On the morning of 9/11/2001, the students at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Ind., were already in their 8:00 classes when the attack occurred. When classes broke the news was only beginning to spread on campus and the students headed off to the daily chapel service at 10:00a.m. The preacher for the day was Rev. Richard Radtke, senior pastor at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, Ind. He abandoned the sermon he had planned on preaching. This, instead, is what he preached to those who had gathered in Kramer Chapel:
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The news this morning is very grim. A commercial airliner crashed into one of the buildings of the World Trade Center in New York City. A few minutes later, another airline crashed into the second World Trade Center building. Then another commercial aircraft crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C.
Just a few minutes ago, we heard news that one of the World Trade Center buildings collapsed. There is a great deal of confusion and horror about all this. In the midst of this tragic news, we ask: How can this be? How can this happen in our own land – in America? Yet, this terrible tragedy shows the brokenness of this world, and how this world is truly a culture of death. This means that today we can see even more than ever the need for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is why you are here – as professor, student, staff, or pastor. In his words of comfort before the service began, President Wenthe said that the work of this seminary will go on because of what has happened this morning. Nothing else can give us the true hope that we need other than the word of our Lord. And so, in my homily this morning, I will spend a few moments on today's Gospel, which is our calling to follow Jesus, and then apply your calling to this morning's tragic events.
The call to follow Jesus surpasses all else. But on our own, who could qualify? Not one of us here, or anywhere, for that matter. Because of our sin, we are all not only spiritually impoverished, but the Scriptures call us spiritually dead. The call to follow Jesus is serious and severe. We must renounce all to follow Him – and not depend on family, possessions, works, or self.
But the One who calls us is gracious. The One who is sinless became sin for us, and carried our sin in His flesh to the cross. In Jesus Christ we find our life and our hope. His gospel is our invitation. He invites us to come to Him and find rest for our souls. He invites us to come and follow Him.
The call to follow Jesus is especially meaningful for us today as we witness the horrifying events of this morning. We know that the evil one, satan, is working ever so hard to silence the word of God. He is working evil in this world to confuse and mislead all people, even the people of God. He wants us to take our eyes off the gospel and the Lord Jesus. And so, we must trust in our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord our God has promised in His word: "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Our Lord Jesus invited us to come to Him with these words: "Come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The Scriptures are filled with words of comfort that remind us of the presence and power of our Lord at all times, and especially when we face these difficult and perilous times.
Things will never be the same in the United States. More tragedies may yet happen this day. It will be "a day of infamy." I would urge all of us to pray for our nation, for President Bush, and for all our leaders, that God would give them strength and courage for today and for all the days to come.
In a few moments, we will have the opportunity to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion. We so need the strength that God gives in the true body and blood of His Son Jesus Christ. We so need the presence of our Lord among us as we struggle with questions about this national tragedy. Here at this altar we will be nourished, and we will receive the strength that only our Lord can give – strength for the moment and for the days that are ahead of us with all the uncertainties of these times. Therefore I commend you to our gracious and loving God, and I pray with you for His strength for our nation and all our leaders and for those who proclaim the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. May His peace be with you. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
© CTQ 65 (October 2001):297-98.
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!