When we don’t know what else to do

Responding to the March 20 shooting at Great Mills, our local high school, a number of faith communities in St. Mary’s County, Maryland came together for a Community Prayer Service at Ascension, Lexington Park.  The location and time were picked.  We knew we needed to be together.  We knew we needed to hear scripture, sing hymns, say prayers, and turn to God and one another. But then, at some point in the middle of the afternoon, I realized I had no idea what to say, what to pray. My wife, Iman, sent me a beautiful litany written by the Rev’d Laura Everett.  Written after 2013’s Boston Marathon Bombing, click here to find it on Building Faith, a ministry of the Virginia Seminary.

Ascension Prayer Wall 3
The Prayer Wall at Ascension, Lexington Park

Below is the litany we used at Ascension on Tuesday evening, March 20, 2018, slightly adapted from the Rev’d Everett’s original.  Somewhere between our need to bring about real change in the public sphere and the kind of crippling hopelessness that wonders ‘Why here?’ is a deeper Christian conviction, and one we need to keep tapping into.  This litany says as much as it begins: “This is what we do when we don’t know what else to do. We cling to one another, voice our grief, and offer up our prayers to God. Please join in the response … “


 

This is what we do when we don’t know what else to do. We cling to one another, voice our grief, and offer up our prayers to God. Please join in the response.  When we say, “Gracious God,” we invite your response: Heal and Renew Us, O God

We pray for those injured, those who have died.  May the God of Life welcome them into that place where there is no pain or grief.  In this hour of darkness, surround their families with a peace that passes all understanding.  Gracious God, Heal and Renew Us, O God

Ascension Prayer Wall 1We pray for the wounded.  Those wounded in their bodies.  Our community and all who have been wounded by the events of this day. Our eyes have seen more than they should.  Our hearts are rended open.  Attend to the wounded bodies and spirits of the survivors. Gracious God, Heal and Renew Us, O God

We pray for the EMTs, doctors, nurses and staff who tend to brokenness. Bind up their unseen wounds. Make steady shaky hands, mend broken hearts and wipe away every tear. Gracious God, Heal and Renew Us, O God

We pray for the police, fire and emergency personnel who risk their own safety to preserve ours. In a time of chaos and uncertainty, O God, steady those who protect us. For generations, you have been our refuge and our strength.  Gracious God, Heal and Renew Us, O God

We pray for our counselors, clergy and mental health professionals. May they guide troubled minds and broken spirits. Bless those who devote themselves to the care of others. Give them strength for the long days ahead. Gracious God, Heal and Renew Us, O God

We pray for the media, our reporters and photographers. We give thanks for those who strive to share stories of suffering and hope. Gracious God, Heal and Renew Us, O God

We pray for all the students, teachers, and staff of our local schools, and all schools and places of learning.  Give them comfort and courage to name their struggles and delight in seeking one another’s love, and yours. Gracious God, Heal and Renew Us, O God

We pray for our children startled by such chaos in our community today. Give us wisdom to raise them up in the paths of peace. Be with our County’s parents, teachers and child care providers who try to answer the questions of anxious children. Gracious God, Heal and Renew Us, O GodAscension Prayer Wall 2

We pray for the FBI, the investigators and all who guide our justice system. Help us not seek vengeance but truth and justice.  Gracious God, Heal and Renew Us, O God

We pray for the perpetrators of violence. We confess the dark places in our own hearts that lust for revenge. Give us a love stronger than hate and a peace stronger than violence. May peace flow through our community like the rivers which frame our places. Gracious God, Heal and Renew Us, O God

Convict us to rise above the hatred that wrought such violence. Guide us to resist gossip and rumor. Preserve us from quick judgments. Give us wisdom in the days ahead. Reveal to us peace and truth. Gracious God, Heal and Renew Us, O God

We pray for our County Commissioners, our Governor, Senators, Representatives, and all elected officials. Give them gentle words and wise hearts in the days ahead. Gracious God, Heal and Renew Us, O God

Train our eyes to see acts of kindness in our community. Prod our hands to reach out to strangers. Silence our tongues when we are tempted to lash out in frustration and fear. Give us all words of comfort and love. Gracious God,  Heal and Renew Us, O God

Give us the courage to endure what cannot be avoided. Bring us hope that we will be made equal with whatever lies ahead. Knit us together, neighbors and friends.  Draw near to us in this time of sorrow. Gracious God, Heal and Renew Us, O God

Even as we grieve, we will remain steadfast in charity, defiant in hope, and constant in prayer. Though the race before us this day is hard, remind us again and again, that we do not take a single step alone. Gracious God, Heal and Renew Us, O God.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s