The task and challenge of putting words to the rhythm of our corporate life is an honor and a privilege. And sometimes, many times this year, in fact, that task is so difficult. Sundays come with a stunning regularity, and Sundays like this past Sunday–that come on the heels of terror and fear and pain in our world–offer the special challenge of finding words to express the grief and pain and fear and bewilderment, to call on God to comfort and save us. This past Sunday, our congregation paused for silence, joined our voices in song, and prayed together. Here are the words to a prayer we heard in worship, inspired by the prayer Pope Francis prayed at the 9/11 Memorial on his recent visit to New York City.
O God of love, compassion and healing, look on us, people of many different perspectives and traditions, faiths, even, who gather today in this place, desperately in need of your presence.
O God of peace, turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred and who justify killing in the name of religion. We pray for our righteous and peace loving Muslim brothers and sisters around the world, for we know how it feels when our faith is used as justification for terror, perverted into ideology we do not recognize or endorse. Bring your peace to our violent world; peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the earth.
O God of understanding, overwhelmed by the magnitude and pervasiveness of these tragedies, we seek your light and guidance as we confront this evil. We pray for the people Beirut and Baghdad and Paris today; grant that all of us whose lives were spared may live so that the lives lost may not have been lost in vain.
O God, whose light will banish the darkness, comfort and console us, strengthen us in hope, and give us wisdom and courage to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign among nations and in the hearts of all.