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Finding Words for Unspeakable Tragedy:
Resources for Ecumenical and Interfaith Worship and Prayer
People around the nation and around the globe are taking their grief, fear and even anger to God in prayer, seeking the enduring answers of faith. While the attacks have left gaping losses in our lives and increased our sense of vulnerability, many take refuge in God's love, and they are strengthened.
Clergy and lay leaders of all faiths are ministering to their congregations in critically important ways in this time of crisis. They and their congregations are also reaching out to others in their community, making the powerful statement that God is One and that God asks all people in the whole of Creation to care for one another.
Around the United States, people of faith are making available worship ideas and materials for such occasions, including the following sources.
The following litany was part of the Interfaith Service of National Mourning held September 12 at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral (Episcopal). You may use all or parts of the litany as long as you give credit to the Rev. Sue Singer, Education Coordinator, Diocese of California and the Rev. Mark Stanger, Canon Precentor.
The following litany was originally written in 1979 by the Rev. Canon Lloyd Casson for the first anniversary service of The InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington. It made a poignant contribution to the interfaith service that the Conference sponsored on September 13 at the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C. While the Conference holds the copyright to the litany, it has said, "People are welcome to use it or modify it for their use as long as credit is given to the source."
To Our Common Cause:
A litany of the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington
In an era when the forces of division and decay abound, we as religious communities in the metropolitan Washington area have dared to come together.
Baha'i, Hindu-Jain, Islamic, Jewish, Latter-day Saints, Protestant, Roman Catholic and Sikh, we have begun to listen together to the spirit within our varied and venerable traditions.
A conviction of the fundamental unity of the human family under God and the equality and dignity of all human beings.
A sense of the value of human community.
A belief that love, compassion, selflessness, and the force of inner truthfulness and the spirit have ultimately greater power than hate, enmity, and inordinate self-interest.
Links to related resources from NCC member communions and partners
Prayers for victims and enemies in a time of war
Sid Lovett, Sr., 1916 Union Theological Seminary graduate, wrote a series of prayers during World War II and the Korean War with a timeless message. This small excerpt is from Chapter 12 of Uncle Sid of Yale, published by Yale University, 1981: Library of Congress catalog #81-51566
A Prayer for Innocent Victims
Almighty God, for the sake of whose Holy Child Jesus the children of Bethlehem suffered cruel death: have mercy, we beseech Thee, upon all those who innocently endure grief or pain, suffering wrongfully; and in all their afflictions incline Thine ear to hear them, and send the angel of Thy presence to console and save them; through Him who did no sin but bore our sins in His own body on the tree, Thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
A Prayer for Our Enemies
O God, Who art kind unto the unthankful and to the evil, and sendest Thy rain on the just and the unjust: send forth into our minds, we beseech Thee, the spirit of Thy Son, whereby we may acknowledge Thee to be the Father of all men, and may from our hearts pray for our enemies, not that their will, but Thine, be accomplished in them, even as we pray that Thy will and not ours be done in us. So shall we all be children of the Highest, abounding in hope through the power of the same Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
A Bidding Prayer in Wartime
I bid you pray for that joy which is of a pure and clean heart, a consecrated life, that we may love God, obey His will and walk in His way in this our eternal life.
I bid you pray for all men: especially those who are afflicted in mind, body or estate: those whose lives are broken and disrupted by the cruel impact of war, that they may be strengthened by the love of God Who suffers with them, and by His patience be relieved according to their several necessities.
I bid you pray for this University, that we may love truth and earnestly seek knowledge wherewith to serve God and His Kingdom; that we may be alive to every motion of Gods Holy Spirit; that we may redeem time sufficient for the nurture of our souls, that we may comport ourselves daily as those to whom much has been given and of whom much shall be required.
I bid you pray for our nation, both its citizens and all in authority, that we may be a people living in the love of God and in peace with all men, each secure in the liberty which is his heritage: none without the means of livelihood and a just reward for honest labor, all mindful of our common duty to build here and now the Kingdom of God.
I bid you pray for Christs Holy Church: that it may be strengthened in faith, in holiness of life and love, as it does His service in bringing all men everywhere to the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ our Lord.
I bid you pray for peace, for which the whole creation is in travail at the present moment: for that concord of nations that shall enrich all and impoverish none, for that day when men shall be done with war and come to live like sons in their Fathers house.
Finally, I bid you labor for these good things till that labor is fulfilled and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. Amen.