I was just about to leave for the office and the Today Show was on. The first plane had hit and no one really knew why for a few minutes. The second plane removed all doubt.

The next few hours were filled with phone calls with church members who had loved ones somewhere in the airspace over the US and invitations to an impromptu prayer service that evening. Before Facebook and with only hours of advance notice, a record crowd filled our auditorium.

Few events have shaped the soul of our nation like the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Collectively, we felt fear, shock, disbelief, grief, anger, and a range of other emotions. Church attendance rose to decades-high levels for six months. The way we viewed “security” changed dramatically and we buried once and for all our illusion of invincibility.

The victims of that day’s attacks should be remembered and honored, and each of us who observed that moment should never again take for granted the gift of life and freedom.

9/11 was unpredictable, unexpected, and unforgettable. It involved ordinary citizens from all walks of life – men, women, and children from many different ethnic backgrounds. Some were wealthy stock brokers and others were lower-wage employees. Many were first responders and emergency workers, and none of them realized that they’d reported to work for the final moments of their lives.

There are many things to remember about that day, but the one greatest truth I carry from it personally is my personal sense of vulnerability.

I am not invincible.

And because I am not invincible, I need to listen and tune into the voice of the Divine who approaches us in love and bears our anxieties with us.

As we mourn, as we pray, and as we seek answers from beyond this earthly home, we confess our inadequacy and our need to be strengthened and filled with hope from One who is indeed invincible, who was himself murdered by the terrorism of empirical violence, and who ultimately overcame evil by rising again from the dead.

May we never forget the sacrifices of so many heroes in the aftermath.

May we never forget the generosity shown by those who donated their time, their money, and their blood to the cause of recovery.

May we never forget our collective, universal need for forgiveness, grace, mercy, and peace – all gifts freely offered by the One whose love is readily available to us all.

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash.