resources in times of natural disaster/tragedy

These prayers are in chronological order of events rather than thematic so scroll down to relevant events with related prayers. On 1st March 2022 prayers for the floods in Queensland and New South Wales have been added. Prayers for Ukraine here.

For the loss of lives in the plane crash in China
God, whose sheltering wings
are only love, and who cares
for falling of sparrows, we pray
for one hundred twenty-three passengers,
and nine crew members, lost
on their flight from Kunming
somewhere over Wuzhou
on the journey to Guanzhou.
We honor these many lives,
and all they have given,
and mourn the possibilities
of their tomorrows,
and we pray comfort for families,
mothers, fathers, children,
brothers and sisters,
and strength for emergency crews
going into the mountains
for search and rescue.
The sorrow of sky and mountain,
the burning of bamboo forest,
the loss of every dream,
and the breaking of every heart,
we lift in grief. Amen
(Source: Maren Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

This prayer was originally written for the 189 people who lost their lives on a Lion Air plane and adapted for the plane crash in China in March 2022. 
O everlasting God, giver of life,
we come before you in sorrow and prayers.
Today we pray for the victims in the China Airlines crash.
We hear the cries of orphaned children and bereaved parents
We feel the pain of partners and family members
We behold all of them in our prayers.
Let our prayers rise to you: hear our prayer.
O compassionate God, giver of love,
At the time like this,
You are the refuge and strength to those who suffer.
We come to seek you healing upon all your children.
We search for wholeness in the midst of brokenness.
We cry for healing among their families and communities.
Let our prayers rise to you: hear our prayer.
O the suffering God, giver of strength,
In the sorrow beyond words,
We remember the death of your son Jesus Christ.
Make the weak strong, the broken whole,
turn our sorrow into solidarity,
We behold all their friends impacted by the unimaginable loss.
Let our prayers rise to you: hear our prayer.
O God of mercy, giver of forgiveness
At this time of emptiness,
teach us – let it be empty.
Watch our ways, protect us from evils,
Fill our emptiness with your goodness,
We behold others with your care and forgiveness.
Let our prayers rise to you: hear our prayer.
O God the resurrection, giver of new life,
At this time and space,
We come before you as fellow citizens of hope.
Grant your mercy to people around us,
Grant relief to airplane staff and government officers,
We behold them before you for healing.
Let our prayers rise to you: hear our prayer.
O God of calling, receiver of all lives,
We offer our prayers for the returning souls,
Bring them into your light
Protect them with your heavenly hosts.
We behold them with your promise,
through Jesus Christ who was dead,
but lives and rules this world with you. Amen.
(Source: Rev Dr Ji Zhang, Uniting Church Assembly Theologian-in-Residence, adapted)

A prayer in response to violence
O God of deep compassion and abounding mercy, in whose trust is our perfect peace: Draw near to us in this time of anguish, anxiety and anger, receive the dead into your eternal care, comfort those who mourn, strengthen those who are wounded or in despair, turn our anger into the conviction to act, channel our passion to end our dependence on violence for our sense of security, and lead us all to greater trust in you and in your image found in the entire human family. Through Jesus the Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns among us eternally. Amen.
(Source: Rev Michael W Hopkins, adapted)

Floods in AustraliaFeb/March 2022

Story from Lismore here related to photo above

(Qld and NSW have reported massive rainfall – more than 700mm and up to 1000 mm of rainfall in just 30 hours. And it’s still raining….)

“God we pray for Australia in the grip of these torrential rains and floods. Keep people safe. Give them hope and strength. Give officials wisdom to make right decisions in handling the disaster. Lord, we know that you send rain for the good of the land. But we ask that you would temper the tide in Australia. Calm the storms. Gentle the rain. We pray that out of this individuals and the nation as a whole would come closer to you. In Jesus name we pray…” (prayer after the 2011 Brisbane floods)

Words for this moment…
POEM: Displaced.
It’s been raining for as long as this goldfish can remember
And the forecast shows no sign of change
And I am tempted to complain
about the moat forming around my castle,
But then,
I think of floodwaters
Rising to meet eaves
And the displaced ones
Scattered through churning streets
My mind
Jumps borders
Envisages explosions
Tries to reckon with invasion
The places where displacement
Is not by nature, but by design
The gridlocked chess match
Of expensive weaponry and fragile egos
History is a finger painting of innocent blood
On repeat
Much closer to home
I think of the friends who cannot sleep
Battling invisible mental beasts
They text me to pray for them
I pray Psalm 23 for us all,
For the whole flooded, bloody mess of it
Are there green pastures and quiet streams,
Amidst all the dark valleys and enemy tables?
Sometimes I lose sight of the shepherd
As it all swirls through my mind
To the sound of constant rain,
I am hyper aware of the shelter
I have from the storms
I am sheltered — physically and emotionally
And there is no entitlement in it
No deserving of it
The things I am most grateful for
Feel like subtle reminders of injustice
And I don’t know how to do anything else,
Except cry out for the shepherd:
Don’t hide now.
(Source: Will Hall, Facebook post, March 2022)

Ever present God,
You are with us in this hour of need.
You hold all those affected by the floods in your love.
We pray for those who have evacuated.
For those who have lost their homes and whose homes are under threat.
Encourage us to be a people who respond to those in need in God’s name with compassion and practice care.
Help us to help them.
We pray for our most vulnerable often living on riverbanks
and for all those who are offering them shelter and care.
We pray for those whose livelihoods have been affected.
Shops inundated, livestock lost and those caring for our native animals.
We give thanks for those running the emergency evacuation centres, the Red Cross, disaster chaplains. Be with them, support them as they work with the distressed, and those facing uncertainty about what this flood means for them.
We know that you are One who suffers with us
and offers comfort and guidance by being present with your people.
We pray for you wisdom moving forward.
We know your mercy and that you will hear our prayer,
In Jesus name. Amen
(Source: Rev. Ann Hosking Perrin)

God of all comfort and compassion,
We pray for those who are being or have been devastated by flood and rain.
We know that while the rain has come as a blessing to some,
particularly those in our outback areas,
for those whose properties are inundated or lives that have been threatened,
we pray for your protection and mercy.
Strengthen those who are isolated,
Who lay sleeplessly at night concerned for their own
and their neighbour’s safety.
Keep at bay the spread of disease
and show mercy and give strength
to our emergency services and SES volunteers.
Protect those who are trapped in floodwaters,
particularly those who are visitors to our region
and have no home in which to find comfort.
May our response to the suffering of others be generous and bring you praise.
For we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
(Source: Rev. Garry Hardingham)

Loving God, in the midst of what nature brings us, we thank you for the deep wells of community life; we pray that people will be kept safe; that property damage be minimal, that we might support and help one another through these challenging days. Be with the people of Townsville and district we pray.
(Source: Rev David Baker,  Synod of Queensland)

God who walks across the water,
reach out your hand
to the people of Queensland and New South Wales,
where the rains continue,
roads are flooded,
dams broken, rivers swollen,
families evacuated from their homes,
where rescue workers are at risk.
Reach out your hand, O God,
that makes in those who fear to sink
new Peters –
finding themselves lifted
to help a neighbour,
to share food, seek shelter,
care for COVID protocols.
And bless, O Holy One,
the ministry of disaster recovery chaplains*
in the days of rain to come. Amen.
(Source: Maren Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands, 21 March 2021, adapted)
Disaster recovery chaplaincy is an ecumenical network of chaplains established to assist people who have been affected by disasters and major emergencies within their communities.


Tongan Mt Semeru volcano January 2022
God, Giver of calm in all turmoil,
we pray for those under ash, steam and gas clouds,
and those who feared or experienced
tsunami this weekend, in the wake of
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai’s eruptions.
We pray for Tonga’s Fonuafo’ou island
nearest to the eruptions,
and Tongatapu Island,
most severely struck by tsunami,
for the capital Nuku’alofa,
where boats and boulders washed ashore,
damaging waterfront and main street,
cutting communications,
contaminating air and water,
as residents fled.
We pray for those in Pago Pago,
American Samoa,
for evacuees in Fiji, especially Suva,
for the nation of Samoa
and for Aotearoa/New Zealand,
braced for impact and sending support.
We pray for Vanatu, Japan,
Alaska, British Columbia, Australia,
California, and the Hawai’ian islands,
all impacted by the high waves.
You, who are remembered,
often in easily said words, as
speaking from fire on the mountains,
shaping the depth of the seas,
walking on the waves,
come in the core of your truth
to ease fear and comfort all,
for you are recognized by us all
in the compassion of a global family,
(Source: Maren Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Praying in the face of a Tsunami (Tonga, January 2020)
The power of the waves crashing is nothing to the sucking into the deep.
We watch in fear and awe at satellite images and broken messages.
Hear our cry, O Lord.
Hear the pleading of our desperate voices and the longings of our hearts.
Please give us good news.
Please restore families and friends.
We ask that resources might make their way quickly to where they are most needed.
We ask for targeted aid to reach those who can best use it.
We pray about water and food and medicines.
We pray for rescuers, medical teams and emergency workers.
We pray for children and parents and grandparents.
We pray for widows and orphans.
In the face of tragedy and disaster, it is hard to make lists, o lord.
So, we ask your spirit to guide our words and thoughts.
Stir compassion and imagination, as we seek our best loving response.
O God, make haste to save communities in shock.
Enlarge our hearts, so we can respond with you.
(Source: Rev Dr Amelia Koh-Butler)

Creator God,
We pray for the pacific Islands effected by the volcanic eruption and tsunami.
God Bless Tongan people at this time. We pray the vital aid be able to reach Tonga quickly.
We uphold the leaders of this nation at this time asking God to grant them wisdom and understanding to make the urgent decisions to lead their people.
We pray for the environment to heal itself, grant gentle life-giving rain and sunshine to allow restoration.
We pray for Feke Kamitoni as Chair of the UCA Tongan Conference bless him with strength to guide the UCA Tongan community in the weeks and months ahead.
We pray for all UCA Tongan ministers and lay people in our congregations that they experience the love of God, as they wait for the news of family members.
(Facebook post by Linley Liersch, Regenerating the Church, Port Phillip West Presbytery)

Remembering the catastrophic bushfires in Australia (& other places)
We remember…
Cinders and sadness abounded last year.
In agony, creation fought to survive, and communities were decimated.
We remember the loss of fauna, flora, farms and families.
O God, we heard the cries. We felt the heartache. We saw the tears.
We saw the courage, response and resourcefulness of communities.
We who have so much offered and assisted, but we could not prevent or postpone
the living pain, the terror and dying from the destructive roar.
We have lived with the ongoing loss and groaning
of all what was, and is, and will continue to be, grieving with this reality.
We remember….
A silence is kept
Creator God,
Today we call to you in one voice.
Together, we celebrate our Earth.
We delight in all its diverse ecosystems.
We are awed by the variety of fauna and flora.
We are inspired by its wisdom and capacity to regenerate.
Generous One,
We are sorry that as your people, part of this great creation,
that our greed and sense of power has wreaked havoc on this splendour.
Our shame is too often set aside in bluster or denial.
Our anger is too often expressed in blame.
We too often do not take responsibility,
not wishing to put effort into relationship with the earth and consideration of the ‘other’.
We are sorrier than we can say. Forgive us.
In trust, with love, you call us to you,
And encourage us to act and see in a new way.
For you forgive us, and re-direct us to take our place in the midst of this wondrous creation.
Restoration and renewal draw us forward
to seek the right way of living, being just and acting with humility.
We listen and learn together, calling on our strength as God’s people to collaborate,
with consideration of all of creation and our small part with in it.
May our footprint be the size that fits in this wondrous earth,
sustaining, supporting and sensitively responding,
together with the Earth. Amen

Disaster and Recovery Ministries is an Ecumenical Ministry in South Australia, providing pastoral care for communities who are recovering from disaster, whether natural or those of human origin. Check out more about this Ministry here.

Prayer for Kabul
God, we pray for the parents
grieving their student children,
shot and killed –
nineteen yesterday
at Kabul University
and twenty-four last week
at an education center.
We pray for the wounded
and those who care for them.
We pray for the friends
and the neighbors,
for those they have not yet married,
for children unborn,
for Afghani people
filled with ongoing fears,
and many students who will stay home
and let go of their education,
and we grieve for ourselves
bereft of gifts
that these young people
would have given the world. Amen.
(Source: Maren Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Bushfires in California August 2020 (scroll down for various prayers)

Bushfire Beatitude for East Gippsland
This blessing was written by Presbytery of Gippsland Minister Rev Jennie Gordon in between shifts working at a firezone relief centre in Bairnsdale. We share it for all affected by the bushfire crisis.
blessed are you ‐ East Gippsland
blessed are you
who walk the scorching beaches
and shelter in the ocean
brushing burning embers
God beside you
blessed are you
who weep with grief and sorrow and bear an ashen image
of a life of green and growing
God beside you
blessed are you
who face the firestorm’s fury
and volunteer for danger
companions in the battle
God beside you
blessed are you
who work to bring together
the rallied deeds of angels
and shape a place of respite
God beside you
blessed are you
who set a bowl of water
in the wilderness of burning
to care for little creatures
God beside you
blessed are you
who wait with calm and coping
engage in patient listening approach
with wine and welcome
cook for crowds of strangers
clothe and house your neighbours
pray for rest and rainfall
God beside you
(Source: Rev Jennie Gordon, 2020)

Beirut tragedy
On Tuesday 4th of August 2020 an explosion shook Beirut and all of Lebanon. The tremor of the explosion was felt in Cyprus, some 240Km away. Everything within a 10 Km radius was damaged, houses, buildings, shops, cars, etc. The explosion was a chemical one and what followed was a toxic pollution of the air. Churches, mosques, schools, hospitals in addition to homes and shops in the area were all destroyed. The affected area is home almost 1 million people, in one of the denser population areas in Lebanon. Over 135 people have been killed and over 5,000 people injured. This is not counting the people who have not yet been found.

Beirut tragedy August 2020
Holy One of mercy and peace,
as you walked across the stormy sea
so long ago, walk in the rubble
of your great city Beirut.
Hold tenderly all who mourn today
loved ones who have died
and those who are waiting
for identifications,
and for those who are missing
to be found.
Be among those who care
for the wounded,
and those who try to cope
with this catastrophe
in the midst of the struggle
ongoing with covid-19.
In the chaos of broken buildings
and the aftermath
of the terrible rain of glass,
give moments of hope,
the welcome kindness of neighbors
and the generosity of the world.
To the re-construction
of the city itself, bring courage
and to the equally long
of the confidence of people
so de-stabilized, bring peace,
for we pray,
in all your holy names. Amen.
(Source: Maren Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Prayer for Beirut
God of darkness and light,
Beirut waits in darkness longing for your light.
In the centre of darkness, rekindle hope.
As we pray for families to be reunited,
Let your Spirit be with us.
As we pray for the injured to be healed,
Let your Spirit be with us.
As we pray for those who have lost loved ones,
Let your Spirit be with us.
As we pray for homes to be rebuilt,
Let your Spirit be with us.
God of creation,
You create the Cedars of Lebanon and give them their majesty to withstand all tribulations for your own pleasure. You exalt them to represent eternity, strength, and endurance. Yet we have cut them down and destroyed them for our own personal pleasures. As we remember the Cedars of Lebanon, we also remember the people of Lebanon in their diversity of cultures and faith.
We pray for your healing where there is injury,
We pray for your comfort where there is death,
We pray for your hope where there is despair,
We pray for your light where there is darkness,
We pray for your joy where there is sadness and
We pray for your love where this hatred.
God of Love,
Welcome into your arms the victims of the explosion in Beirut:
Those who have lost their homes, those who have been injured and those who have lost loved ones.
Comfort their families and all who grieve for them.
God of explosions and pollution,
Out of the depths we call to you; in the face of incomprehensible anguish and sorrow, we lift the cries of our distress and implore you to show mercy upon those who are suffering from the destruction of the explosion in Beirut and the ensuing chemical pollution. Give protection and wisdom to emergency service personnel, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and all those who assist in elevating the pain and suffering of those affected. Encourage our generosity to those who suffer loss. In your mercy restore your creation and heal our land.
We pray for those who have been injured in body, mind or spirit and ask you to heal them;
We pray
for those who are left homeless and wandering,
for those who breath the toxic air,
for those who are devastated,
and for families torn asunder and ask you to shelter them,
Strengthen the hands and hearts of those who assist in relief efforts
Grant us all firm resolve to stand with our neighbours who are in need, to love them and to offer our generous support of them in this their time of trouble.
So, guide and bless your people,
that we may enjoy the fruits of the earth
and give you thanks with grateful hearts,
Father, we pray that you will bless us
with the gift of strength when endurance is needed,
for imagination and initiative when action is called for,
for wisdom in times of confusion,
for compassion for those who suffer,
for faith in Christ’s saving action,
for hope when the situation seems desperate
and for charity in all things. Amen.
(Source: Levon Kardashian, Theoblogy)

Lord, you are always with us,
Our shelter in the midst of every tragedy.
In the quiet and the storm you surround us,
Your love stays closer than a friend.
In this time of devastations and disaster be with all who are vulnerable.
Hold them close as they grieve for loved ones lost and fear for those still buried.
Place your arms around each family in their shock and grief.
Guide those that respond and keep them safe.
Be with rescuers and firemen and emergency crews,
Be with medical workers,
Be with all who reach out to neighbours with your love and compassion.
Comfort and protect them in the midst of danger and of strife.
Provide food, and shelter and care for all who have been displaced.
God of all life, you are always close to the brokenhearted,
May all find comfort in the embrace of your wings.
(Source: Christine Sine, GodspaceLight)

Prayer for the people of Beirut
Light of new hope, God of refuge,
hear our prayer
as we hold the people of Beirut
in our hearts at this time.
Fill us with compassion
and move us to reach out in love.
In your mercy,
bring comfort to those who mourn,
healing to those who are injured,
shelter to those who are homeless
sustenance to those who hunger.
Give strength to those who are working
to rebuild shattered lives,
and protect those who are vulnerable
especially in a time of coronavirus.
Lead us in your ways
so that together we may bring
the light of new hope
wherever there is destruction and despair.
We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.
(Source: Regional Council of Churches, Atlanta)

COVID 19 prayers here

Another horrific act of family violence in Brisbane that has resulted in the death of 5 people. The grim statistics (Australia) are that an average of one person dies at the hands of an intimate partner/family member EVERY DAY. Struggling to find words, but this resource from Common Grace may provide some information and prayer resources. Also ‘Break the Silence Sunday‘ resources and Domestic Violence resources. 
“Humanise the perpetrator – Former footy player, fitness instructor, doting dad… and demonize the victim “his estranged wife” And that’s how we frame domestic and intimate partner violence. And it continues”.
(Bronwyn Spencer)
“It is imperative that we do not create a narrative where domestic violence is seen as “mutual combat” or “relationship conflict”. It occurs when one person makes a unilateral choice to exert power and control over another person”. (Susan Heward Belle, from ABC online article ‘What we’re getting wrong about domestic violence)
(When words fail to adequately address a situation in prayer, explore the idea of using freeform drawing and colour as an approach to prayer. Helpful ideas in Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way:Drawing a new path to God. NB this is not a colouring in book but a guide for using colour and lines for praying).

A compilation of prayers and resourcesAustralian bushfires 2020
Scroll down further for prayer resources in response to Australian bushfires.

South Korea declares state of emergency – ‘unprecedented’ wildfires force thousands to flee.

(8th January 2020)
God, today I pray Elijah’s prayer.
I affirm that you are not in the fire –
not in Australia, not in a city apartment,
but you are with those who flee and those who rescue.
You are not in the earthquake – not in Puerto Rico,
not in the tremors of a damaged family,
but you are with those who respond
to old damage and new brokenness,
You are not in the winds of war –
not in drones or missiles flying,
not in the words of threat,
but you are with diplomatsand peacemakers.
I am grateful that I met you caring for the grumpy prophet,
sending birds to feed him,
those whose falling you hold in your heart,
and I pray for those who grieve
the falling of many in the chaos and crowds
in the funeral procession in Kerman, Iran,
and those from seven countries, who grieve those fallen
in the air tragedy of Flight 752.
May each hear your love
in a holy silence, in a still small voice,
and in the prayers of the world. Amen.
(Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

God of all,
In the face of terror, we pray peace.
In the face of sorrow, we pray tears.
In the face of heartache, we pray release.
In the face of anger, we pray calm.
In the face of hate, we pray compassion.
In the face of insult, we pray respect.
In the face of selfishness, we pray grace.
In the face of wrong doing, we pray forgiveness
In the face of enemies, we pray reconciliation.
In the face of the overwhelming, we pray faith.
In the face of tomorrow, we pray hope.
God of all,
Spirit of wisdom,
Christ of the Cross,
In all things, we pray love. Amen
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite Facebook page, January 2020)

Puerto Rico 6.4 magnitude earthquake news story here (8 January 2020). Since Dec. 28, Puerto Rico has been struck by a series of earthquakes of increasing strength, including a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit on Monday. The largest and most destructive thus far struck the country early Tuesday morning, measuring in at 6.4 in magnitude. The region experienced multiple earthquakes and aftershocks in the following hours, including a 6.0 magnitude earthquake. Hundreds more are expected in the weeks ahead. “People are afraid to go to bed, to then be woken up to worse earthquakes than the day before.” Three hundred thousand without water, no electricity, many injured, one man killed. Puerto Rico suffered devastating damages from Hurricane Maria in September 2017, and some regions of the island are still recovering from that destruction more than two years later.

Prayer for Puerto Rico
God, for the beauty of Puerto Rico,
for the whispers of taíno heritage,
for dawn over water,
for mountains and shores
for the royal poinciana on the hills,
the song of the coqui,
the orchids and parrots, we give thanks.
For gifts to the world –
for music, storytelling, dance,
for poets and architects,
for playwrights, poets, athletes,
musicians and singers,
diplomats, human rights activists,
inventors, engineers, we give thanks.
For courage in spite of neglect,
after hurricane Maria,
for the resilience of people
during power failures
and the failure of people in power
to offer assistance,
for continued sharing and generosity,
for spirit that stays alive
month after month of waiting,
for reaching out
to help one another and offer hope
in the earthquakes of this week,
we give thanks.
And from our gratitude,
not our pity at news footage
of devastations,
but from our amazement
at courage, strength, perseverance —
we pray with our hearts,
and also with our open hands. Amen.
(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands, January 2020)

Say it loud and there’s music playing
Say it soft and it’s almost like praying
It’s almost like praying….
Cabo Rojo, Corozal, Naguabo, Guaynabo, San Lorenzo y San Germán
San Sebastián, mi viejo San Juan, Isabela, Maricao
Fajardo, Dorado, Hormigueros, Humacao, Luquillo, Hatillo
Vega Alta, Vega Baja, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Mayagüez
Yes, otra vez, yes, Aguadilla, Quebradillas, Guayanilla,
Juana Díaz, Y Cayey, hey
It’s almost like praying (Puerto Rico)…..
(more lyrics to this song on LyricFindlet the vitality of the music and the people guide your prayers?)

World Council of Churches, 08 January 2020
Impact on Iraq’s Christian communities
In the aftermath of armed attacks by both the US and Iran, WCC reiterates its call for restraint and de-escalation of the confrontation. “Further escalation and conflict between the United States and Iran can only serve short-term political interests, while threatening the permanent destruction of many lives, communities and precious cultural and environmental heritage,” said World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. “I appeal to political leaders on all sides of this confrontation to put the interests of the people of the region ahead of their own interests, and to seek peace through dialogue and negotiation rather than confrontation.”
On 3 January, the WCC urged “maximum restraint” following the US air strike that killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s most prominent military commander, at Baghdad airport in Iraq. Iranian missile attacks on bases in Iraq housing US and other international military personnel in the early morning of 8 January apparently resulted in no casualties and minimal damage. Shortly after the missile attacks Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif stated that Iran has “concluded proportionate measures in self-defense” and that “we do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.” President Trump has acknowledged that Iran “appears to be standing down.”
“The Middle East has suffered so much conflict and bloodshed for so long,” observed WCC director for international affairs Peter Prove. “Armed attacks and military confrontation serve to perpetuate a never-ending cycle of continuous war in the region. We urge US and Iranian leaders to refrain from any measures that might risk further escalation, and to choose peace instead. I call on WCC member churches around the world to join in prayers for peace,” added Tveit, “and pray that the leaders of these nations will be guided into and follow the way of peace.”
(May find prayers or prayers for peace to adapt here. )

Devastating bushfires in Australia

December 2019/January 2020 – fires in NSW, WA, Victoria, Queensland, and SA

Our prayers are with families and communities, the fire fighters and emergency workers, for those living with the reality of property loss, and those grieving loss of loved ones.

Prayer for the people, animals, and land of Australia
We pray for gentle rains, and no wind;
we pray for cooling skies,
and water in abundance;
we pray for the burning land,
we pray for the four legged, and the winged,
for the koala and the kangaroo,
and all of their neighbours;
we pray for the people who are trapped,
for the people who have lost their homes,
for the firefighters and the first responders,
for the exhausted and the tapped out,
we pray for Australia,
from east, to south, to west, to north,
and all the places in between.
In this world of changed and changing climate, God,
we ask that you would help us
to help those who are in immediate danger;
may we use what we have to help and to heal –
then call us to repent of all the ways
we continue to make this world
a place of death, rather than life.
Help us, O God… because we
don’t seem to be able to do it on our own.
In Christ’s name, on the wings of the Holy Spirit,
we pray. Amen.
(Source: Right Rev. Richard Bott, United Church of Christ in Canada)

Dear Lord,
We pray for those who have been affected by the recent fires that have been spreading through Australia. We remember those who have lost their lives, their homes, their livelihood and we ask that you comfort them at this devastating time. Give them the courage to carry on.
We pray for strength for the firefighters. They are risking everything to help rescue others and local wildlife. Stand by them when they are weak and fill them with your Holy Spirit.
We ask that you send your compassion, healing, strength and love to the people of Australia. 
In Jesus name we pray. Amen
(Source: Glasgow Churches Together)

Now thank we all our God
for lives beloved and cherished,
the brave who faced the flames,
the young and old who perished,
for those who fight the fires that sear our country’s soul,
for all who give relief 
to comfort and make whole.

No tears can stem this grief
through outback, town or city,
yet as disaster strikes,
we share a common pity,
where hearts and hands can help to build or recreate,
our nation stands as one
to mourn our people’s fate.

Our lives are held in trust,
O God of our believing,
and we who still are spared,
owe duty to the grieving,
for everyone is kin when all can feel this pain,
as families are gone
and shattered ones remain.

Now thank we all our God
for courage meeting danger,
when selfless spirits fight
for mate or helpless stranger,
when wind and bushfire flare and terror grips our faith,
compassion keeps us strong,
through tragedy and death.
TUNE: Nun Danket Alle Gott; words: © Shirley Erena Murray
Note: Shirley wrote this hymn on 12 February 2009, in response to the Victorian bushfire disaster. She chose the theme and tune of “Now thank we all our God” because Martin Rinkart wrote his much-loved hymn after ministering to people dying from the plague in Saxony in the 17th century, and after conducting funerals for around 5000 plague victims, including his wife. Shirley gives free permission for its use throughout Australia.

Loving God, our hearts are joined with the trials and sufferings of all affected by the bush fires. Protect those in the path of danger. Open the pathway of evacuation. Help loved ones to find one another in the chaos. Provide assistance to those who need help. Where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope. Ease the fears of all and make your presence known in the stillness of your peace.
O God, we commend to your loving keeping, all who work to bring rescue and relief, especially the firefighters, police, paramedics, medical personnel, and volunteers, – all who are helping. Give them courage in danger, skill in difficulty, and compassion in service. Sustain them with bodily strength and calmness of mind that they may perform their work to the well-being of those in need so that lives may be saved and communities restored.
Loving Lord, we come to you trusting in your mercy and knowing that your steadfast love endures forever. Comfort those who have been harmed or displaced by this disaster. Grant them your strength to meet the days ahead. Allow them to experience your peace, and grant them hope to face the future. Move in those who are able to give aid, that we may be your hands and heart on the earth.
(Source: Prayer adapted from Lutheran Disaster Response, Upstate NY)

What cannot be said will be wept (a quote attributed to Sappho)

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record? (Psalm 56: 8)

O God, when words fail hear our weeping.
Hear our weeping, treasure our tears,
answer our cry. Amen.
(Source: Rev Gal Blog Pals website)

Prayer for NSW by the Uniting Church Moderator
God of life and death,
our prayers today are where our hearts and minds
have been during these last days
and where they have been drawn so early in this season;
with those communities and individuals
whose lives have been damaged
in differing ways by the bushfires.
We pray for all those who have been affected;
for the families and friends of those who have been killed.
We pray for those who are missing,
for their safety, for the fears of those who love them;
bring each one safely home, we pray.
We pray for those who have been injured and survived:
for physical and emotional trauma;
for the fear and helplessness experienced;
for the anger and frustration at the injustice
of unavoidable disaster.
We pray for those who have lost their home and property
or are facing such loss:
for those who have been forced to leave
their memories and belongings;
for the fear and disorientation of all involved;
Heal them from their nightmare memories.
We are aware of those who have lost stock,
or are watching their stock suffer
sometimes with inevitable consequences;
we are conscious of those
who are struggling to find feed and water
for the stock under their care.
We pray for all involved in fighting the fire:
for our Rural Fire Service and their leadership
and all those we know and those we do not know;
we pray for courage in a place of fear;
for new strength in the face of exhaustion;
for people who have travelled distances
in order to resource those who experience fatigue.
We pray for all who offer support and care at this time:
for the various agencies, churches and community groups;
for disaster response chaplains;
for government services as they are activated;
for friends and neighbours, known and unknown;
for providing a shoulder upon which to lean, or weep;
we give thanks, too,
for the generosity of many, in small and large ways,
towards those who are struggling.
We are mindful of the days, weeks and months ahead,
for many dangerous days yet to come,
for seasons of recovery and rebuilding,
of homes, farms, lives and communities;
we pray for strength, courage, patience and hope
as grieving continues,
as frustrations rise
and inevitable changes occur.
We pray, too, knowing that we are entering a harsher climate,
less predictable and more volatile;
as we care for each other, help us to care for your creation,
to be worthy stewards and advocates
of all which you have made.
Keep us faithful and alert
in our praying and our action;
in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
(Source: The Moderator NSW &ACT UCA, Rev. Simon Hansford)

For the partners of volunteer firefighters: I see you
We praise the firefighters themselves (as we should), and we praise employers who allow their employees time off to volunteer (as we also should). But, to the partners and families of volunteer firefighters, I want to say this: I see you.
I see you, holding up the fort behind the scenes, reassuring your children that their other parent will be okay, while hoping this is true.
I see you, wanting to stay informed yet unable to watch the news because those images are so terrifying.
I see you, giving up your own commitments to give your partner the space to be away.
I see you, as you readjust the family budget when work days (your partner’s and yours) are lost.
I see you, keeping life as stable and calm as you can for your children.
I see you, staying strong as you enact your fire plan alone.
I see you, as people commend your partner’s heroics; sometimes you agree and sometimes you wish they’d never signed up for it.
I see you, as you feel a range of different things: pride, worry, frustration.
I see you, as you wish that hero could be a hero alongside you at home.
I see you, caring for your partner when they return in a state of exhaustion and emotion.
(Megan Blandford, published in Sydney Morning Herald January 2020)

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.
(Words: Shirley Murray, (*v 3&4 omitted); tune: St Columba

We pray for those affected – for courage, strength, patience, resilience and hope, to face the days and weeks and months ahead, even when the story no longer has media attention.
We give thanks for firefighters and emergency service personnel, police officers and ambulance officers, who work together to fight the wildfire and support residents.
We pray for those who must undertake the grim search for those who have died…
We pray for those who have lost homes when this fire took all in its path – homes of the rich and famous, and ordinary people who have invested their savings into their homes.
In amongst the grief, anger, loss and confusion, and unspeakable sorrow, we give thanks that so many people of goodwill are offering practical support in this time of great need.
We give thanks that the God we know in Jesus Christ journeys with us and remains with us all the days of our life, even through the dark valleys and times of sorrow and lament. Amen.
(Rev Cathie Lambert, 2011, adapted)

A Prayer for all those affected by the bush fires in New South Wales and Queensland.
Loving God, our hearts are joined with the trials and sufferings of all affected by the bush fires. Protect those in the path of danger. Open the pathway of evacuation. Help loved ones to find one another in the chaos. Provide assistance to those who need help. Where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope. Ease the fears of all and make your presence known in the stillness of your peace.
O God, we commend to your loving keeping, all who work to bring rescue and relief, especially the firefighters, police, paramedics, medical personnel, and volunteers, – all who are helping. Give them courage in danger, skill in difficulty, and compassion in service. Sustain them with bodily strength and calmness of mind that they may perform their work to the well-being of those in need so that lives may be saved and communities restored.
Loving Lord, we come to you trusting in your mercy and knowing that your steadfast love endures forever. Comfort those who have been harmed or displaced by this disaster. Grant them your strength to meet the days ahead. Allow them to experience your peace, and grant them hope to face the future. Move in those who are able to give aid, that we may be your hands and heart on the earth.
(Prayer adapted from Lutheran Disaster Response, Upstate NY)

God, we know that you kindle
hearts and not bush,
and that you walk with us
into the deepest fires
as you did in the long-ago Bible story
of the three faithful ones,
This day we ask for your grace,
your courage, and your strength
to surround all those
who are fighting the bush fires
in New South Wales and Queensland.
Give comfort
to those who grieve loss of life.
Give hope of rebuilding
to those whose farms are destroyed,
and homes are demolished.
Give ease of fear
for children whose schools
have burned or closed for danger.
Hold in tenderness
those who count the losses
of more than three hundred koalas.
In dry bush and high wind, O Holy One,
whisper your word of peace.
(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

December 2019 – volcanic eruption in NZ
God, we are all tourists,
going somewhere new,
hoping to learn
from other people, other landscapes.
And so we pray for those who came
to the Land of the Long White Cloud,
to listen to tangata whenua,
to honor haka, to hike,
to scan sky and land for birds,
and to walk the amazing volcanos,
who died in this eruption.
Tenderly hold those who grieve,
those who worry about loved ones
who are still missing,
and rescue workers, still waiting
for an opportunity to return.
God of the mountains and of the depths,
rest your cloak on your children. Amen
Ko ngā raorao katoa ka whakarewaina ake, ko ngā maunga katoa me ngā pukepuke, ka whakapāpakutia iho: ko ngā wāhi kōpikopiko ka meinga kia tika, ko ngā wāhi taratara kia papatairite (PT Ihaia 40:4). / Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. (Isaiah 40:4)
(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Loving God, who stands in solidarity with us in our frailty and anxiety, be present to those who grieve the loss of loved ones, and those who wait in apprehension. Strengthen us to love and support each other. Be with those who are suffering and those ministering to them. Keep us in the hope of Christ. Amen.
(Source: Rev David Baker, Moderator, Qld Synod)

November 2019 – Earthquake in Albania
At least 18 people have been killed, several more are missing and hundreds have been injured after an earthquake struck Albania on Tuesday. The quake had a preliminary rating of 6.4 magnitude. 
God who shakes our hearts
to be compassionate,
tenderly care for your children
in Durres, Lezhe, Kurbin,
Thumane and Tirana.
Comfort those who mourn
family and friends,
Grant healing hands
to those who care for so many injured,
keen eyes and strength
for those who are still searching
among debris to save more.
We pray for Bosnia and Herzegovina
in their quakes today,
and give thanks for the reflex
of immediate kindness
from Italy and Greece.
And we also pray
for the tomorrows of rebuilding,
and the remembering
of all the losses
which cannot be restored
but can be held in love,
in your peace, in your stillness. Amen
(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

August 2019: A wave of shootings in the United States has prompted lament, condolences and condemnations from US churches and the World Council of Churches (WCC). “We stand with our sisters and brothers in the US in these hours of grief and confusion,” said WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, “and, along with our condolences, we join the urgent cries of churches and church people for real remedies to the gun violence there.” (Read the statement here).

Which is to say
this blessing
is always.
Which is to say
there is no place
this blessing
does not long
to cry out
in lament,
to weep its words
in sorrow,
to scream its lines
in sacred rage.
Which is to say
there is no day
this blessing ceases
to whisper
into the ear
of the dying,
the despairing,
the terrified.
Which is to say
there is no moment
this blessing refuses
to sing itself
into the heart
of the hated
and the hateful,
the victim
and the victimizer,
with every last
ounce of hope
it has.
Which is to say
there is none
that can stop it,
none that can
halt its course,
none that will
still its cadence,
none that will
delay its rising,
none that can keep it
from springing forth
from the mouths of us
who hope,
from the hands of us
who act,
from the hearts of us
who love,
from the feet of us
who will not cease
our stubborn, aching
marching, marching
until this blessing
has spoken
its final word,
until this blessing
has breathed
its benediction
in every place,
in every tongue:
(Source: Jan Richardson, from The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief)

For those who did not see,
who did not realize the child or parent,
brother, sister, friend,
neighbor, workmate, acquaintance,
would pick up a gun and kill,
I pray today.
For those who say – he was quiet,
or – the last few months
there was a change but we never thought …
for those who rocked a baby,
with ten adorable toes,
who kissed a sweetheart,
who thanked someone for shoveling,
who compared test grades
and complained about the teacher,
and never imagined
the killing of other people’s babies,
I pray today.
These, too, are filled with despair,
with formless guilt
that will never go away,
and dreams of ghosts and loss,
these, too, are victims
of gun merchants and the NRA,
the cowardice of lawmakers,
a core of violence
in the self-image of America,
the hair-trigger of Trump’s hatred,
and the inertia
of those of us
who do see
what is desperately wrong
but do nothing
until someone we loved is killed,
or someone we love kills.
(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Prayer for the shooting in Dayton, Ohio
(first we mourn, then we must act)

God, we are broken psalmists
for weeping came in the night
and more weeping comes in the morning.

We lift up in sorrow
all of those affected by the gun tragedy
in the Oregon district of Dayton, Ohio,
the two hundred, fifty-first
mass shooting of this year
in this United States.

Wrap your tenderness around
those who mourn
nine who have already died,
sixteen who are wounded.
These are not new numbers
in an era of violence,
but particular beloveds,
of family and friends,
out to dance or eat,
or walk in the summer warmth.

Hold them in your embrace,
shelter them in your resurrection,
sit with families
in intensive care and in funeral homes,
hold the flood of tears,
angry words, angry even at you,
loss it will take years to comfort.

Then teach us how to change
this culture of guns,
not by our despair
but by courage and resistance,
so that we may rise to a new morning,
and walk into a day of hope. Amen.
(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Prayers for El Paso
God, who walks with us
in our all marketplaces
and runs with frightened children
but especially these
who were buying new clothes,
shoes, notebooks for school,
until they heard gunfire.

Comfort those who grieve,
on this day in El Paso
and for the rest of their lives,
wait with the wounded
and those who care for them,
steady the frightened
and those who sustain them,
strengthen these first responders,
and those with such responsibility
in other towns,
who wonder what day
will end in tragedy.

Make us all second responders,
resisters of gun violence,
and send all this country
to a school
where we may learn peace. Amen.
(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

What cannot be said will be wept (a quote attributed to Sappho)
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record? (Psalm 56: 8)
O God,
when words fail
hear our weeping.
Hear our weeping,
treasure our tears,
answer our cry. Amen.
(Source: Rev Gal Blog Pals website)

Prayer for Gilroy California
by Maren C Tirabassi
God, who calls people to make festivals,
ancient ones, modern ones,
celebrations of harvest,
like the Garlic Festival
that are opportunities for joy,
for music and food and laughter,
we pray for your tenderness
to surround the people of Gilroy
after this shooting.
Comfort those who mourn
family and friends,
especially a six year-old child,
taken by violence so young,
watch with those in the hospital,
hold the hands
of the traumatized,
heal ragged wounds of anxiety
among so many who fear
to go to any place of gathering.
Be with us, festival and funeral,
morning and evening,
moments we can offer compassion,
and times for courage to change
from a culture of guns to
a harvest of peace. Amen
(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi, Gift in Open Hands)

When Human Voices Cannot Sing
A song of confession and hope (*v 4 omitted)

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 Murray; tune: St Columba

Book: Grief and God: When Religion Does More Harm Than Healing
In many religious traditions, God is assumed to be responsive to the needs of believers, and in difficult times, the faithful turn to God for comfort and guidance. When God is viewed as a benevolent protector that can shield us from harm. What happens to faith – and healing – when God fails to provide that protection? In Grief and God, Dr. Terri Daniel explores a range of theological constructs that can inhibit healing for those who are grieving a profound loss. Doctrines such as original sin, salvation and eternal punishment in hell can be soul-crushing for someone dealing with loss and trauma. Similarly, the belief that petitionary or intercessory prayer can change the course of events can lead to confusion and guilt when prayers don’t produce the desired results. This book explores the cognitive dissonance we experience when our religious beliefs – whether inherited or chosen – do not match up with our lived experience. Based on the author’s doctoral research on how toxic theologies can complicate the mourning process, the reader is invited to explore specific religious mindsets that can interfere with healing and psychological well-being. These mindsets tend to be rooted in Judeo-Christian doctrine, and can lead to complications in the mourning process, which can result in confusion, depression, and the inability to regain emotional equilibrium after a traumatic loss.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Terri Daniel is an interfaith clinical chaplain and educator certified in death, dying and bereavement by the Association for Death Education and counseling, and in trauma counselling by the International Association of Trauma Professionals.

Prayer for Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo
O God, be gracious for your children bleed.
Heal them for their heads ache,
they lie in fever, they shake with terror.
How long, O God, and how many will die?
For we have the vaccine,
and the treatment can be effective,
as it was in Liberia, Sierra Leone,
Nigeria, Guinea,
but the history of conflict in this land
lies deep in the bones.
For the sake of your steadfast love
reach out – they are weary with diarrhea,
their beds are soaked with vomit,
and their kidneys waste away.
Their children are crying
because in a place of war without end
illness and fear kill together,
international health workers are killed,
doctors threatened, clinics burned.
and even in graveyards,
fighting breaks out
where there should be prayer.
But you, God, accept our prayers –
for gathering local people to care
and empowering global compassion
to train those most trusted.
In the hemorrhaging in Congo,
with history deeper
than any vaccine can go,
give wisdom, give compassion,
surround those who risk themselves
with your peace. (this prayer began in Psalm 6)
(Source: Maren C.Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Prayer for STEM School Highlands Ranch, Colorado
(another school shooting – Lord, have mercy)
God, we pray for those who are grieving today
for the loss of life of someone
who should be graduating from school.
Grant them some comfort and the support of others
but may they never understand,
never forget the wonderful life they shared.

We pray for those who are caring
for the injured or waiting to hear news,
and for those who are frightened at STEM School,
who ran from the school or hid in classrooms,
and will be changed by this attack
for every day of their lives.

For these and other students
becoming hesitant, anxious, school phobic —
little ones who expect the month of May
to bring craft projects,
middle schoolers practicing in band
for a Memorial Day parade,
older ones who are buying and renting
clothes for a prom,
playing softball and lacrosse,
or sending grandparents
their graduation invitations —

for these we pray for resilience, hope,
and that they may trust those who make laws
to protect them from the guns
that cause all their childhoods
to stumble,
so abruptly and completely. Amen.
(Mark 9: 42-43a If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea)
(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)
(scroll down for more prayers for school shootings)

Prayer in remembrance of the victims of the 2004 tsunami
Stay with us, Lord, in the devastating moment
when waters roll above our heads,
smashing trees, destroying houses,
flooding rice fields, swallowing cattle herds,
chasing people running to save their lives.

Stay with us, Lord, in the dark moments,
open our eyes that we may recognize you as the risen One,
who has defeated death and its sting;
who has come by water and blood;
who has been baptized with water by John;
who has changed water into wine;
who has calmed the stormy sea;
who has given living water;
who wipes away our tears.

Stay with us, Lord, in the uncertain moments.
With your Holy Spirit raise us from our hopelessness,
wipe away our disbelief and strengthen our faith,
so that our hearts will burn to proclaim your resurrection,
the water of life springing forth and bringing hope.
(Source: 2005 Ester Pudjo Widiasih, Jakarta Theological Seminary, Jakarta, Indonesia)

Prayer for Mozambique
God, may our minds listen to names —
Pemba and Quissanga and Macomia,
Ibo Island, Comoros Island, Matemo Island,
places in Mozambique
where Cyclone Idai swept through
and now Cyclone Kenneth brings destruction.
May our hearts learn about broken homes,
closed roads, the many shattered places
where people shopped and worked,
played and went to school
worshipped and laughed,
that are now places of flood, landslide,
the expectation of flood peaks,
the desperation of preparing for cholera.
May our hands open to works of kindness,
and may all hands with abundance
send aid in time,
care for the ill, rescue for those cut off,
and a hope of rebuilding, shopping,
working, playing, praying.
And may our spirits fill with amazement,
and stir with gratitude and wonder —
for these are the new teachers
for the whole world
of what courage can mean
of standing up again
after a second disaster,
of sharing across old differences,
of indomitable hope
that no wind can blow away.
Mind and heart, hands and spirits –
turn us all,
and all of us,
to Mozambique. Amen.
(Source: Maren C Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Prayer during Cyclone Fani (India)
India evacuates 800,000 from coastal areas, anticipating 127 mph winds affecting the region
God, we pray for Andhra Pradesh and for Odisha —
for those who prepare shelters,
those who flee to them and those who hesitate,
for those who seeks for the endangered,
and will continue in courage
through wind and rain,
for the temple in Puri
and pilgrims who gather there,
for those who remember the last cyclone
with grieving in the heart
and those who fear today
for home and business, hospital, school.
In the beauty of your land India,
people are caring for people —
give them strength, hope and courage. Amen
(Source: Maren C Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Prayer for Sri Lanka – Easter Sunday
Christ, risen with holes
in hands and feet and side,
this Easter comes to us with a hole
in all of our hearts.
We pray for all the people of Sri Lanka
torn from holiness to violence,
for those who mourn
lost family members and friends,
for those wounded and hospitalized
those who are caring for them,
and those seeking to restore peace.
May our alleluias turn to tears,
our rejoicing
be an embrace for those who mourn,
and our faith in the resurrection
claim for each one
the stone rolled away
and the grace of life eternal. Amen
(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

When will we stop blowing each other up?
When will we stop crucifying those
who challenge our belief or authority?
When will we stop hating others
with our judgement and moralizing?
When will we stop being intentionally ignorant
and deliberately biased to avoid understanding and compassion?
When will we stop procrastinating from taking action for peace?
When will we better walk your way of cross- filled sacrifice?
When will we let you challenge our religion
and stretch our belief?
When will we sacrifice our lives for you and your will
as you sacrificed yours for us?
Christ have mercy
Christ have mercy
Christ have mercy
Christ bring peace
Christ bring grace
Christ bring love. Amen.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite Facebook, 22 April 2019)

A Prayer for all those affected by the EASTER SUNDAY MASSACRE IN SRI LANKA
We pray to you Jesus,
for those who were killed in the Easter Sunday Massacres.
We pray for the people who were killed at Easter Services
in St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo,
Zion Church in Batticaloa,
and St Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, Colombo.
We pray for the people who were killed in several hotel blasts,
and in a housing area.
We pray to you Jesus,
for the people receiving urgent medical treatment,
and for health care personnel assisting them.
We pray for the families of the bereaved and injured,
and for their friends and community members.
We pray to you Jesus,
for the emergency services, police and security,
as they seek to provide humanitarian support,
and to prevent further tragedy.
We pray to you Jesus,
for our sisters and brothers deeply traumatized.
We pray for Sri Lankan families in other nations
as they await news of loved ones.
We pray in solidarity.
We pray for our extended family.
We pray for peace. Amen.
(Source: Fr Gerry, (Via St Joseph and St Anthony Parish, Bracken Ridge)

Prayer for Sri Lanka during this Easter
O the Risen Lord,
in the midst of Easter celebration,
our joyful proclamation,
we remember the churches in Sri Lanka.
In the fellowship of Christ
if one part suffers, every part suffers with it.

O the crucified Lord,
We condemn the senseless violence,
the attacks on people gathered at worship.
We offer prayers for the victims and injured tourists,
We show our solidarity with the people in that land
proclaim the risen of the crucified Lord.

O God of compassion,
We pray for Easter peace and religious harmony.
May this peace be a beacon for people seeking hope;
May this harmony be a fabric weaving together cultural traditions.
We pray for the past violence being sealed in the tomb of Christ
Let the emptiness turn suffering into compassion to the world.

O the Spirit of all lives,
We pray for church leaders in Sri Lanka,
particularly St Anthony’s Church in Kochikade.
May they cry with the people in suffering,
give them strength to work through the loss,
and provide care for the affected communities.

O God of new creation,
send heartfelt prayers to the Catholic Church and Anglican Church,
Methodist Church and Church of South India in Jaffna.
May all churches be united in one voice,
let long hatred and acts of violence go no further.
Life is stronger than death.
May they take a leadership with the government toward peace.

O the Risen Christ,
we remember the diaspora community in Australia.
Let this Easter be a time of unity and renewal,
for working towards peace and harmony.
May the past no longer hurt them.
O the Risen Christ, come meet them in this land,
through our prayers – peace be with you.
(Written by Rev Dr Ji Zhang, Assembly Theologian-in-Residence, Uniting Church in Australia)

A Prayer for Aotearoa New Zealand
God of peace, we have seen hatred unleashed and precious lives lost. We grieve with the families and communities mourning the death of loved ones. Our hearts go out to those who have been injured physically and mentally and those who now feel a heightened sense of insecurity because of what has happened. God of comfort bring light in the darkness.
Sustain religious and community leaders as they support families and seek to bring hope and healing within their communities. Be with the people of the NZ emergency services and others traumatised by these recent events.
Thank you for all the expressions of solidarity we have seen following this act of terrorism. What was intended to spread hated has instead brought people together. Thank you that many have come together to join voices, stand together, convey their condolences and affirm their commitment to building an inclusive society. Thank you for those offering wise and prophetic leadership, who have communicated by their words and actions a vision of the kind of societies we want based on respect, kindness, compassion and good will towards one another. May we continue to engage in a process of self-examination as we consider what creates an environment where seeds of hatred grow.
Loving God bring light into our darkness. Bring peace to the people of Aotearoa New Zealand. Give friendships across religious differences. Plant in us seeds of hope for a world where all your children flourish. Amen
(Source: Rev Helen Richmond, Facebook post, March 2019)

O God, We Grieve the Hatred
(written in response to the NZ mosque shootings)
AURELIA D (“The Church’s One Foundation”)
O God, we grieve the hatred, the ugly, racist fear
that hurts our common living and harms those you hold dear.
For Muslims who were gathered to worship and to pray
soon found their lives were shattered as violence filled their day.

We pray for those now grieving for loved ones who are lost;
we pray for people suffering because of hatred’s cost.
For all of us, now frightened by what extremists do,
we pray: O God of mercy! May we find strength in you!

We grieve our lack of courage: we tolerate the wrong
of people who are racist; we simply go along.
We let the fear continue; we’re slow to challenge hate.
We say, “It’s not our issue,” until it is too late.

O God of love and mercy, you teach us how to be
a loving, caring people, a kind community.
May we reach out to neighbors and welcome others here
for love is what is needed to cast out pride and fear.
Biblical Reference: 1 John 4:7-21
Tune: Samuel Sebastian Wesley, 1864 (“The Church’s One Foundation”)
Text: Copyright © 2019 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
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God of hope, we come to you in shock and grief and confusion of heart. Help us to find peace in the knowledge of your loving mercy to all your children and give us light to guide us out of our darkness into the assurance of your love. Amen.
(Source: New Zealand prayer book)

We Pray in the Wake of the Horror of Violence
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 no-one dies because of the cause of others,
And that we might live together,
If not in unity, at least with respect and tolerance.
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)
Uniting Church President Dr Deidre Palmer has asked members to keep residents in disaster-affected areas in their prayers in the days and weeks ahead. After heavy monsoonal rain, Townsville and surrounding areas are experiencing major flooding. Hundreds of residents have been evacuated and thousands of homes have been inundated. The Presbytery of North Queensland cancelled all church services over the weekend to ensure that no one crossed floodwaters. Some churches have opened their doors for people to gather and find support. In Tasmania, seven homes have been destroyed in widespread bushfires, which have been burning since before Christmas. Firefighters are hoping rainfall in the coming days could help control the blazes which continue to burn out of control across the state.
“We pray for all those who are suffering through adversity, that they might know God’s grace and love and be restored in hope through it. In times of natural disaster, churches are pastoral first responders to people experiencing the pain and grief of loss,” said Dr Palmer. “I pray for our chaplains as they seek to comfort the distraught, and our local church leaders as they seek to support the communities around them.”
The Assembly’s National Disaster Recovery Officer Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson says support is available for presbyteries and congregations through Uniting Church disaster relief funds. “As we pray and wait to see the extent of damage and loss, we will continue to make sure that local Presbyteries are aware of the availability of peer support, monetary support through Synod and Assembly disaster relief funds and the possibility of extra ministry resources which can follow up in the recovery phase.”
God of all comfort and compassion,
We pray for those in our community and our Presbytery
who are being or have been devastated by flood and rain. We know that while the rain has come as a blessing to some,
particularly those in our outback areas,
for those whose properties are inundated or lives that have been threatened,
we pray for your protection and mercy. Strengthen those who are isolated,
Who lay sleeplessly at night concerned for their own
and their neighbour’s safety. Keep at bay the spread of disease
And show mercy and give strength
to our emergency services and SES volunteers. Protect those who are trapped in floodwaters,
particularly those who are visitors to our region
and have no home in which to find comfort. May our response to the suffering of others be generous and bring you praise.
For we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
(Source: Rev. Garry Hardingham, Chairperson and Presbytery Minister
Presbytery of North Queensland)
Loving God, in the midst of what nature brings us, we thank you for the deep wells of community life; we pray that people will be kept safe; that property damage be minimal, that we might support and help one another through these challenging days. Be with the people of Townsville and district we pray.
(Source: Rev David Baker, Moderator, Synod of Queensland)

Permission is given for free use of this hymn; please share it!

A Girl Died at the Border
ST. CHRISTOPHER (“Beneath the Cross of Jesus”)

A girl died at the border; O God, how can this be?
She came here with her father and was put in custody—
Then fever, shock and dehydration took her life away—
Or did she die from something else— from stumbling blocks we made?

Lord, she was only seven! What things should she have known?
The sounds of playing, and the joys of freedom, justice, home…
and food to spare, a place to rest, cool water close at hand…
and feeling welcomed, treasured, blessed… and folks who understand.

Lord Jesus, we remember your words that bring us pause:
There will be times of stumbling here, but woe if we’re the cause.
And woe when children, fleeing danger, stumble, thirst and die.
And woe to us, a nation, if we are the reason why.

O God of great compassion, you love each little one;
So shake us loose from our believing nothing can be done.
When any child is suffering, Lord, we pray that love will win;
God, may we now obey your word and welcome children in.

Biblical References: Matthew 17:1-2; 19:13-14
Tune: Frederick Charles Maker, 1881
Text: Copyright © 201 8 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
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Biblical texts: Matthew 17: 1-2 Jesus said to his disciples, “ Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble.

Matthew 19:13-14: Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, “ Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs. ”
This prayer was written by Rev Cathie Lambert (Uniting Church in Australia) for the 2011 Margaret River fires. Cathie’s prayer has been slightly adapted in the context of the horrendous tragedy unfolding in southern California with thousands of homes burnt to the ground and deaths of many people.

We lament the devastation of the fires in California…..
of tragic loss of lives…
of homes reduced to ash…
for the town of Paradise reduced to rubble…
and Malibu enveloped by flames, and ash and smoke…
of treasured possessions and everyday necessities…
of mementos that held treasured memories…
of livelihood…
of vegetation and animals…
of the beauty of the landscape…
We bring these images of loss into your presence, sharing your grief and sharing the grief of your people and your land…
We pray for those affected – for courage, strength, patience, resilience and hope, to face the days and weeks and months ahead, even when the story no longer has media attention.
We give thanks for firefighters and emergency service personnel, police officers and ambulance officers, who work together to fight the wildfire and support residents.
We pray for those who must undertake the grim search for those who have died…
We pray for those who have lost homes when this fire took all in its path – homes of the rich and famous, and ordinary people who have invested their savings into their homes.
In amongst the grief, anger, loss and confusion, and unspeakable sorrow, we give thanks that so many people of goodwill are offering practical support in this time of great need. We give thanks that the God we know in Jesus Christ journeys with us and remains with us all the days of our life, even through the dark valleys and times of sorrow and lament. Amen.
(Rev Cathie Lambert, 2011, adapted)

The following hymn was originally written on the day of the Columbine High School shootings and sadly has been sung after many more school shootings.
God, We Have Heard It
God, we have heard it, sounding in the silence:
News of the children lost to this world’s violence.
Children of promise! Then without a warning,
Loved ones are mourning.

Jesus, you came to bear our human sorrow;
You came to give us hope for each tomorrow.
You are our life, Lord God’s own love revealing.
We need your healing!

Heal us from giving weapons any glory;
Help us, O Prince of Peace, to hear your story;
Help us resist the evil all around here;
May love abound here!

By your own Spirit, give your church a clear voice;
In this world’s violence, help us make a new choice.
Help us to witness to the joy your peace brings,
Until your world sings!

Tune: Johann Crüger (or Crueger), 1640 (“Ah, Holy Jesus”) (MIDI)
Text: Copyright © 1999 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
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Tsunami in Indonesia
On Friday 28th September 2018, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 struck Sulawesi island in Indonesia. It led to a tsunami with waves up to 3 metres high hitting the city of Palu. More than 1200 people are confirmed dead, and many remain missing or injured and rescuers fear this number could rise significantly. About 50,000 people are known to be displaced from their homes. People who have survived the earthquake and tsunami are left without food, clean water, shelter and health care. Many buildings are badly damaged or destroyed. Thousands of homes have collapsed along with hospitals, hotels and shops, and the airport is not functioning. Several large coastal towns remain cut off by damaged roads and communication lines are down. The areas of Donggala, Sigi and Parigi Moutong – with combined populations of 1.2 million – have yet to be fully assessed. A number of appeals have been launched including TEAR and UnitingWorld.

Prayer for Indonesia

Lord, we pray for the people of Indonesia who have already suffered ten earthquakes this year. We lift up to you the families hit by this latest devastating earthquake and tsunami. Comfort those who have lost loved ones and homes, and help to heal and restore injured people.
We pray for the people of Palu, the closest town to the earthquake and ask you to comfort families who are facing unimaginable trauma. Draw close to communities as they count the cost of the destruction to lives and homes.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
(Source: TEAR Australia)

Prayer for Palu and Donggala
Tuhan empunya kehidupan,
tatkala bumi dan air bergerak dasyat,
mengambil kehidupan dan mereka yang kami cintai.
Kami datang kepada Mu dengan air mata bercucuran.

God of life,
when the earth and water moved violently,
took lives and those we love
We come before you with tears streaming down

Tuhan sumber kekuatan dan penghiburan,
tatkala tangan, kaki dan hati kami lemah,
karena bencana tsunami dan gempa.
Kami datang kepada mu dengan bersujud.

God, you are the source of strength and comfort,
when our hands, feet and hearts are weak
because of the tsunami and earthquake disaster.
We prostrate before you

Tuhan maha kasih, kepada Mu kami berdoa.
Berilah kekuatan buat keluarga dan sahabat
yang telah ditinggal pergi oleh orang terdekatnya,
berilah penghiburan buat mereka
yang kehilangan tanah dan tempat tinggal

Merciful God, we pray to you.
Give strength to families and friends,
to those who have lost loved one.
Give your comfort,
to those who have lost their land and houses.

Tuhan maha kuasa, kami berdoa buat
Pemerintah Indonesia,
lembaga keagamaan dan kemanusiaan,
anggota masyarakat yang aktif membantu
supaya usaha mereka berhasil
dalam memberikan pertolongan
Kami naikan doa ini
didalam nama Tuhan yang senantiasa memberkati kita semua

Almighty God, we pray for
The Indonesian Government,
religious and humanitarian agencies,
other communities who are in Palu and Donggala
may their efforts succeed in providing help
We offer this prayer in the name of the Lord who bless us always. Amen
(Source: Rev Dr Apwee Ting, Crosslight)

A prayer for drought relief in rural Australia
We pray for the land
we hear the promise you have spoken in Isaiah
of the refreshment of the creation;
of water in the desert,
of renewal for the land,
of hope, of life.

We name our simple need – rain for our thirsty land.
Our tanks and dams are nearly empty,
like our hopes for this season.

Please, loving God, bring us rain
to renew the ground, to replenish our dams,
to bring some chance of feed,
to bring the possibility of some reward
to those who have toiled so hard.

We turn to you in faith and hope.

We pray for our community
We pray for all those whose lives
are under the shadow of drought.

We think first of those who work with the land,
for farmers and their families,
for those who rely upon the land for their life and relationships.

We pray for contractors, merchants and truck drivers,
for rural counsellors and support workers,
for all our rural community.

May the refreshment of your Spirit,
present in miraculous and truly human ways,
be with all of us as we move forward into the days ahead.

We pray, too, for justice;
for fair prices for our stock and our wool and our crops.
We pray for governments, banks and corporations –
to be driven by the wisdom
of community, justice and compassion
not simply the folly of the dollar and the bottom line.

We pray for each other,
keep us aware of the needs of those around us:
for those who are struggling,
who are grieving,
who are ill, who are dying.

Restore those who are far from you
with the knowledge that they are loved and valued.

Give them not just a sense of renewal,
but a sense of hope and purpose for lives
that are finding the journey hard.

Let us see the miracle of healing
in relationships,
in lives,
in communities,
where there is illness
and hope is far away.

Keep us always conscious of the task we have
in ministry and mission in your world.

We offer all these prayers in the name of Jesus. Amen.
(Source: Uniting Church Moderator for NSW/ACT Rev. Simon Hansford)

Hurricane Florence (September 2018)
As Hurricane Florence bears down on the U.S. East coast and over 1 million people start evacuating, our prayers go out to all those who are in the path of the hurricane. We pray too for those who will respond to the destruction and the flooding and also for those who open their homes to victims of this disaster. (This prayer was written for Hurricane Florence, but at the same time there’s also a Super Typhoon wreaking havoc in the Philippines). 

Lord God almighty,creator of the universe
Ever-present, ever caring, you are always with us
Closer than a friend in times of trouble,
Our shelter in the midst of all disasters.
In the quiet and the storm you surround us,
Your love embraces and comforts us.
Lord God almighty, faithful and trustworthy One,
In this time of storm, of flooding and disaster
be with all who are vulnerable.
Hold them close
as the winds blow, the oceans rage and the land slides.
Place your arms around them as the trees fall and rivers rise.
Keep them safe from wind and rain and fly debris.
Lord God almighty,
Guide those that put their lives at risk to help.
Keep them safe.
Be with rescuers and firemen,
With electric workers and emergency crews,
With all who reach out to neighbours with your love and compassion.
Protect and guide them in the midst of danger and of strife.
Lord God almighty
Go before, and behind,
Be beside and above,
May all find shelter in the embrace of your love.
(Christine Sine, Godspacelight)

Prayer in Times of Violence and Fear
Almighty, all-merciful God,
through Christ Jesus you have taught us to love one another,
to love our neighbors as ourselves,
and even to love our enemies.
In times of violence and fear,
let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts,
so that we may not be overcome with evil
but overcome evil with good.
Help us to see each person in light of the love and grace
you have shown us in Christ.
Put away the nightmares of terror
and awaken us to the dawning of your new creation.
Establish among us a future where peace reigns,
justice is done with mercy, and all are reconciled.
We ask these things in the name
and for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Source: Prayers for Times of National and International Crisis and Tragedy, PCUSA website).

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan and UnitingWorld National Director Dr Sureka Goringe have written to churches in Indonesia to express sadness and solidarity after the tragic church bombings during Sunday worship in Surabaya, Java. 11 people were killed in the explosions and more than 43 were wounded in what has been called the worst terrorist attack in Indonesia in more than a decade. A congregation of our partner church in Java was one of those targeted, wounding an Elder and several young members. 
Almighty God, we come to you with our hearts full of thoughts.
But you are our refuge and strength,
the light in the darkness,
and so with confidence we offer our prayers to you.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We stand in solidarity with all good citizens in Java
pray for the churches of Catholic, Protestant, and Pentecostal traditions,
and we are confronted by the attacks on Christian worshipers.
We bring to you all the deceased,
and our trust that in God’s peace their souls find rest.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We pray for those who grieve the loss of life,
for those who are traumatized during Sunday worship,
for those who are separated from the loved ones and friends;
we ask for your healing presence in their lives
and we commend to your love all the injured.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We give to your care all those
who have been involved in the rescue operation.
Be with local churches and government forces
as they minister to the suffering communities.
Sustain them through this time of stress.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We commend to your care those who are cleaning up,
for those burdened by unimaginable losses
and who have found themselves
like refugees in their own locality.
We ask that the emotional and spiritual support
already offered by local communities and beyond
will encourage and lift their spirits.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We pray for communities that have been devastated
– especially in East Java and West Java.
May your peace bring people together
to rebuild their lives and communities,
and bring them healing from all evil.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We pray for families and friends in Australia
who feel far away from the loved ones in Indonesia,
and those who had been through racial and religious attacks
– still trying to make sense of the past.
Comfort them across the physical and emotional distance.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We give thanks to God for the blessing in our lives,
especially the gifts of joy we so often take for granted
until they are in danger of being taken away from us
the gift of family, friends, a home, our possessions.
Most of all we praise God for the gift of life itself.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
God of light over darkness,
come into our hearts in the moment of now!
Come to transform our sorrow over the lost
into blessings to the living.
Come to reassure us your eternal truth
in the resurrection of Christ Jesus:
Life is always stronger than death.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
(Source: Rev Dr Ji Zhang  张骥, Assembly Theologian in Residence, for our Partner Church GKI and Indonesian Communion of Churches. The prayer is rewritten based on the prayer of 2004 Asian Tsunami by Homebush Uniting Church)

We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit prays in us with sighs
too deep for words. —Romans 8.26
Deeper than my words,
deeper than my knowing,
Spirit, pray in me.
I open the door of my heart for you.
I hold the arms of my spirit open for you.
Welcome. Spirit, pray in me.
I only hold the space.
I do not hear your prayers,
your sighs too deep for my hearing.
I do not know how to pray.
I only know how to be still,
Spirit, as you pray in me.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Another school shooting – Lord have mercy. And more ‘thoughts and prayers’ and ‘thoughts and condolences’. Mike Rayson reflects: “Thoughts and prayers” are not enough for those who follow Jesus. The following text, written to the tune Hyfrodol (Come Thou Long Expected Jesus – UMH 196) is in response to the latest school shooting onValentines Day 2018 in Florida. You are free to use it, this Sunday or any other day. Please attribute the name of the writer: (c) 2018 Rev Mike Rayson, O.S.L –

(c) 2018 Rev Mike Rayson, O.S.L –
Hymn Tune: Hyfrodol (UMH 196)
Meter D

On the road toward the city
We shall ride into the pain
Of a death we know is coming
For to die is life to gain
Jesus, teacher, friend, companion
Though this road is rough and steep
We’ll go with you through the valley
Even when the shadows weep

Madness, mayhem, curse and trouble
Hold your breath as fire draws near
Thoughts and prayers are well intentioned
Lest we face the tempters fear
May the weapons of our children
Be reformed as tools for peace
Holy Spirit, call us forward
To a time when war will cease

Lord, the saints are sad with sorrow
Spur us on and light the way
Walking where the path is narrow
Give us strength to be the change
Turn our hollow prayers to action
As we stand against the dark
For when your light blazes in us
There can be no brighter spark

On the road toward the city
We shall ride toward the pain
Of a death we know is coming
For to die is life to gain
Jesus, teacher, friend, companion
Though this road is rough and steep
We’ll go with you through the valley
Even when the shadows weep

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.
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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

(A sermon preached after Sandy Hook (2012) – ‘Kicking the Darkness Until it Bleeds Daylight’, Community Christian Church, Springfield)

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: Website:

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,

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

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

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.
(Source: The Rev. Dr. Laurie A Kraus)

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.
[Adapted from a Prayer by Christian Aid]

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




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.
(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 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: New Hymns:

See sheet music here.


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)

st aug
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.”
(Source: Pastor Shannon Diana Keeney, First United Methodist Church – Littleton, NH.

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 (“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: New Hymns:
Permission is given for free use by local churches and in ecumenical services.

When aimless violence takes those we love
Tune: 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

AMEMindful 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.
(adapted from an original by

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)
I pray to you, Lord! Please listen.
Don’t hide from me in my time of trouble
Pay 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.

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

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


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



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

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.


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.


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

Song: Eye Has Not Seen Marty Haugen

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.


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.

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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