A Liturgy for the Sept. 11 Anniversary

One of the challenges I’ve had in my ordination journey is to live within the liturgy, so I’ve taken extra care since meeting with my commission on ministry in July to seek out ways that I can think more liturgically as preparation for the priesthood.

So as an exercise in thinking liturgically, I prepared a Eucharistic liturgy for the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. As a word of disclaimer, this liturgy is not being used by my parish and is not intended to reflect my parish or even my ministry at my parish. Rather, it is an effort to begin to think liturgically about my faith and, specifically in this case, the events surrounding 9/11.

That being said, anyone is more than welcome to use this liturgy if they find it meaningful and appropriate. To download the complete worship booklet, click here.

Here are two prayers I wrote for the liturgy, one a collect and one for the prayers of the people:

A Collect for Sept. 11

“O God, you have commanded us to turn our enemies into neighbors with the love of self-sacrifice and to forgive those who have wronged us seventy times seven. Teach us to be bold in this most difficult of tasks; Following the example of Christ, who healed us by his wounds, give us also the strength to reach beyond our anger and our hate to thereby pull forth peace, grace and creative healing from the painful depths of our own wounds. Amen”

Prayers of the People (closing)

O God, who made us in your image, who comforts and weeps with us, create in us holy spirits that respond to pain with compassion, enlarge our hearts so that we may weave hope from the torn fabric of tragedies, grant us strength and courage to offer forgiveness to all as you have so graciously forgiven us. In our pain, may we not forge swords, but ploughshares. In tragedy, may we not despair, but, through your Spirit, create good news, hope and peace for a broken world. In the name of your son, our Savior, who has commanded us to forgive in the infinity of his love for us. Amen.

Thanks for reading and, if you have a moment, offer feedback on the liturgy. If you do use the liturgy, please let me know at  I would love to know how it went. (Find me on Facebook (often), Twitter (seldom) or Google+ (mostly). Or e-mail me at unorthodoxology (at) gmail (dot) com.)

David Henson is a writer living in Augusta, Ga, and currently working on a novel in between my duties as a youth director at a local Episcopal church, member of the Religious Progressive Coalition of Augusta and tending my two young sons while my wife toils away as a medical school student. He is also in the process of ordination in the Episcopal Church through the Diocese of Northern California.

About David Henson

David Henson is a writer who lives in Augusta, Georgia, and is currently working on a novel. He received his Master of Arts from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. His meditations on scripture have appeared in Ready the Way: A Walk through Advent (2009), the Christian Century web site, and numerous other blogs. He blogs regularly at Patheos. You can find him there, as well as on Twitter or Facebook.

  • Miranda

    Nice work, David! I may use the first one; I appreciate how you’ve tied it to the day’s Gospel. Lovely, powerful language.

  • Mike Poteet

    I was especially struck by the Litany for the Dead. I find myself surprised at the visceral reaction I had to the idea of praying for the 19 hijackers by name, even ten years later. I think we are right, of course, to do so; and connecting the litany to the language of the Gospel reading communicates that fact; still, I’d be curious to hear how it would be received in a congregation.

    I commend you for putting this litany together. I think it is quite strong and, in my opinion, altogether an appropriate and faithful response.

    My only other wondering is whether a specially written liturgy for 9/11/11 turns the day into being more about the anniversary of the terror attacks than the weekly “anniversary” of the Resurrection. But I know it is very much on people’s minds and hearts, and I think your texts would serve many needs if used. Thanks for sharing your work with us.

  • http://davidrhenson.wordpress.com David Henson

    Thanks Miranda. Please do use whatever you find meaningful and helpful! I am honored.

  • http://davidrhenson.wordpress.com David Henson

    That is an excellent critique, Mike, and something I’ll be pondering. I’d be curious how the litany of the dead would be received in a congregation as well.

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