I will never forget it. Sitting in my office, watching a small black-and-white television as first one, then two towers of the World Trade Center came down in a horrific spectacle of smoke and debris. Like those who received word of Pearl Harbor or the assassination of John F. Kennedy, we will always be able to say where we were when we heard the news. When we saw those pictures.
And the world will never be the same, at least for this generation of Americans. We have seen and experienced things that will have a life-changing impact on us.
It Has Changed the Way We Live
Like many others I know, I have been one who made it a habit of arriving at airports with just enough time to make my flight. Not any more. Our transportation practices and methods will change in some significant ways. Oh, we will continue to fly, but we’ll all share in some changes and inconveniences that will affect us in various ways.
Those who live and work in our largest cities will feel the impact of September 11 in even more significant ways. Many will carry with them forever the fear of being a potential target. Some fear going back to work in large, high profile buildings which could conceivably attract the attention of terrorists.
Many in my generation grew up learning to “duck and cover” in anticipation of a nuclear attack. Will our children grow up with the spectre of bioterrorism hanging over them?
From travel to investments to the workplace, that terrible day changed the way we live. But of much greater significance,
It Has Changed the Way We Think
September 11, 2001, may go down as the day postmodernism began to die. The moral relativism and cynicism that so pervaded the spirit of the age also imploded that day, as millions of Americans realized — many for the first time — that all values are not really equal after all. Millions of people are recognizing that evil exists. Millions of people are discovering that — faced with a moment of terrible crisis — their first reaction is to turn to God.
What a remarkable turn of events. In that most secular of cities on Sunday, September 16, New York’s churches were filled with people seeking answers, seeking solace, seeking hope. That day, many New Yorkers discovered for themselves the hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.
Across America, people are singing “God Bless America” without a note of sarcasm or insincerity. On that Friday which our President declared a Day of Prayer and Remembrance, millions of schoolchildren sat in their classrooms and heard a profound word about God; it will be hard to have the same conversations about prayer in schools that existed before September 11.
And in a remarkable partnership, our churches have responded to this time of national crisis in a powerful way. On our Preaching magazine website (www.preaching.com), we have collected some of the sermons preached in the days following September 11. They reflect the kind of biblical, caring messages that were preached in thousands of congregations across America. They are filled with hope, with calls for mercy as well as justice. They offer a word from the Lord to a nation in need.
Now the task begins, as men and women of God — church leaders from across the denominational rainbow — continue to speak those words of truth and grace to our nation and our world. We need to continue to teach the lessons that were taught so well in September: that evil exists, but God is greater; that with God’s help we can stand tall in the face of tragedy; that God’s love is our one, true source of hope, and that love is expressed most fully in Jesus Christ.
If our nation hears and responds to that message, then the victims of terror will not have died in vain.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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