Historians call them “hinge events.” Events that become so pivotal that major movements of historical importance hinge upon the moment of their happening.
For America, there have been a number of such hinge events. The American Revolution. The Civil War. The Great Awakening. These are examples of hinge events that extended over years.
The assassination of JFK or Abraham Lincoln. The bombing of Pearl Harbor. The resignation of President Nixon. These are hinge events that happened in a moment. A single moment in time that had tremendous consequences.
Its hard to tell what its long term (100-years from now) effect will be, but in the short term 9/11/2001 has all the earmarks of a hinge event.
I had only been at Christ United Methodist Church a few months. I heard the news of the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center on the radio as I drove to the church. We spent the morning getting as much information as we could online – when the ‘net wasn’t crashing because everyone else was doing the same thing.
The rest of the day was spent counseling worried family members who couldn’t reach loved ones working in DC. Answering questions that none of us had the answers to. Trying to think of some way to respond as people of faith that made some sense in the face of tragedy.
That evening the church had a community time of prayer. People from the neighborhoods around the church crowded into our fellowship hall to draw strength from one another.
Nine years later, some of the same questions remain. How do people of faith find meaning in the face of tragedy? How do we remember those who’s lives ended far too soon? How do we “celebrate” (If that’s even the right word) Patriot’s Day?
Whatever 9/11 holds for you, I hope there are at least a few minutes when you stop and remember those moments nine years ago. It was certainly a hinge moment. In significant ways, I think it continues to be.