Ten years ago today members of the Lutheran Church of Honolulu gathered at the church to grieve the senseless loss of life and console one another after an unspeakable tragedy. It may have been the only service in its long history to not have music of any kind — no organ music, no choral music, not even a congregational hymn. We were all too shocked for words — or melodies.
When the first plane hit the World Trade Center at 8:46 am, it was in the wee hours of the morning in Hawaii. I remember our next-door neighbor telling us to “Turn on your TV!” about 5:30 am, and when we saw what was happening, we were sure that it was the end of the world. Pastor David Barber called Carl Crosier to let him know that LCH members would be contacted via phone tree to come to the church that evening for a short service. As I said earlier, it was a service with no music — just prayers and scripture readings. But at the end, people were allowed to speak what was on their hearts and minds about all the tragic events of the day.
In the last few weeks, there has been a discussion on the pipe organ listserv about what music would be appropriate for the ten-year commemoration of 9/11. Actually the music which was chosen for LCH today was selected not because it’s 9/11 but for the lectionary readings appointed:
Genesis 50:15-21. After Jacob’s death, the brothers of Joseph begged for forgiveness for the crime they had done against him. You intended to do me harm, Joseph said, but God used this as an opportunity to do good and save many lives.
Psalm 103:8-13. Lord, you are full of compassion and mercy.
Matthew 18:21-35, When Peter asks about the limits of forgiveness, Jesus responds with a parable that suggests human forgiveness should mirror the unlimited mercy of God.
These themes for the day, however, tie in with the national remembrances, and so when the choir sings Brahms’ “Lass dich nur nichts nicht dauren” the text is particularly appropriate. Let nothing ever grieve thee, distress thee, nor fret thee; heed God’s good will, my soul compose thee. Why brood all day in sorrow? Tomorrow will bring God’s help benign and grace sublime in mercy. Be true in all endeavor and ever ply bravely; what God decrees brings joy and peace, He’ll stay thee. Amen.
P.S. Many readers will recall that September 11th is Carl Crosier’s birthday, and he has said the worst birthday ever was Sept. 11, 2002 when everyone was singing Requiems. We did in fact attend the Mozart Requiem at St. Andrew’s Cathedral last night so we could celebrate Carl’s birthday today.