Most of us still know where we were and what we were doing on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed planes into the World Trade Center and later the Pentagon.
The attacks ripped a gaping hole in the hearts of Americans, a hole that still hasn’t healed as we collectively remember the attack and the victims 10 years later.
"9/11, like somebody said, is kind of like our Pearl Harbor—this generation’s Pearl Harbor," Pastor Scott McNees of said last week, before his church hosted 9/11 survivor Sujo John. "We’ve got to remember it."
McNees and his church members planned to thank area first responders Friday by bringing them food and delivering thank you notes from schoolchildren. McNees also will show the congregation a PowerPoint presentation in church Sunday, which will be a tribute to those lost in the attack and those who worked to save them. Other area pastors also plan to discuss the attack and its aftermath in their sermons today.
"I can't imagine anyone not talking about 9/11 on the 10th anniversary and that it falls on a Sunday," said Father Gary Vollmer, the priest at in Flint Hill. "I will be draping the 9/11 flag that I brought back from Ground Zero just a couple years after 9/11 when I went to New York. It has the names of all who died on 9/11 printed on the stripes of the flag. We will also display flags outside, and everyone will receive a prayer card in remembrance."
The United Methodist Church at Wentzville will also have a time of remembrance, featuring a specially commissioned piece of music, played by the Belltones Handbell Choir, and an accompanying PowerPoint of pictures "from that day and beyond," said church pastor the Rev. David Conley. "I will then lead a prayer and we, as a congregation, will sing ‘This is My Song,’ which speaks of patriotism and prayer. The theme will be the ways we, as individuals and as a country, have changed since 9/11."
Saturday was Serve 2011 day at The United Methodist Church at Wentzville, so in church Sunday the congregation will watch a video review of what they accomplished the day before. The congregation views it as a celebration, Conley said.
"Using the theme of service, we will thank those who continue to serve among us, as they did on 9/11—police, fire, medical, military, etc. The theme will be the ways we, as individuals, and as a country, have not changed since 9/11," he said. "We continue to be serving people."
Vollmer’s homily will discuss the old Middle Eastern parable story about a little boy named Miobi who came to a village where the people did "little more than moan and groan about almost everything," he said. "That's because they were expecting at any moment to get eaten by the monster that lived at the top of the mountain."
Miobi saw that the monster was real. The villagers dreaded it, so Miobi said to the villagers, "I will go to the top of the mountain and challenge the monster."
The villagers pleaded with him not to go, the parable says, but Miobi was determined and began to climb the mountain. As he climbed higher, the monster looked smaller.
Miobi thought, "When I run away from the monster, the monster gets bigger, but the nearer I get to it, the smaller it becomes."
When he finally reached the cave at the top of the mountain, the monster was merely a tiny creature the size of a frog. Miobi picked up the frog-like creature and returned down the mountain to the village. When the villagers saw Miobi safe and sound they wanted to make him their king for slaying the evil monster. He showed them the tiny monster, and the villagers asked the monster his name.
"The monster answers," Vollmer said, "that he has many names. ‘Some call me famine and some call me terrorism. Some call me cancer, and others call me a depression, but most call me What Might Happen.’ I am going to point out in my homily that there are many monsters looming around us that fill us with fear and panic. The fear of another terrible terrorist attack is always in the back of our minds. If it isn't that monster that keeps popping its head up, it's the debt ceiling, the economy, global warming, Hurricane Irene, and the list goes on and on.
"We all need to learn what Miobi learned in the parable. We all need to learn what Jesus teaches us throughout the gospels. When we try to avoid problems, issues, difficulties, they get bigger. But when we overcome our fears and acknowledge these problems—even embrace them—they get smaller. This is not to say that the problems aren't real—they are very real. But it reminds us that they won't go away by our cowering in fear. As President Franklin Roosevelt said, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’"
The Archdiocese of St. Louis has given St. Theodore permission to use the Mass for Peace and Justice for the weekend. The readings for Sunday are all about forgiveness and mercy.
"They are perfect for the 9/11 remembrance," Vollmer said. "In the gospel for that Sunday, Peter asks Jesus how many times are we to forgive our brother. Seven times? Jesus says, ‘No, not seven times. I say 70 times seven times.’ In other words, as often as necessary. The first reading from Sirach says that wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight."
Conley said his sermon Sunday will "quote from the sermons I did on 9/12 and 9/16, 2001 in the context of these questions asked by our Bishop Robert Schnase in his latest blog: ‘Where were you on 9/11? Where are you now after 9/11?’"
The United Methodist Church at Wentzville will have one service Sunday at 10 a.m. in the Christian Life Center. It will be followed by a potluck, and the public—including first responders—are invited.
"We would like anyone who is, or who has ever served, in police, fire, military, etc. to wear their uniforms so we can recognize and thank them on Sunday," Conley said. "You are especially welcome to worship with us this Sunday."