On this September 11th – a Hymn and a Prayer

Photo by ejpphoto on Flickr

It is hard to believe that is has been 11 years since that surreal morning when the world’s attention was focused on the attack on the United States. Watching the looping images of planes flying into the World Trade Center, the attempts at trying to understand what was happening and the subsequent turmoil that as arguably altered the very nature of politics in the United States, 9/11 must be remembered with care and grace as we continued to deal with the aftermath.

We will never get beyond the politics and rhetoric of our collective 9/11 responses, but there is a time to pause, to remember and to grieve. As one who has been impacted by the tragic death of a family member, the implications on ones life and spirit never go away. Pain may ease, memories wane and emotions temper, but the loss is constant.  With this in mind, I offer up two resources that touched me this morning.

The first is a hymn from hymn writer, Carolyn Winfrey Gillette:

O God, Our Words Cannot Express
ST. ANNE (8.6.8.6) (Our God, Our Help in Ages Past)

O God, our words cannot express
The pain we feel this day.
Enraged, uncertain, we confess
Our need to bow and pray.

We grieve for all who lost their lives…
And for each injured one.
We pray for children, husbands, wives
Whose grief has just begun.

O Lord, we’re called to offer prayer
For all our leaders, too.
May they, amid such great despair,
Be wise in all they do.

We trust your mercy and your grace;
In you we will not fear!
May peace and justice now embrace!
Be with your people here!

Carolyn has published two hymn collections, Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor and Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today’s Worship. You can find hymn notes as well as her other work on her website, www.carolynshymns.com. You can also like her on Facebook.

There are also many meaningful prayers out there for folks to use in worship or for personal devotion. My own denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has 9/11 Worship and Liturgy resources to download as does the National Council of Churches. Here is a prayer offered as part of a 10th anniversary liturgy of remembrance written by Rev. Dr. Eileen Lindner, pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Tenafly, N.J and the Rev. Jon Brown, a Presbyterian minister and Pastor of the Old Bergen Church, Jersey City, N.J.

Unison Prayer

God of all creation, our hearts are broken over the destruction and loss we remember this day. And we acknowledge, O Lord, that on that day of human carnage yours was the first heart to break.

In our remembering, may we stand with those who mourn and those who cannot stop mourning. Through remembering, may we find new comfort in your care. In our remembering may we be drawn to a new hope for the whole world, and may we gain for ourselves a measure of your peace.

You who can turn the shadow of night into the bright promise of a new day, empower us to shape a world marked by ways of life that lead to justice and peace for all peoples. Fashion in us a people who are more ready to grow in understanding than eager to judge those who are different from us. Form us as a people determined to heal wounds rather than inflict them.

We pray at last that you would cultivate such love in us that we may reach out in compassion to all those who are still wounded by the events of that day; and in seeking to heal others, may we experience a love that makes us whole.

This we pray in the strong name of Jesus our Christ. Amen

Please feel free to share other resources, prayers and reflections this day. Again, there is always space for the politics and debate, but on this day, let us simply pause, remember and grieve.

A Prayer of Confession for Political People of Faith

[Photo by Amarand Agasi]

The past few weeks have been a roller coaster of reactions and emotions for those who are invested in the conversations about immigration and immigration reform in the United States. Personally, I was very excited about President Obama’s Executive Order halting the deportation of undocumented young people who arrived as children. Likewise, while I am glad that the Supreme Court set aside some aspects of Arizona’s immigration law, I still worry about ramifications of document checking that will go on in Arizona.

As I began to reflect on recent immigration developments, there were so many ways I could have gone. I initially began with a post about why I support and do not support recent developments and in the middle of some snarky commentary about teenagers’ ability to stand up to their parents, I realized that maybe this was not what I needed to be writing right now.  There are certainly times that I will need to speak/write with passion and fervor about such things, but for a person of faith like myself, I needed to take a moment and resist adding to the dehumanizing rhetoric that so often defines political debate.

This boy needed to take some time to come to God in prayer.

So . . . sitting in a Grand Island, NE cafe, of all places, I offer this prayer of confession:

God of all humanity, Your people come to You in prayer.

Remind us of Your calling to be your passionate, gracious and faithful servants in the world.

When we forget our own history and story,
Forgive us.

When we do not welcome the stranger,
Forgive us.

When we do not honor our neighbor,
Forgive us.

When we deny the humanity of any person,
Forgive us.

When our passion turns to persecution,
our anger turns to animosity
and righteousness turns to wrath
Forgive us.

When we repay evil with evil with our minds, hearts or hands
Forgive us.

Be with your people in our passionate actions of faith,
have mercy on us when we falter
and renew our spirits for the journey

Amen.

I do not fancy myself a particularly creative liturgist, so please feel free to liberate, adapt and change any or all parts of this prayer.

May the peace of Christ be with you all.


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