Prayer for After Another School Shooting
[This prayer is based on one I delivered in 2009 for the mass shooting in Binghamton, NY where I live. It pains me to point out that with a simple alteration of the first paragraph’s details, the prayer is suitable for other mass shootings as well.]
May 20, 2018
We are broken, O God. We are broken. We gather in vigil again to mourn the death of school children and school teachers. On Friday, a young man entered the Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, killed 10 people, physically injured 10 others, and spiritually shattered countless lives in that community and across the country.
Death and violence are the reasons that draw us together in sorrow, in anger, in anxious grief and loss. Each of us has been touched by this or another recent shooting, some in a small way, others in overwhelming ways. We gather together now to declare our allegiance to something stronger than violence and anger and even death. O God we are broken, we long for healing and for hope.
Eternal Spirit, Loving God, Gracious One: we call on you in different ways and with different names, yet each in our own way – we call. We pray for strength; we pray for healing. We pray for the victims of violence. We pray for the perpetrators of violence. We pray for our community broken open in sorrow. We pray for our leaders, for our first responders, and for the families and friends who must live with this into the next day and the next. We pray for the peacemakers and the healers. We pray for the teachers. We pray for all those who seek a better way.
Grant us the courage to reject vengeance. Grant us the courage to choose to heal what is broken and to redeem what cannot be healed, and to rebuild ourselves as a community of strength and hope. Grant that we will be known not by our loss or by the violence of a moment, but rather by our loving response. This I pray in the name of all that is holy, may it be so. Blessed be and amen.
From Whom all things come
And to Whom all things return.
We gather this hour as a community of faith
seeking to transform our world through prayer and action.
seeking to transform our lives through justice and beauty and righteousness.
We pause together to reflect.
We reflect upon our times, our culture, and ourselves.
We reflect upon the needs of all people,
and upon our own needs and those of the people we love.
And yet, we gather this way every week,
and every week we work for and pray for
goodness and righteousness to triumph.
Every week we speak of the power of hope and of justice.
Every week we take one step more for peace.
And yet, every week there is registered in the media and in our lives
more tragedy, more injustice, more suffering.
And yet, every week the injustice and assault continue or rise anew.
O Spirit, hear our cry!
Help us to find hope against the embittering despair
to find strength to act in the face of continued injustice and apathy.
to find courage to still believe in those ideals of justice and beauty and righteousness.
Help us to reach out from our very being to transform the world
and to be transformed in ourselves.
Help us to know, despite the messy complexity of life,
that we do not labor in vain,
that peace will one day prevail,
that perseverance will be rewarded
and that hope is a powerful response in the face of such difficulty.
Be thou an ever present strength on the journey, O Spirit.
This we pray to the name of all that is holy
May it be so
Prayer: May Nothing Evil Cross This Door (Hymn #1, SLT)
Eternal Spirit, from whom all things come and to all things return
We gather in community this morning with hope and gratitude
We sing our potent hymn of prayer for our community:
May nothing evil cross this door.
So much of the world beyond our doors is fraught
with suffering, hardship, Cruelty, bigotry and hate.
We prayer that evil, remains out there, beyond our walls
Here, we sing, we shall be safe.
Here, we sing, we shall sanctify every casual corner
and peace shall walk through our hallways.
Here, we sing, the roar and rain will go by.
Yet we do not have a gate on our door to bar evil or the flood of rain and river.
O Spirit we have no gate at our door
when we sing of nothing evil crossing our door.
We hold our door with prayer and with promise.
And when our doors and walls are breached by tragedy and evil, when the doors and walls of our homes and the homes of our friends and loved ones are breached as they were this week by flood waters, as they were ten years ago by the tragedy of the September 11th terrorist attack,
What can we do, but sing again and pray again and promise again.
We hold our door with prayer and promise.
And indeed these sheltering walls are thin,
yet they are strong enough to keep hate out and hold love in
O Spirit when trouble moves into our homes and across our doors may we be graceful enough to continue to reach out – to reach out and help others and to reach out to receive the help of others.
O Spirit that moves through our hearts
and kindles the conscience to allow truth and compassion to reside therein,
help us to keep our walls strong and our doors open that all may come
and receive the blessings that are held here.
May all who come through our doors know the peace that walks softly
through our halls and through our hearts.
May our walls be strong enough.
And may we be strong enough to keep hate out and hold love in.
In the name of all that is holy,
May it be so
From whom all things come and to whom all things return
We gather this hour seeking meaning and understanding for our living.
This is our house of faith; this is our hour of worship;
We are a people of many beliefs together as one faith.
We are seekers of peace and light;
sifting through the moments of today
with an eye toward the eternal values that undergird life.
For the blessings of this day, the gathering of these good people,
and for the joys of simple things: we give thanks.
For songs that lift us up and for companions that carry us on:
we raise our voices in thanksgiving.
And for the revival of faith and trust in the face of the tides of life:
let us remember to give thanks indeed!
Help us to respond to life’s gifts with a generosity of spirit
Help us to meet differences and challenges
with an openness and a willingness
Let life’s melody rise and fall with us
Let the rhythm of love roll through our days
Let the music of the universe echo through our steps
And may our songs of our people
be songs of courage, respect, justice, and love
This we ask in the name of all that is holy
May it be so.