[This message was preached on September 13, 2001–two days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011. It is republished in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of those attacks. An extended reflection on these events from the perspective of 2011 will follow.]

Preachers are expected to speak when no one else has any idea what to say. This is not an enviable position. Standing at the graveside, the dying bedside, the scene of the accident, the preacher is supposed to know what to say, when nothing seems right to say.

Sometimes, saying nothing is best. We can be too hasty to speak, too eager to explain, too superficial in our answer, or too arrogant in our presumption. At other times, silence would be mere cowardice and the abdication of calling and responsibility. To fail to speak in these moments is to deny one’s calling and to fail the supreme test of authentic ministry.

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