Wilson Phillips and the September 11th Anniversary

This Sunday, it will have been 10 years since I flipped on The Today Show to see WTC 1 in flames and watch helplessly as United 175 slammed into WTC 2.

I am sure that I am not the only pastor struggling with how best to approach this tragic anniversary. Personally, there is already so much national attention paid to this truly national tragedy (lest we forget the thousands of soldiers who have died in the wars begun in the aftermath) that churches have a responsibility to re-center their congregations lives around praise and pursuit of God. That, however, doesn’t mean we do nothing.

The UMC website has some great resources for this purpose. For congregations particularly affected by the events of 9/11, they provide orders of service. For others, there are litanies and prayer helps which provide congregations ways to observe and commemorate this day. I was looking at these resources when something of miracle happened to me–as the resources I was reading (found here) were very powerful.

No matter your connection to the events of that fateful day, you were no doubt affected in any number of ways. I was remembering the way in which I was affected. I was driving through Fort Wayne, Indiana–attending classes at IPFW–and saw empty businesses and signs shockingly announcing $4.00 gasoline. The mall was nearly empty and everyone was walking around in various states of confusion or disbelief. I was walking through the mall because the professor of my final class for the day was grounded in New York City. It was surreal.

I was remembering all of this and looking at the years since that day–not feeling real great. Downright despondent, even. There have been continued terrorist attacks on Americans–mostly abroad. There have been wars begun in retaliation and preemption. There have been thousands of America’s finest killed in those wars. Lastly–but not least–the economy and all the factors which go into it have been decimated, leaving hopelessness in its wake.

As I felt flooded by all the emotions which go along with al of those realizations–and reading the words of the psalmist that say “be gracious to me…for I am in distress”–Wilson Phillips’ song “Hold On” begins playing through my headphones. I don’t pay much attention to the first verse, which goes:

I know this pain
Why do lock yourself up in these chains?
No one can change your life except for you
Don’t ever let anyone step all over you
Just open your heart and your mind
Is it really fair to feel this way inside?

Now, the theology in those lyrics is bad if not non-existent. However, I was soon pulled out of this daze of remembrance and emotion by the drums announcing the breakdown of the chorus (dah-duh-dum-da-da-duh-dum-dum) and a three-part harmony begins to belt out:

Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to
Turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let them
Hold you down and make you cry
Don’t you know?
Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day

It may seem like a silly happenstance, but all I could do throw back my head in an appreciative laugh in recognition of God’s presence with me in that moment. Those words are perfect for the remembrance of this day. I am not saying that churches should begin to practice the choral arrangement of this song for Sunday, but maybe we can take these words and apply their original meaning to our whole lives.

September 11th, 2001 was a day which will live in infamy, and the aftermath for those involved won’t be over for years to come. However, let us (pastors, parishioners, etc.) be marketers of the peace and hope that come from the God we worship and serve–the hope that helps us to “Hold On.”

One comment on “Wilson Phillips and the September 11th Anniversary

  1. Jim
    September 6, 2011 at 2:54 PM #

    Gotta new one for you…I just made it up:
    Bible = Believers Imperative to Boldly Love Everyone

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