Community Loss Ceremonial Prayers

Gathering
What are we to say,
except that it is not our own wisdom which will make sense of all that has happened today,
but a wisdom which knows the hearts of us all.

What are we to say,
except that it is not our own heart alone that will give us strength and courage,
but the hearts of those with whom we share community and faith.

What are we to say
except that it is not our will alone which will see us through the confusion and pain of these days,
but the will of the One whose ways are
compassion and comfort,
reconciliation and peace,
forgiveness and understanding.

O Lord, when I am bewildered and the world is all noise and confusion around me and I don't know which way to go and am frightened, then be thou with me. Put thy hand on my shoulder and let thy strength invade my weakness and thy light burn the mist from my mind. Help me to step forward with faith in the way I should go.

Prayer (Howard Thurman 1900- 1981)
Lord, open unto me
Open unto me ? light for my darkness.
Open unto me ? courage for my fear.
Open unto me ? hope for my despair.
Open unto me ? peace for my turmoil.
Open unto me ? joy for my sorrow.
Open unto me ? strength for my weakness.
Open unto me ? wisdom for my confession.
Open unto me ? forgiveness for my sins.
Open unto me ? love for my hates.
Open unto me ? thy Self for my self.
Lord, Lord, open unto me! Amen.

* Hymn: O God, Our Help in Ages Past

Reading: Psalm 130

A Time of Prayer
Let us pray for the world that is immeasurable, a society of millions of people and newspapers full of news.

Silence...Strong and Present God, hear our prayer.

Let us pray for the smaller world around us: for the people who belong to us, for the members of our families, our friends and those who share our worries, and those who depend on us.

Silence...Strong and Present God, hear our prayer.

Let us pray for the leaders of governments, and those whose words and actions will influence the situation in our world ? that they will not tolerate injustice, neither will they perpetrate it; that they will not seek refuge in violence, or make rash or ill-considered decisions about the futures of other people.

Silence...Strong and Present God, hear our prayer.

Let us also pray for all who live in the shadow of world events, for those from whose plight the attention of the world is often and easily diverted: the hungry, the poor, the broken, and the unloved.

Silence...Strong and Present God, hear our prayer.

Let us pray for all those whose commitment to faith urges them to earnestly seek a common peace and a common justice.

Silence...Strong and Present God, hear our prayer.

Let us pray for all those, of all faiths, who abhor the way of violence that they may join together in spirit and action to rededicate themselves to the way of peace.

Silence...Strong and Present God, hear our prayer.

Let us pray for those families and communities whose loved ones have been horribly and tragically ripped from their lives.

Silence...Strong and Present God, hear our prayer.

Let us pray for ourselves, that our confusion, fear, anger and vulnerability might not so overwhelm us that we become defined by our weaknesses, but through the strength of our faith, might know the strength to overcome weakness with clarity, confidence, and compassion.

Silence...Strong and Present God, hear our prayer.

A Time of Silence for Reflection, Meditation, and Prayer

A Common Prayer for Peace
Eternal God, our present and eternal strength,
our help in times of trouble:
show us the path of reconciliation and peace.

May threats not multiply
or power be used without compassion.

May your will overrule human willfulness,
so that mutual understanding may triumph and common good is our only good.

Hold back those who are impulsive,
lest desire for vengeance overwhelm our common welfare.

May we be bound together with those
    who seek peace on earth,
    and may we, as followers of Christ,
be agents of that peace even in difficult and tragic times. Amen

Reading: Psalm 46:1-7, 10-11

Hymn: O God of Every Nation

Benediction

The Lord who conquered darkness with light,
    give peace to you.
The Lord who conquered death with life,
    give peace to you.
The Lord who conquered loneliness with love,
    give you peace.
And the peace of the Lord
    be always with you.

 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Refrain
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Refrain
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Refrain
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Refrain
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Refrain
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Refrain
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Refrain
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Benediction

A benediction is a closing word. God's good word reminds us that it is better to light a candle than merely to curse darkness; that God's sure light shines in the darkness and that the darkness can never overcome it. Thus, after I bid you God's peace, I invite you to light a candle and take it with you as a pledge and a memorial that God's will will be done on earth as in heaven, and that rejoicing awaits those who take refuge in our God.

Dearly beloved friends, may God's everlasting peace be with you now, and give us all the spirit to face whatever we have to face, now and into tomorrow's tomorrows.
Amen. 

The above prayer is from the Rev. Paul Janssen, pastor of Pascack Reformed Church, and was used in a community service on Wednesday, September 12, 2001.

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