In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis community and many from the greater St. Louis area gathered for a special prayer service on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 6:15 p.m. in the Seminary’s Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus. Seminarian Aaron Rosenau, student body president; Dr. James Brauer, professor at Concordia and dean of the chapel; and Dr. John F. Johnson, president of Concordia Seminary, led the service.
During the service, Johnson addressed those gathered concerning the tragic events of the day. Since many requests have been received for a copy of his words, they are included below:
Special Prayer Service
September 11, 2001
Today, a calamity of extraordinary proportions has befallen our nation.
The attitude and perspective of one entire generation of Americans was
formed by one date in history – December 7, 1941. Now, the attitude and perspective of another generation of Americans, mine and most of you who study and teach in this place, will be forever formed by another date – September 11, 2001.
It is appropriate, as a community of faith, that members of the Seminary family gather this evening for a time of prayer and reflection.
First, it is appropriate because this community, of all communities, understands the extent of human sinfulness. The fallen state of humankind has again reared its head through acts of evil people eventuating in wanton death and destruction.
Second, this community, of all communities, understands that true justice is not to be found in brassy patriotism which allows desire for vengeance to overcome our common welfare. We pray that God would grant wisdom to our national leaders as they weigh appropriate action in response to those accountable for the tragic events of this day.
Third, and most importantly, this community, of all communities, understands that God remains the Guardian of all our lives. And so we pray for confidence in God who reigned from a cross and continues to reign over heaven and earth.
Some 450 years ago, Martin Luther wrote these words:
Christians are wise when they persevere in believing God’s promises. His promises are dependable and lasting. The Lord’s own pledge is permanent, as we read in the Psalms: “Indeed, the Guardian of Israel never rests or sleeps.” (Psalms 121:4)
But human reason responds, “That’s all fine and good. It even sounds nice. But I’m experiencing the exact opposite. God not only sleeps, He snores! In reality, there isn’t a God who takes care of me or watches over me.”
Jacob was certain of God’s promises. He knew that God’s pledge was permanent. Yet, when Joseph’s brothers were angry at Joseph, God didn’t spare either Jacob or his son Joseph. It was as if they had no protection at all from the holy angels. Nobody resisted the anger of Joseph’s brothers (Genesis 37:12-28). God and the angels remained dead silent. Even today, they appear to let the devil wreak havoc. Where is God in all of this?
Examples like these remind us that we must believe God’s promises and never doubt his words. Because God can’t lie, He won’t stop constantly watching over us, especially if we believe His promise. Because He is faithful, God can’t abandon us when we hang onto what He has promised. God may allow us to be attacked, led to the edge of hell, or even killed. It is during those times we need to remember that God promised to be our Guardian – one who never rests or sleeps.
Professor David Wollenburg of our faculty received this afternoon an e-mail from his brother who lives and ministers in New York City. “My guess,” it said, “is that hundreds of children will return from school today without parents.” This is true. But even this day, God was not asleep. We may not understand His plan and ways with the world. We gather tonight in anxiety and grief yet also in confidence that God remains our Guardian.