We are all part of of a thousand stories. As we hear them being told, as we feel them touch us directly and personally, the stories become part of us. That's the way it is with the greatest story ever told - the Gospel. It is a story of life and death to life again. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus comes and fills us up from the outside in, until as Luther said, “Christ is poured out in us.” We receive the Story of the Gospel by grace through faith in Baptism, through Water and the Word, when the pastor marks us with the sign of the cross, and we die and rise again in Christ to walk in newness of life. It is a story of life and death to life.
Today is a day in which we remember another life and death story.
On 9/11, terror literally filled the air in New York City. Terror arrived on wings. Planes loaded with jet fuel exploded into the Twin Towers. Crews, passengers,and innocent citizens were incinerated.The buildings tumbled. Dust and smoke thick with the smell of death and destruction covered the area immediately and for weeks thereafter.
As the cloud of darkness began to grow, thousands of horrified people ran for their lives. One said “I'll never forget the sight and sound of the dust and smoke coming at us; it looked like the world was coming to an end.” Thick darkness covered the earth. Yet Christ was still the Light of the World.
A Lutheran missionary tells of standing with other Christian chaplains and praying with firefighters. As they prepared to enter the burning cauldron that was the Trade Center Plaza, he recounts, "We made the sign of the cross on their foreheads. We wanted them to remember their baptism. That’s the only promise they could know for sure at that moment — their baptismal promise.” Many never came back. But marked with the cross, they were reminded of God’s sure promise of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.
The dust has settled. The nightmares are receding. But the stories continue to be told. And one strong Story stands above them all.
It is the story of the cross of Christ. His death is our death. His resurrection is our resurrection. His life is our life.
(excerpts from Lutheran Witness, March 2002)