Gracious God, you walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We pray that the suffering and terrorized be surrounded by the incarnate presence of the crucified and risen one. May every human being be reminded of the precious gift of life you entered to share with us. May our hearts be pierced with compassion for those who suffer, and for those who have inflicted this violence, for your love is the only healing balm we know. May the dead be received into your enfolding arms, and may your friends show the grieving they are not alone as they walk this vale of tears. All this we pray in the name of the one who walked the road to Calvary.
The following is an initial pastoral letter to the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana and to anyone seeking a word of hope and consolation.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Like you I am reeling from the news coming from Boston. Innocent people have been killed and many more have been injured by bombs timed to explode as the Boston Marathon was coming to a close. First responders reacted with heroic speed, and now medical personnel apply their skilled hands to saving and healing those who survived. Families, friends, the country, and much of the world watch and pray tonight.
Let us join them in prayer. Prayers for those who have entered into eternal life and for those fighting to recover. Prayers for the first responders and medical teams. Prayers for those who wait anxiously for word that their loved one is okay. Prayers for those whose hearts are rent by grief.
Earlier today I shared prayers on Facebook from Unapologetically Episcopalian. I share these rich Anglican prayers with you now and ask you to join me in lifting them to the Lord:
• Prayer for Victims of Terrorism
Loving God, Welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism. Comfort their families and all who grieve for them. Help us in our fear and uncertainty, And bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love. Strengthen all those who work for peace, And may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts. Amen.
• A Prayer for First Responders
Blessed are you, Lord, God of mercy, who through your Son gave us a marvelous example of charity and the great commandment of love for one another. Send down your blessings on these your servants, who so generously devote themselves to helping others. Grant them courage when they are afraid, wisdom when they must make quick decisions, strength when they are weary, and compassion in all their work. When the alarm sounds and they are called to aid both friend and stranger, let them faithfully serve you in their neighbor. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. — adapted from the Book of Blessings, #587, by Diana Macalintal
• For the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority
O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of Massachusetts, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
• For Peace
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
• A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
As we face this terrible tragedy, let us remember the unquenchable love with which God holds us all. I invite us to respond to such evil and malice with the sure and certain hope of God’s sovereign mercy rather than the fear and hatred intended by the perpetrators of this wicked act.
In the midst of sorrow, let us hold those dear to us. Tell them that we love them. I love you all and draw comfort from belonging to this beloved community of Christ followers. Bless you all.
In Christ’s Love,
As the news breaks of the tragedy in Boston, we open our hearts to God in prayer. Just over 4 months ago, with the shootings in sandy hook, we felt the pain and agony of violence come into our diocese, breaking open the agony and suffering that violence enacts in our lives. Today that ache is opened again as our neighbors in Boston, while celebrating our country with an annual patriots day marathon, were victims of violence.
As we hear the news, may we recommit ourselves to the work of peace in the world. Our God offers hope to the world in the resurrection. May we offer that hope to our friends and neighbors, walking with them in love.
We your bishops invite you to open your churches for prayer and to be a available to one another for comfort and conversation.
The prayer below is from the Rev. Jonathan Folts of St. John’s, Essex:
This evening, Fr. Keith and I ask you to please join us in prayer for all those who have been killed and injured by the explosions which took place in Boston; for those families and friends who are anxiously awaiting news of those whom they know were there; for the police officers and for all first responders who rushed towards the explosions while everyone else was running in the opposite direction; and for the medical personnel at the hospitals who received the injured and disabled.
May the prayers we pray this night be turned into transformative acts which bring God’s comfort, God’s healing, and God’s strength to bear in a world so seemingly bent on chaos.