Biola remembers 9/11 through song and prayer

Biola students gathered for a lament service Sunday night, grieving and remembering the 9/11 attacks, 10 years later.

A+cross+adorned+in+lights+is+seen+on+stage+on+during+Sunday+nights+Sinspiration+service+in+memory+of+the+9%2F11+attacks.+%7C+Job+Ang%2FTHE+CHIMES

Mike Villa

A cross adorned in lights is seen on stage on during Sunday night’s Sinspiration service in memory of the 9/11 attacks. | Job Ang/THE CHIMES

Bethany Miller, Writer

Students came together in Chase Gymnasium to pray, remember, and sing in honor of the tenth anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday night. | Job Ang/THE CHIMES

Enough students crowded into Chase Gymnasium Sunday night to rival the attendance at events like Mock Rock or Nation Ball. Instead of energetic, however, the mood was somber. The lights were dimmed, paper lanterns hung on either side of the gym entrance, and a message on the projector screen asked for respectful silence as students arrived for Biola’s special lament service to remember the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The service, which was held in lieu of Singspiration, began with an audio recording of a message and prayer given by former Biola president Clyde Cook at chapel the morning of the attacks. During his prayer, Cook’s voice broke with emotion several times.

“Father,” he said, “we don’t know why this pain and evil happens. We only know that we trust in you.”

Cook’s words were a sentiment reiterated throughout the service. In a video recorded Sunday afternoon on the streets of New York City, current Biola president Barry Corey said, “All the ash and dust [from collapse of the World Trade Center towers] looked like a war zone. But out of that comes hope.”

Biola senior Lydia Berding and Torrey Honors professor John Fox, who were both living in New York City 10 years ago on Sept. 11, recounted their memories of that day and the days following. Berding, who was 11 years old at the time, remembered looking over the city skyline from a hill as smoke billowed from Ground Zero.

“There was this sense of sadness and mourning over the people whose lives had been lost,” she said.

Fox, who was living within a few miles of the Twin Towers, told of walking towards Ground Zero after the first tower collapsed until he reached a police blockade. He could see the lights of emergency vehicles enveloped in smoke only blocks away.

“I thought, ‘This is the mouth of hell,’” Fox said.

Despite the horrific nature of the things they witnessed 10 years ago, both Fox and Berding said they had seen God at work in themselves and their communities. Berding said people had poured into her church seeking prayer, and Fox said he’d come to understand the profundity of forgiveness, which he urged students to embrace.

Chapel Board staff also read passages of lament from Psalms and Jeremiah. After each passage, the worship leaders led students in a repeated chorus begging for God to hear their prayers.

Todd Pickett, Dean of Spiritual Life, was the final speaker before the closing worship. After sharing from the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12, reminding students to care for those who have suffered loss, he paraphrased from Thessalonians 4:13-18 to express the purpose and overall theme of the lament service.

“We grieve,” he said, “as those with hope.”

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