resources in times of natural disaster/tragedy

Another shooting – Lord, have mercy! A gunman opened fire Sunday morning Nov 5th 2017 at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, near San Antonio, Texas. More than two dozen people are dead and many are injured.

If We Just Talk of Thoughts and Prayers 
O WALY WALY LM (“Though I May Speak”)   (MIDI)

If we just talk of thoughts and prayers
And don’t live out a faith that dares,
And don’t take on the ways of death,
Our thoughts and prayers are fleeting breath.

If we just dream of what could be
And do not build community,
And do not seek to change our ways,
Our dreams of change are false displays.

If we just sing of doing good
And don’t walk through our neighborhood
To learn its hope, to ease its pain,
Our talk of good is simply vain.

God, may our prayers and dreams and songs
Lead to a faith that takes on wrongs—
That works for peace and justice, too.
Then will our prayers bring joy to you.

(Source © 2017 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net     New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com/)

Sutherland Springs Beatitudes:
Blessed are they who are devastated,
for theirs is the realm of heaven.

Blessed are they who grieve for this country,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed they who are nonviolent,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who long for a culture of peace
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are they who seek healing, not revenge,
for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are they who desire only blessing for all,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are they who work for the healing of the world,
for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who meet opposition
in their work for peace and justice,
for theirs is the realm of heaven.

Blessed are you when people dismiss and insult you.
Rejoice, and be glad:
great is your reward in the heart of all things,
for in just this way
they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Another response: A Prayer of Anguish – Seeking Answers in a Sea of Questions, by Shane Phipps


Flooding in Texas August/September 2017

O God, We’ve Prayed in Wind and Rain
(tune: AMAZING GRACE, words: Carolyn Winfrey Gillette)

O God, we’ve prayed in wind and rain
And now we pray once more
For those who felt the hurricane
And heard the waters roar.

We pray for those who watched the storm
Destroy the life they knew,
Who wait in shelters, tired and worn,
And wonder what to do.

We thank you, God, for acts of love
Not bound by race or creed,
For hands that reach across the flood
To all who are in need.

We pray for others far away
Who’ve seen destruction, too;
We look beyond ourselves, for they
Are also loved by you.

We pray that leaders of our land
Will heed creation’s cry,
And bravely care and take a stand
For earth and sea and sky.

Where rains flood cities, homes and towns
May we go out to be
A witness that your love abounds
In each community.

Tune: Virginia Harmony, 1831 Arr. Edwin O. Excell, 1900.
Alternative Tune: ST. ANNE CM Attr. William Croft, 1708 (“Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”).
Text: Copyright © 2017 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net Website: www.carolynshymns.com

Kathy Howard has been brainstorming specific ways to pray for the flooding in Houston, south Texas, and beyond. These specific needs/items can be lifted to God in the wake of a wide range of natural events and disasters. (this list is a work in progress).
Pray for People in the Flooded Areas
Protection of all life, including family pets
Safe transportation to safe areas
Dry, comfortable lodging, safe drinking water, and nutritious food
Quick reunion for any separated families
Long-term housing for those who have lost homes
Ability to communicate with extended family and friends
Pray for Rescue Efforts by First Responders/Emergency Personnel
Reliable cell and phone service so citizens can summon help
Good, reliable communication between agencies
Safety for police officers, firemen, and emergency medical personnel
Strength, stamina and wisdom as they respond to the overwhelming need
Additional manpower from outside the area to meet the need
Pray for Ongoing Relief Efforts
Plenty of volunteer teams and government groups to respond to the need
Physical strength and stamina for the disaster relief teams
Coordination of all volunteer efforts so there will be no gaps and all needs will be met
Enough resources – money, supplies, equipment, food, and water – to meet the needs
Protect the resources from theft, fraud, and accident
Pray for Physical Conditions
Protection from additional rain and tornadoes
Open passages for built up/backed up water to safely drain away
Plenty of sources for clean drinking water
Clear roadways for emergency personnel
(Source, Kathy Howard, www.KathyHoward.org)

Grant safety to the men, women, and little children navigating the dangerous flood waters. Strengthen local clergy and congregants as they provide shelter and aid for their communities. Specifically, give wisdom and present resources to pastors and lay leaders working to provide for the physical needs of those who have lost homes, precious belongings, and are possibly separated from their loved ones. Give them courage to minister to the spiritual needs as well.
No doubt considerable fear and anxiety haunt those in affected areas. Grant unshakable peace and rid this storm’s victims of the spirit of fear. Show us all how to respond to the needs of those struggling with frustration and fear, that we may serve you well through your son Jesus Christ. Amen. (Source: Chelsen Vicari)

In Psalm 46, we read these words of encouragement and comfort: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Creator and preserver of our world, We ask you to hear our humble prayers for all those afflicted by devastating floodwaters and those still threatened by flood. Protect both life and property. In your mercy, bring relief to all affected areas.
We pray for the sick and injured, for the homeless, for the bereaved and for those still searching for loved ones in this great tragedy.   Have compassion, merciful Lord, in the midst of their profound suffering, comforting and relieving them according to their needs.
Heal those broken in body and spirit. Give courage and hope in the midst of despair. Through the generosity of governments, groups and individuals across the world, provide a future for those whose present circumstances are marked by loss and desperation. Protect all those who are most vulnerable in the areas of devastation. And by your gracious hand, rebuild communities where men, women and children are nurtured with care and love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:5b-6
Everlasting God, you know our necessities before we ask. We pray for all emergency services personnel. We thank you for the unstinting dedication and efforts of the emergency services and the nation’s defence forces. Give them courage in adversity, safety in service and protection from harm. We ask that you would also watch over their loved ones. In the service of others, may assistance be rendered to those in greatest need with speed and efficiency, justice and compassion.
We pray also for medical personnel caring for the injured. Provide ample resources and energy to doctors and nurses coping with prolonged work hours and deeply distressing circumstances.
In the midst of this tragedy, we thank you for the compassion and generosity of governments, businesses and individuals.   We ask for an ongoing spirit of care and generosity as local, state and national bodies help to reconstruct communities and bring hope to victims and to future generations.
Give wisdom to to all who exercise significant community and national leadership at this time. Enable them to chart a course through the complex challenges during all the phases of recovery in the weeks and months and years to come. In Jesus’ name we pray.   AMEN.
(Both prayers adapted from original source: Anglican Diocese of Sydney, Better Gatherings

At the same time, there is horrendous flooding in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, where more than 1,200 people have died in the worst annual monsoon floods to hit South Asia in more than a decade. More than 41 million people have had their lives disrupted.  Rescue and relief efforts are ongoing, with international aid agencies reporting thousands of villages cut off. People in remote and isolated areas have been without food and clean water for extended periods.
There are also floods in Nigeria, with more than 100,000 people having to flee their homes because of major flooding in the central state of Benue.
What prayers might be offered for vulnerable people devastated by floods, many who have little likelihood of recovering homes and possessions?

Charlottesville August 2017
Lauren Grubaugh was part of the counter-protest in Charlottesville today. She shares this reflection and prayer. She writes: 

I am exhausted by the hate and the fear and the violence and the death. So the first thing I wrote when I returned home from Charlottesville was a prayer, because I needed to remember God after what I saw today. I have struggled to pray today. The image of God to which I so often default — an image that has been instilled and reinforced by white supremacy and patriarchy — is a white, male god. Over the years, incorporating inclusive language into my prayer has helped me reimagine God in color and warmth and light. But today’s events (and the events of the last year), were a sombre reminder that the racist, patriarchal god is still deeply embedded in my psyche, and all the more so in that of our nation. This is a prayer to the God whom we have forgotten, and whom we had best remember.

To the God whom we have forgotten;
To the God who is not male and is not white;
To the God who takes no pleasure in violence;
To the God who is Love;
To the God who is tender-hearted and warm embrace;
To the God who is not deaf to Her children’s cries and is moved to tears by their suffering;
To the God whose law is love of neighbor, hospitality for the stranger,
care for the weak;
To the God whose touch is healing, whose gaze is compassion;
whose way is lovingkindness;
To the God who is Justice;
To the God who tramples fear and hatred under Her feet;
To the God who convicts our hearts, stirs our spirits, transforms our minds;
To the God who revels in the joyful dance of community and invites us to do the same;
To the God whose own child’s lynched body hung limp on a tree,
not by Her own hand,
but because of the fear and hatred of those human beings
who feared the kind of world they were promised would be ushered in
and hated the changes they would have to undergo to get there;
Our memory is so short:
Our failure to remember the sins of our parents,
Our aversion to repentance,
Our refusal to make reparations,
Is killing us.
Our souls are wasting away.
And black, brown, female, queer, trans, Muslim, differently abled bodies
Are dying.
Every day, so many.
O God whom we have forgotten,
We do not even know how to call on your name.
We have not seen you in the faces of our sisters and brothers.
We have not felt you in the pain of our neighbors, strangers, friends and enemies;
O God whom we have forgotten,
Do not let our imaginations be infiltrated by war-mongering forces of violence.
Do not let our spirits be colonized by the depressing fear of our oppressors.
Transform our minds that do not know how to think of you
Existing without these heavy chains we have placed on ourselves
and on each other. Amen.
Lauren Grubaugh

London tower fire – June 2017 

We pray for all those affected by the tragic fire in London.
We pray for the victims, the bereaved, those still searching for loved ones and for the emergency services.
Merciful God, hear our cry for your mercy in the wake of this disaster.
Reveal your presence in the midst of the suffering.
Help us to trust in your promises of hope so that desperation and grief do not overtake us. Comfort those whose hearts are broken,
Hold tight those who have lost,
support those who are responding in compassion – bringing help and healing.
Come quickly and aid those in need that they may know peace.
Strengthen us in this time of trial with the assurance of hope,
Grant that through your Holy Spirit, we may be guided to respond in love,
Grant through the presence of your Son,
that peace which passes all understanding. Amen.
(Source: Church of Scotland Diaconate)

Manchester – May 2017


We don’t hide from the cries of the oppressed.
We dare to listen for God there.
We are not afraid of the world’s sorrows.
Their agonies are the seeds of our compassion.
We are not drawn into the violence of cowards.
We are fearless in our love.
We do not need the fortifications of the privileged.
We are unafraid to live in the world.
We are not intimidated.
We entrust ourselves to the Crucified and Risen One.
We are not discouraged on the road
that winds to justice and does not end short.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

A downloadable tri-fold brochure on prayers for Manchester

We Pray in the Wake of the Horror of Violence
God,
Present with us in Christ,
Supporting and guiding us in the Spirit,
Embrace us in your compassion,
Hold us in your truth,
Infuse us with your love,
For the world can be a dark and violent place,
Where what transpires is unfair and wrong,
And where innocents suffer for the agenda of evil.
Calm our fears and worries.
Give us strength of peace.
And the power of hope.
We think of victims and their loved-ones.
Be with all who need solace and comfort in their time of distress.
Work for healing with all who need it.
When we turn our thinking to the perpetrators,
Smack down any self-righteousness within us.
Teach us how to unclench our souls as prejudice and judgement arise within our mindset.
When we start to label people or name people as enemies,
Corrupt our thinking with your grace, love and compassion,
Reminding us of the teaching of Jesus about such people.
May we not let go of our sense of horror at wrongdoing,
Not seek to excuse acts of cruelty or hate,
But transform these in your grace,
So that understanding, forgiveness, and reconciliation become the orders of the day.
May we work with you in this world,
So that the day might come sooner than ever,
Where peace is the priority,
Injustice is resolved in good and right ways,
Where noone dies because of the cause of others,
And that we might live together,
If not in unity, at least with respect and tolerance.
Christ,
May we better learn your way,
And better live it together,
So that the horrors of humanity might end.
This we pray,
Now and always. Amen
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite)

God, whose presence we yearn toward in the stillness
after our shaken, broken voices and the fires of violence fall silent:
we have no words left.
The words others have said:
“horrific”  “worst”  “unspeakable” “impossible”
have been spoken so many times that we can no longer hear them.
Our hearts have broken so often,
we cannot feel.
Our hope has been tried, and, we confess in sorrow,
has been found wanting.
There has been too much terror,
and not enough answers
too many lost lives with too little time to grieve them all
too much violation of the ordinary
and not enough glimpse of the holy to hold us fast.
But you, oh God: beyond our words, beneath our hope:
be the creative breath that orders our chaos
the mercy and justice that compels us to action
the Love that is stronger than death.
We ask you again, for we have nowhere else to turn
Hold us fast, when we cannot hold on any longer.
Walk with us through the valley of the shadow
Turn us away from despair,
that we may not grow weary in well-doing
Beyond our divisions,
bind us together as one family in your kin-dom of mercy and peace.
Amen.
(Source: The Rev. Dr. Laurie A Kraus)
Syria
The heartbreaking aftermath of chemical warfare in Syria (April 2017), followed by targetted bombing by the US, is the background to this reflection by Steve Garnaas-Holmes in Holy Week:

The Empire Feeds
Cold and dark clamp down on us.
The Empire feeds itself,
human bodies as fuel,
boots tracking blood.
Rachel weeping for her children,
we’ve heard it before.
The man with the megaphone doesn’t care.
The emperor has spoken.
Only the most fragile voice
cries out for hope.
The gentle bear it,
weeping in our language.
Always the target,
amid the smoke and carnage,
the fallen stones,
the ruined toddlers,
the Beloved stands,
a little tree –
who planted you here? –
offering fruit to anyone,
blood-red and life giving,
arms outstretched,
quietly crying,
“Fear not; it is I.”
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

WCC condemns terror attacks on churches in Egypt
The World Council of Churches (WCC) condemns the vicious attacks on innocent worshippers celebrating Palm Sunday at St George (Mar Girgis) Coptic church in Tanta and in front of St Mark´s church in Alexandria, Egypt. WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit expresses profound sorrow and offered condolences and prayers for the families of the victims, for the wounded and for all the people of Egypt. He encourages Egyptians to stand firm and united through the many trials and tribulations that continue to threaten. “In the face of this brutality, the human family, all people of faith and of good will, must stand together to recommit to respecting and caring for one another, to protecting one another, and to preventing such violence.” See the full statement here.

As we grieve this tragic loss of life and attack on the Church body, we hold our Coptic brothers and sisters in prayer.
Prayer for the Coptic Church in Egypt
On this Holy Week,
As we journey with Jesus to the cross,
We hold our brothers and sisters in Egypt in prayer.
We pray for the congregations in Alexandria and Tanta,
We pray for Coptic Pope Tawadros II,
and the families of the victims.
May our condolences be a support in their sorrow,
May the passion of Christ be their solidarity
as communities in the process of counting of their losses.
If one part of the Body of Christ is suffering, all members are suffering.
We pray for Coptic communities in Australia,
In the face of this brutality, we speak faith-inspired peace.
Where there are hateful deeds, we pray for good will and actions.
In the world of religious diversity,
We pray for Muslims and Christians, and people of all faiths.
Be unified in the common good of humanity.
May their interfaith dialogue be a pathway towards understanding and respect.
We pray for national leaders to work in collaboration for the people
May they recommit to upholding religious rights.
We also pray for ourselves
In this Holy Week, we look to each other.
Where fear distorts people’s judgement,
Let us step forward and lay our burdens onto the Cross.
Where anger intensifies violence,
Let us put the sword away and proclaim compassion to all.
In this Holy Week, we look deeply into the Passion of Jesus.
Where hopelessness rests in the minds of many
Let us listen to the cry of Jesus.
In the emptiness of his forsakenness,
There rests the source of perpetual truth
– His passion is our path of salvation.
(Source: Rev Dr Ji Zhang, Uniting World)
A prayer for the floods devastating Queensland and New South Wales
(April 2017)
God of all goodness and love,
in whom we can trust in every time of need:
be close to all those who are enduring the devastation and destruction of cyclones and flooding,
those living in fear and distress and anxiety,
and those who have been isolated by floods and need help.
We pray for wisdom and strength for all who seek to help,
and that through this emergency,
people and communities may be drawn more closely together in service to one another.
Amen.
[Adapted from a Prayer by Christian Aid]

We mourn  with France…..(attack in Nice, 14th July 2016)

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A Prayer for All Affected by Paris Shooting
Gracious God,
By the light of faith,
lead us to seek comfort, compassion, and peace,
in the face of escalating violence around the world.
As we read news reports describing the horrifying situations in Paris,
we offer our heartfelt prayers
for those who were injured in today’s shooting;
for the emergency response crews and police officers who are working toward providing security and safety for all;
for the people of Paris who are mourning the death of loved ones.
God of Epiphany,
We humbly offer you our pain, our bafflement, and our cries for peace,
seeking your gift of transformation and your promise of hope.
Amen.
(Source: United Church of Christ)

Anne Lamott: Life has always been this scary here, and we have always been as vulnerable as kittens. Plagues and Visigoths, snakes and schizophrenia; Cain is still killing Abel and nature means that everyone dies. I hate this. It’s too horrible for words. When my son was seven and found out that he and I would not die at the exact same second, he said, crying, “If I had known this, I wouldn’t have agreed to be born.” Don’t you feel like that sometime?
My father’s mother lost a small child in the 1918 flu pandemic. Someone in the family is having a nervous breakdown. A yoga teacher was shot down the road last year by some druggies, while walking on a foot path. A yoga teacher! And then in recent weeks, Orlando, police shooting innocent people, and innocent police officers being shot, and now Nice.
How on Earth do we respond, when we are stunned and scared and overwhelmed, to the point of almost disbelieving?
I wish there was an 800 number we could call to find out, so I could pass this along to my worried Sunday School kids.But no. Yet in the meantime, I know that we MUST respond We must respond with a show of force equal to the violence and tragedies, with love force. Mercy force. Un-negotiated compassion force. Crazy care-giving to the poor and suffering, including ourselves. Patience with a deeply irritating provocative mother. Two dollar bills to the extremely annoying guy at the intersection who you think maybe could be working, or is going to spend your money on beer. Jesus didn’t ask the blind man what he was going to look at after He restored the man’s sight. He just gave hope and sight; He just healed.
To whom can you give hope and sight today. What about to me, and disappointing old you? Radical self-care: healthy food, patience and a friendly tone of voice, lotions on the jiggly things, forgiving pants, lots of sunscreen and snacks. Maybe the random magazine.
Do you have your last computer on the shelf, that you really don’t have time or effort to take to the after-school program in your town–but you are going to do today? Go flirt with the oldest people at the market–tell them you are glad to see them. Voila: Hope and sight.
Remember the guys in the Bible whose friend was paralyzed, but couldn’t get in close to see Jesus preach and heal, so they carried him on a cot, climbed the roof, and lowered him down for the healing? Can a few of you band together–just for today–and carry someone to the healing? To the zen-do? To a meeting? Help a neighbor who is going under, maybe band together to haul their junk to the dump? Shop for sales for a canned food drive at the local temple or mosque? How about three anonymous good deeds?
There is no healing in pretending this bizarre violent stuff is not going on, and that there is some cute bumper sticker silver lining. (It is fine if you believe this, but for the love of God, PLEASE keep it to yourself. it will just tense us all up.) What is true is that the world has always been this way, people have always been this way, grace always bats last, it just does–and finally, when all is said and done, and the dust settles, which it does, Love is sovereign here. (Published on Anne Lamott’s Facebook page)

In the wake of the shooting tragedy in Orlando and attack on LBGTQI community (June 2016) – on the 163rd day of 2016, the 173rd mass shooting of the year in the USA: 
Gracious God, our tears are exhausted. Yet we weep again for the dead and injured. This time in Orlando. How long, O God, must we weep for slaughtered children so numerous that we no longer remember a time when we didn’t weep? Embrace us who mourn as we wipe our tears on your soaked shoulder. Shine your light on those whose only companions are fear and anger. As we step from this sanctuary give us the strength to live out the justice that is your desire. We turn our eyes to your mercy in this time of confusion and mounting loss. God in your mercy, …
(from a Facebook post by Steven Chapman)

As we hold in prayer the now 50+ lives that were taken in the tragic shooting in Orlando, and those who loved them, we remember the ways in which our society and our church encourage violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people, especially those who are also people of color. We pray to God for an end to violence against all who are marginalized and we remember that the same God we pray to is also the one who calls each of us to be involved in the work of creating a more just church and world. May the words lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer be spoken this morning in every pulpit and may every pastor preach what is true: they are beloved people of God. (Facebook post, Reconciling Ministries Network)

Let speeches fall silent – a hymn after the Orlando massacre.
This hymn may be freely used through July 31, 2016.
Music – click here for two options.

Let speeches fall silent and platitudes cease
from hawkers of violence they brand as “peace.”
Let people who suffer find places to speak,
and holders of power give way to the weak.

Let teachers of hatred, suspicion, and fear,
and those who would kill for the views they hold dear,
be turned from their ways and disarmed of their wrath
to walk on a new, more compassionate path.

Forgive us the times we neglected to act;
forgive our excuses for courage we lacked.
God, teach us the wisdom that leads us to grace:
your image is found in our enemy’s face.

Adam M. L. Tice, June 15, 2016
©2016 GIA Publications, Inc.

And this new hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, in response to the Orlando tragedy

To a Place of Celebration
EBENEZER 8.7.8.7 D (“Why Do Nations Rage Together”)

To a place of celebration filled with laughter, dancing, joy,
Came such violent devastation— one man’s efforts to destroy.
God, we grieve for loved ones taken; we lament, “What can we do?”
Now, we’re feeling lost and shaken; heal our nation! Make us new!

Weapons kill— and so does silence; hear our prayer as we confess:
We have given in to violence, we have bowed to hopelessness.
God, we’ve lost our sense of vision of a world where there will be
Plowshares made from violent weapons, justice in society.

Give our leaders strength for action, give them minds to mend our flaws,
Give them courage and compassion and the will to change our laws.
May we work for legislation that will curb guns’ awful toll.
God, renew our dedication to a world that’s just and whole.

Give us love to change our vision; give us love to cast out fear.
Give us love to speak with wisdom— love to work for justice here.
Give us love to welcome difference— love no hatred can destroy.
Only love can stop the violence; only love will bring back joy.

Biblical References: Isaiah 4:2; 1 John 4:18; James 3:1-12; Micah 6:8; Matthew 25:35
Tune: Thomas John Williams, 1890.
Alternative Tune: BEACH SPRING
Text: Copyright © 2016 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com

See sheet music here.

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Natalie Sims has created a page on Singing from the Lectionary, with songs to lament the deaths in Orlando, and to gather songs that celebrate and seek the inclusion of LGBTQI people in the church. Thanks, Nat!

This one by John Bell, There is a Place, written after Dunblane tragedy but seems appropriate for Orlando.

There is a place prepared for little children
Those we once lived for, those we deeply mourn,
Those who from play, from learning and from laughter
Cruelly were torn.

There is a place where hands which held ours tightly
Now are released beyond all hurt and fear
Healed by that love which also feels our sorrow
Tear after tear.

There is a place where all the lost potential
Yields its full promise, finds its lost intent;
Silenced no more, young voices echo freely
As they were meant.

There is a place where God will hear our questions,
Suffer our anger, share our speechless grief.
Gently repair the innocence of loving
And of belief.

Jesus, who bids us to be like little children
Shields those our arms are yearning to embrace,
God will ensure that all are reunited;
There is a place.

Praying with Psalm 42
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.

We cry out with those who long for justice,
who long to know your mercy and your comfort,
who yearn for a place of safety and belonging.

My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”

We hollow out a space in our hearts for those
who are wounded by our words, our actions and inaction.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?

We mourn in solidarity and cry out in anger
with those who suffer persecution and bigotry.

By day the Lord commands steadfast love,
and at night God’s song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

We give thanks for your love that prevails,
that lives on in the hearts of the faithful,
and we repent of our closed and stony hearts.

I say to God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because the enemy oppresses me?”

We acknowledge the gifts of those who are oppressed,
the beauty we have cast away from us.

Hope in God; for I shall again praise the Holy One,
my help and my God.

You give us the faith do justice;
you give us hope in your grace;
you give us love that we may love
on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Steve Garnaas-Holmes)

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A Wellsprings liturgy – Words from Dark Spaces (can be adapted as a service in response to tragedies and natural disasters).

Prayers for those killed and injured in the attacked in Lahore, Pakistan.
Article, Where we Mourn by Dilshad Ali.

A sermon, The World Is Crowded With Gethsemanes. 
The World Is Crowded With Gethsemanes

A call to worship (in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston marathon bombs)
by Rev. Mantu Joshi
We come this morning, hoping for healing and rest.
Healing can be hard when the world seems harsh and cruel.
We come seeking peace after the blast, even among the shrapnel of images imbedded in our collective minds.
Peace can be hard when the world roars in chaos and pain.
We come to a God who knows what it is to have nails in flesh and bone.
We come to a God who knows our pain.
We come to you, O God, because you know how to change death into life
and chaos into beauty.
Anoint this hour with your peace as we worship in your name.

Prayer for Brussels: God of Peace, Where are You?

Here’s a prayerful reflection in the wake of yesterday’s terrorist attacks on the city of Brussels. 

God of Peace, Where Are You?
We ask this question as we watch what humans do.
We harm, destroy, and fight.
We look at each other with jealousy and spite
and yet we ask where you are
isn’t that bizarre?

Every day it seems thousands die in a war zone
and I just flick through the images like nothing on my phone.
The news says, “Hundreds of Refugees Sink”
and anymore I barely stop to think.
Yesterday, it was an attack on the Belgium nation
as bombs exploded in the Zaventem airport & the Maelbeek station.
Screams, shouts, fear, and dread
this is the scene of which I have read.
Toddlers’ squeal while their mother died
How can we claim to call ourselves civilized?

It isn’t God that is not there
I fear it is us that have forgotten to care.
It almost seems like we are jaded by these tragedies,
too much loss and too many casualties.
We say “another bomb”, “another school shooting”
“oh look there is a city with racial violence and looting.”
I fear we as a world have turned off our tears
and replaced them with ignorance and fears.

No longer do we stop and pray;
hoping to be inspired to another way.
Instead it is “I will offer up a prayer at some other time
because look the grocery store has oranges at 1.49.”
I worry for myself that I am becoming jaded
that my global compassion has faded.
Has something broken inside my psyche or soul
replaced with a cynical black hole?
Maybe that is more to my point
I feel like after a crisis we should feel a sense of disjoint.
For in each of these massacres
an impasse occurs
The World should be at a standstill, a moment of pain.
Where only silence may reign.
There is a part of humanity that dies
while the victims offer their final cries.

So what can I say?
The truth is there are no human words to address this disaster
only the heavenly message of Hope and Love.
The truth of the peace that comes with the Dove.
Only God can speak
for humanity is just too weak.
We are broken and lost.

But into these moments God speaks Easter and Pentecost.
God says remember “This is not the end
on me your world can depend.
I have watched your revolutions and world wars
seen your armies and your corps.
Been at battlefields in Rome, India, and Babylon
seen the world offer weaponry and brawn.
It is true I have been present at hangings and beheadings
but I have also been there at births and at weddings.
Stood with Friedensengel and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.
Whispered in emperor’s ears to not be so territorial.
I cannot stop everything because of your free will
but do not think I am silent or still.
I was there in that airport wrapping the dying in grace.
You, humanity, may look away but for me that is not the case.
I am there in your terror, in your wars, in your worst
under the cover of gunfire, I have nursed.

I challenge you, humanity,
in the midst of such horror and insanity
to not get caught up in political outspokenness
but live in the pain of the brokenness.
Do not distance yourselves just because it doesn’t make sense
Work on sharing kindness and openness not building a fence
Emotional walls are the worst kind
for all you protect is your mind.
To be a real change you must face the hurt
do not let your sense of fear make your eyes avert.
Know that there is hope somewhere, sometime
because Love can and will speak even in Wartime.”

~ written by Pastor Shannon Diana Keeney, First United Methodist Church – Littleton, NH. http://www.fumclittleton.org/

prayer circle

A small prayer circle forms near where police responded to the shooting

“The type of healing we need can only be borne out of lament — a lament that holds space in the deepest pits of our beings for the piercing sorrow and rage being expressed by black communities, cultivates empathy, and puts restorative justice at the center of our collective action.” (Sojo)

Sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber, The Martyrs of Charleston and the power of Christ crucified and risen

A hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette for Charleston:
They Met to Read the Bible

ST. CHRISTOPHER 7.6.8.6.8.6.8.6 (“Beneath the Cross of Jesus”)

They met to read the Bible, they gathered for a prayer,
They worshiped God and shared with friends
and welcomed strangers there.
They went to church to speak of love,
To celebrate God’s grace.
O Lord, we tremble when we hear
What happened in that place.

O God of love and justice, we thank you for the nine.
They served in their communities
and made the world more kind.
They preached and sang and coached and taught,
And cared for children, too.
They blessed your church and blessed your world
With gifts they used for you.

We grieve a wounded culture
Where fear and terror thrive,
Where some hate others for their race
And guns are glorified.
We grieve for sons and daughters lost,
For grandmas who are gone.
O God, we cry with broken hearts:
This can’t continue on!

God, may we keep on sowing
the seeds of justice here,
Till guns are silent, people sing,
and hope replaces fear.
May seeds of understanding grow
And flourish all our days.
May justice, love and mercy be
The banner that we raise.

Tune: Frederick Charles Maker, 1881
Text: Copyright © 2015 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com
Permission is given for free use by local churches and in ecumenical services.

When aimless violence takes those we love
Tune: 10.10.10.10/ Sursum Corda

1 When aimless violence takes those we love,
When random death strikes childhood’s promise down,
When wrenching loss becomes our daily bread,
We know, O God, You leave us not alone.

2 When passing years rob sight and strength and mind
Yet fail to still a strongly beating heart,
And grief becomes the fabric of our days,
Dear Lord, You do not stand from us apart.

3 Our faith may flicker low, and hope grow dim,
Yet You, O God, are with us in our pain;
You grieve with us and for us day by day,
And with us, sharing sorrow, will remain.

4 Because Your Son knew agony and loss,
Felt desolation, grief and scorn and shame,
We know You will be with us, come what may,
Your loving presence near, always the same.

5 Through long, grief-darkened days help us, dear Lord,
To trust Your grace for courage to endure,
To rest our souls in Your supporting love,
And find our hope within Your mercy sure.
Joy F Patterson

A call to worship for the tragedy at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston
We stand before you today, oh Lord
Hearts broken, eyes weeping, heads spinning
Our brothers and sisters have died
They gathered and prayed and then were no more
The prayer soaked walls of the church are spattered with blood
The enemy at the table turned on them in violence
While they were turning to you in prayer
We stand with our sisters
We stand with our brothers
We stand with their families
We stand to bear their burden in Jesus’ name

We cry out to you, oh Lord
Our hearts breaking, eyes weeping, heads spinning
The violence in our streets has come into your house
The hatred in our cities has crept into your sanctuary
The brokenness in our lives has broken into your temple
The dividing wall of hostility has crushed our brothers and sisters
We cry out to you, May your Kingdom come, may it be on earth as it is in heaven
We cry out for our sisters
We cry out for our brothers
We cry out for their families
We cry out for peace in Jesus’ name

We pray to you today, oh Lord
Our hearts breaking, eyes weeping, souls stirring
We pray for our enemies, we pray for those who persecute us
We pray to the God of all Comfort to comfort our brothers and sisters in their mourning
We pray that you would bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes
We pray that you would give them the oil of joy instead of mourning
We pray that you would give them a garment of praise in place of a spirit of despair
We pray for our sisters
We pray for our brothers
We pray for their families
We pray for their comfort in Jesus’ name

We declare together, oh Lord
With hearts breaking, eyes weeping and souls stirring
We will continue to stand and cry and weep with our brothers and sisters
We will continue to make a place of peace for even the enemies at our table
We will continue to open our doors and our hearts to those who enter them
We will continue to seek to forgive as we have been forgiven
We will continue to love in Jesus’ name because you taught us that love conquers all
We declare our love for you, our Sisters
We declare our love for you, our Brothers
We declare our love for you, their families
We declare our love as one body, one Lord, one faith, one baptism
We declare they do not grieve alone today

Source: One Church Liturgy

AME*************************************************************************************

Mindful of the floods in Manila and earthquakes in Iran in August 2012, and so many other natural disasters that devastate communities:

Most merciful God
in the midst of natural disaster
we look to you in hope and trust,
acknowledging that there is much in life
beyond our present understanding.
Accept our compassion for the suffering;
bless those who are working for their relief;
and show us what we can do to share in their task,
as servants of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Morning, Noon and Night, from New Parish Prayers, Ed. Frank Colquhoun, Hodder and Stoughton, London, Sydney, Auckland. 1999.

All things look to you, O Lord,
to give them their food in due season.
Look in mercy on your people,
and hear our prayer for those whose lives and possessions have been destroyed by the raging waters.
In your mercy, restore your creation and heal the land.
So guide and bless all your people,
that all may enjoy the fruit of the earth
and give you thanks with grateful hearts,
through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Adapted from Occasional Prayer No. 12, A Prayer Book for Australia.

O God, we are stunned.
We cannot take it in.
It seems unreal and yet too real.
Bear with us in the pain of what has happened
and give us the healing of wounds that now run deep.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Adapted from Funeral Services of the Christian Churches in England, Canterbury Press, Norwich, 2002.

God of compassion,
You created a world for us
to know your love and peace.
Yet amidst the beauty of creation we encounter pain and hurt
and forces beyond our control.
At times like this our hearts are shaken and ache with sorrow
at the destruction of lives, homes and livelihoods.
Hear our prayers for those affected
by the floods and for all those working
to bring relief and fresh hope. Amen.
prayer: locally adapted from an original by wellsprings.co.uk

Liturgy (can be adapted to suit the context for disasters)

Prayer and Reflection to remember those whose lives have been devastated by (type of disaster and place)

CALL TO PRAYER
I pray to you, Lord! Please listen.
Don’t hide from me in my time of trouble
Pray attention to my prayer and quickly give an answer.

The Lord be with you
And also with you.

Let us pray (silence)

We come to you O God, in shock and grief, with our hearts full of sorrow
for the suffering of our sisters and brothers.
Comfort us, we pray,
and stay close to all who are working with the survivors of these tragedies
to find the lost, to care for the living,
and build new hope from the ruins.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. All: Amen.

Psalm: 90

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations,
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You turn us back to dust,
and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”
Turn, O Lord! How long?
Have compassion on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us, and as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be manifest to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands. O prosper the work of our hands!

EITHER of the following songs, A Trusting Psalm OR When Human Voices Cannot Sing could be placed here.

Song: A Trusting Psalm K. Bates

Refrain:
Lord, let your mercy be on us
As we place our trust in you.

The word of the Lord is faithfulness and love.
His love can never be measured.
His beauty is like nothing we have ever seen,
So let us place our trust in him.

The word of the Lord means a patient, gentle God.
His love can never grow weary.
His mercy is as though our sins have never been,
If we can place our trust in him.

The word of the Lord is fire burning strong.
His love can never grow weary.
He will seek and save the lost until we all return,
So let us place our trust in him.
©1989, Kevin Bates. Copyright agent: Willow Connection Pty Ltd. Used with permission. Word of Life International License No. 1550.

Song: When Human Voices Cannot Sing

  1. When human voices cannot sing
    and human hearts are breaking,
    we bring our grief to you, O God
    who knows our inner aching.
  2. Set free our spirits from all fear –
    the cloud of dark unknowing,
    and let the light, the Christ-light show
    the pathway of our going.
  3. Make real for us your holding love,
    the love which is your meaning,
    the power to move the stone of death,
    the hope of Easter morning.Words: Shirley Erena Murray. Words© 1992 by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, II.60188. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Word of Life International License No. 1550.CELEBRATION OF THE WORD

Reading

A reading from the Book of Genesis

God said to Noah and to his sons with him,
“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you
and your descendants after you,
and with every living creature that is with you;
the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you,
as many as came out of the ark.
I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh
be cut off by the waters of a flood,
and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
God said,
“This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you
and every living creature that is with you, for all generations:
I have set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign
of the covenant between me and the earth.
When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh;
and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.
When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the
Earth should change, though the mountains shake
in the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.

The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
He utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the Lord;
See what desolations he has brought on the earth;
He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
He burns the shields with fire.

Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations. I am exalted in the earth
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Gospel: A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (4:35-41)

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them,
“Let us go across to the other side.”
And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat,
just as he was.
Other boats were with him.
A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat so that the boat
was already being swamped.
But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion;
And they woke him up and said to him
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea,
“Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?
And they were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this, That even the wind and the sea obey him?”

The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Reflection

Silence

Litany of Petitions

God the Father,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy and blessed Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

In these days of shock and mourning
Have mercy on us.
In the pain of lost life and shattered hopes,
Have mercy on us.
In our grieving for those who have died,
Have mercy on us.
In our compassion for all who are bereaved,
Have mercy on us.
For the rescue workers and medical teams treating the injured,
Lord hear our prayer.
For people searching for those who have not been accounted for,
Lord hear our prayer.
For the leaders of our state and nation, offering sympathy, support and aid,
Lord hear our prayer.
For emergency services and their workers responding with practical care,
Lord hear our prayer.
For a generous response to appeals for support,
Lord hear our prayer.
For those who have friends and family in the disaster areas,
Lord hear our prayer.
For the survivors who are left alone and bereaved of their loved ones,
Lord hear our prayer.
For communities that have lost their homes and livelihoods,
Lord hear our prayer.
For wisdom in planning the future for devastated communities,
Lord hear our prayer.
For solidarity with the suffering of the dispossessed,
Lord hear our prayer.
For the people of (name the places of concern)
Lord hear our prayer.
For the victims of drought, flood, fire or earthquake, everywhere on earth,
Lord hear our prayer.
For Christ to bring all the peoples of the world into one flock with one shepherd,
Lord hear our prayer
For Christ to bring healing and comfort for those we love who are sick or in mourning,
Lord hear our prayer.
For Christ to bring us with all who have died in faith to a joyful resurrection,
Lord hear our prayer.

N.B. A significant time of silence is suggested at this time.

Lord’s Prayer

And now as Christ our Saviour has taught us, we are confident to pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
And deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
Now and for ever. Amen.

EITHER of the following songs, Comfort, Comfort All My People OR Eye Has Not Seen could be placed here.

Song: Comfort, Comfort All My People R.Mann

Refrain:
Comfort, comfort all my people
with the comfort of my Word.
Speak it tender to my people:
All your sins are taken away.

1. Though your tears be rivers running,
though your tears be an ocean full,
though you cry with the hurt of living:
comfort, comfort.

Every valley shall be lifted,
every mountain shall be low,
every rough place will be smoother:
comfort, comfort.

Refrain:

2. Though your eyes see only darkness,
though your eyes can see no light,
though your eyes see pain and sorrow:
comfort, comfort.

Every night will have its morning,
every pain will have an end,
every burden will be lightened:
comfort, comfort.

Refrain:

Words and music © R. Mann. All rights reserved. Used by permission. 

Song: Eye Has Not Seen Marty Haugen

Refrain:
Eye has not seen, ear has not heard
what God has ready for those who love him;
Spirit of love, come, give us the mind of Jesus,
teach us the wisdom of God.

  1. When pain and sorrow weigh us down,
    be near to us, O Lord,
    forgive the weakness of our faith,
    and bear us up within your peaceful word.
  2. Our lives are but a single breath,
    we flower and we fade,
    yet all our days are in your hands
    so we return in love what love has made.
  3. To those who see with eyes of faith,
    the Lord is ever near,
    reflected in the faces of all the poor
    and lowly of the world.
  4. We sing a myst’ry from the past
    in halls where saints have trod,
    yet ever new the music rings to
    Jesus, Living Song of God.

Text: 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, Marty Haugen, b. 1950. © 1982, GIA Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

CLOSING PRAYER

Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present,
nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Consoling God, source of all comfort,
Lift the burden of despair and grief from those who suffer.
Enkindle in us the hope of your Spirit.
Show us how you want us to live and give us the courage
and the goodness to reach out to others in their distress.
Do not abandon your people in their time of need.
We ask this in the name of the One who knew suffering and loss,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessing and Dismissal

May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
May he look upon you with kindness, and give you his peace.
And may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be with you and all those you love;
this day and forever more. Amen

Song: Prayer for Peace D.Hass

  1. Peace before us, peace behind us,
    Peace under our feet.
    Peace within us, peace over us,
    Let all around us be peace.
  2. Love before us, love behind us,
    Love under our feet.
    Love within us, love over us,
    Let all around us be love.
  3. Light before us, light behind us,
    Light under our feet.
    Light within us, light over us,
    Let all around us be light.
  4. Christ before us, Christ behind us,
    Christ under our feet.
    Christ within us, Christ over us,
    Let all around us be Christ.
  5. Peace before us, peace behind us,
    Peace under our feet.
    Peace within us, peace over us,
    Let all around us be peace.
    Let all around us be peace.
    ©1987, GIA Publications, Inc.
    All rights reserved. Used with permission. Word of Life International

N.B. Hymnals: When Human Voices Cannot Sing and Comfort Comfort All My People (Together In Song). A Trusting Psalm and Eye Has Not Seen (Gather Australia and As One Voice I). Prayer for Peace (As One Voice I).

Silence: Ensure that pronounced times of silence are made after psalms, readings and reflection.

Liturgy prepared by combined Anglican, Lutheran, Uniting and Roman Catholic Churches of Toowoomba Qld. Adapted by Diocesan Liturgical Commission, Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba, Qld.

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.

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