To begin today I want to speak to you about events of 9/11 2001 that you may not know.
Most of us remember that 2606 people died at the twin towers that day, this number includes 71 law enforcement officers and 343 firemen.
The twin tower memorial foundation states that on an average day there were 40,000 people working in the twin towers, visitors could increase the number of people in the towers upwards toward 100,000.
September 11, 2001 was the first day of school for many, there was a primary election that day, there had been an NFL football game the night before, and a large electrical storm. As a result, many people were late for work that morning many offices did not open until 9:00 am and visitors had not yet begun to arrive.
As a result, when the planes hit instead of 40 to 100 thousand people in the towers there were approximately 14,000 people in the towers. This means almost 12,000 people escaped the towers that day nearly 6000 were injured but most of these survived
A coincidence maybe, but I am reminded of Romans 8 :28
We know that all things work together for good……..
Our scripture today is Luke 15:1-10
In one way or another we have all lost something that we treasured. We are left to grieve our loss,
As I researched the events of 9/11 I read several stories of those who survived, everyone who worked in the towers lost their jobs that day, all of them suffered post traumatic stress issues to various degrees. When we lose someone unexpectedly, before their natural life expectancy we mourn not only the loss of the beloved person but the loss of the dreams of future joyful times that will not be shared.
Today as we observe the 15th anniversary if the terrible loss our country suffered that day, the majority of us also experience the loss in one way or another, as do the family, friends, co-workers and an army of volunteers who raced to New York to assist. Like one Red Cross volunteer here today who’s assigned task was to compile a complete list of all the personal information on all of the fireman lost that day, for use by charity organizations wishing to help.
Just as we grieve us loses when we wander away from God he grieves for us, and I believe he searches for us and calls us to return and draw close to him.
I have shared with you I am in recovery from alcohol abuse and 36 years ago this month God spoke to me and I surrendered my alcohol problem to him I have no trouble believing that the angels celebrated with Joy that day as I walked out of the gates of Hell and into the life God meant for me to live.
Rob Bell in his book “Love wins” states that he does not believe there really is a Hell, that we create it here on earth when we wander away from God. I know from my experience when I did not believe God Loved me I lost the Hope that radiates from his love and that truly is Hell. God wants us to be happy and joyful as we serve him and so the heavens rejoice when we are found and return to his flock.
I am going to share another little story of how I found my way back to God’s fold, when I did not really know I was lost.
The second step of the 12 steps of recovery is “Came to Believe that a power greater then ourselves could restore us to sanity” This step is my favorite and the word believe is the symbol that reminds me I must rely on God for my recovery.
SO I see this soap dispenser one day with the word Believe on it and home it comes.
Awhile later I am in Walmart and I see there is a bathroom set that goes with the soap dispenser so I decide to buy it for my birthday. I load the toothbrush holder with the word Praise and the soap dish with the word Serve and reach for the cup with the word Trust.
I stand there with the cup almost shocked…. I cannot take it home. My life story has pretty much removed trust from my vocabulary. So I put the cup back on the shelf and continue my shopping.
But I cannot get the cup out of my mind. And I cannot seem leave the store. At last it comes to me, yes I think the Holy Spirit speaks to us in Walmart if there is something we need to know, as I returned to collect the cup with the word trust on it, I realized I had trusted God with my salvation, I had trusted him with my recovery, but I had not trusted him with my life, the good and the bad. I could almost hear the angels singing as I approached the check stand.
When I lost my grandson two years ago tomorrow I was faced with my children’s grief and there was nothing I could do to comfort them accept pray. And ask you to pray for them.
I watched them fill the empty hole in their lives with their efforts to fight texting and driving and knew it was God’s answer to our prayers.
I had lunch with my daughter-in-law Lisa Thursday as I was leaving I said “my whole congregation is praying for you and Jim every day.” She replied people ask me often how I can cope with loosing Sam so well and she tells them it is because lots of wonderful people are praying for them and she knows they are loved.
I believe we can trust that when we get lost be it due to anger, fear, hurt, sorrow and even just plain old forgetfulness of how important it is to be grateful for God’s Love. God will come searching for us and when we are ready to let him find us the heavens will rejoice that we are found.