, to the Pentagon, to Pennsylvania and beyond,” Harrison urges at the end of the statement which he titles “A Hopeful Lamentation.”
“Let us pray for our nation, our president and the military,” he continues, “for faithfulness in duty and an increase of all honorable vocations in public and military life. Let us pray especially for those who still suffer the loss of loved ones. … Let us pray for our enemies, for justice and for peace. And finally, as we lament this sinful world of pain and loss, let us lament in hope. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.”
As he begins the statement, the LCMS president admits, “I’m flooded with a swirl of disparate and even conflicting thoughts and feelings.” He writes of the progression of those thoughts and feelings from “interest” in initial news that a “ ‘small plane’ should have hit the Trade Center,” to the “shocking news” of verified accounts of that day’s attacks. “Confusion. Disbelief. Fear. Frustration. Anger. Revenge. All of that took place for me … We all have a story.”
He then recalls visits to Ground Zero and “speaking with our LCMS brothers and sisters who lost family and friends,” relating that “one dear brother shared with me, as we surveyed Ground Zero on an anniversary years later, that he had lost 30 friends that day.
“I feel ashamed even to write of my own insignificant thoughts,” Harrison writes. “This week the pain that invaded the lives of thousands upon thousands is re-lived, as though the event were just last week. Our own struggles in the Missouri Synod at the time cause me deep lamentation still. … But it is a hopeful lamentation.”
Concerning the generosity of LCMS members, Harrison writes, “Thousands upon thousands were assisted through Lutheran Disaster Response of New York , for which we provided funding.”
Harrison reminds readers, “The Lord Jesus Himself, in the face of the profound suffering He would undergo for the sake of the world, prayed ‘Take this cup from me. Yet not My will, but Thine be done’ (Matt. 26:39).
“And so it is human and by no means wrong,” Harrison writes, “for those so terribly hurt by the senseless carnage 10 years ago to lament their loss and pain even today, and to cry out, ‘Why Lord?’ Somehow, in an unfathomable way, the Lord’s hand is not shortened and His universe is still His, despite the carnage of a few madmen. And like His very cross – which appeared senseless and pointless and an end of all hope – so this suffering is purposeful. … At the last, we have one thing to say. One thing to hope. One thing to trust. And that is Christ.”
To read President Harrison’s entire statement, click here.
Posted Sept. 8, 2011