A Liturgy for "O God Tender and Just"

“O God Tender and Just”

This liturgy was published on the first anniversary of 9-11 and has been adapted for the tenth anniversary. 

 

Call to Worship (Based on Psalm 122)

One: We were glad when then said, “Let us go to the house of God!”

All: Our feet are standing within your gates, O Holy City!

We pray for the peace of all God’s beloved cities:

“May they prosper who love you.

Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.”

One: For the sake of friend and stranger we say:

All: Peace be within you, O Jerusalem!

Peace be within you, O New York, O Washington, O Shanksville!

Peace be within you, O Kabul!

Peace be within this community!

For the sake of the house of the Holy One, our God, we will seek your good.

Let us worship the living God, tender and just!

 

Invocation

One: Let us pray:

O God, tender and just,

we come together today

to commemorate the events of September 11, 2001.

We come to mourn and be comforted,

to reflect and to be challenged;

to look toward the future and

to offer our labor to your reign of peace.

We come to know your will, O Holy One,

revealed to faithful people through the Bible, Torah, and Koran;

and disclosed to us, your faithful Christian people,

in our beloved Incarnate One, Jesus the Christ.

Come, Holy One, make of peace, in this hour.

Amen.

 

Hymn

 “Here the Voice of God, So Tender” (No. 174 – The New Century Hymnal)

 

Scriptures:

Genesis 50:15–21

Psalm 103

Romans 14:1–12

Matthew 18:21–35

 

Sermon

(The suggested readings for today are the lectionary readings for September 11, 2011, Proper 19, Year A.  They are stories of radical forgiveness and tolerance, woven together by Psalm 103, which insists, “God’s ways are not our ways.”  A sermon or meditation may focus on tensions between “our ways” and “God’s ways” in perceiving the claims of justice and mercy in times of confusion, conflict, and war. May it call the congregation to God’s way of healing, reconciliation, and justice.)

 

Silent Prayer

(Invite the congregation to reflect and pray in silence for several minutes on their experience of September 11, 2001 and how their feelings have changed in the past ten years.  During the silence, visuals may be shown that recall the event.  Care should be taken to show both tragedy and healing.)

 

Litany of Renewal: Mercy, Justice, Peace

(This litany is a prayer led jointly by music and worship leaders. Various individuals—children, youth and adults—may alternate reading the “One” portion of the litany.  The hymn “There Is a Balm in Gilead” number 553 in The New Century Hymnal, frames the litany.)

Sung: There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole,

there is a balm in Gilead, to heal the sinsick soul.

Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my work’s in vain,

But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.

There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole,

there is a balm in Gilead, to heal the sinsick soul.

One: Let us pray:

On all who continue to grieve

and all who died in the events of September 11th and its aftermath,

All: Jesus, pour mercy.

One: On those whose homes, livelihood, and psychological

well-being were destroyed or compromised,

All: Jesus, pour mercy.

One: On those displaced.

All: Jesus, pour mercy.

One: On the devastation of city and countryside both in this country and throughout the world.

All: Jesus, pour mercy.

Sung: There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole,

there is a balm in Gilead, to heal the sinsick soul.

One: And so we pray:

When we give a death-dealing interpretation to your word of grace,

All: Jesus, awaken justice.

One: When we bind up our own wounds only, and forget the suffering of stranger,

All: Jesus, awaken justice.

One: When in our fear we retreat and isolate,

All: Jesus, awaken justice.

One: When we seek security only based on military might and not on right-relationships among peoples,

All: Jesus, awaken justice.

Sung: There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole,

there is a balm in Gilead, to heal the sinsick soul.

One: And so we pray:

That all who continue to suffer may heal and the nations of the world will find peace;

All: Jesus, we labor with you.

One: That growing understanding among faithful peoples will lead to a shared vision of peace;

All: Jesus, we labor with you.

One: That profound cooperation among nations, which share God’s earth, may lead to structures of peace;

All: Jesus, we labor with you.

One: That oppressive economic and military structures may be transformed and structures may grow that lead to peace;

All: Jesus, we labor with you.

O God, hear our hopes and make us faithful in your way of love and justice.

In your name, Jesus, the make of peace, Amen.

 

Sung: There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole,

there is a balm in Gilead, to heal the sinsick soul.

Don’t ever feel discouraged, for Jesus is your friend,

who, if you ask for knowledge, will never fail to lend.

There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole,

there is a balm in Gilead, to heal the sinsick soul.

 

Holy Communion

 

Closing Hymn

“We Would Be Building” (No. 607 – The New Century Hymnal)

 

Benediction

“The World Peace Prayer”

One: Lead us, O God:

All: Lead us from death to life,

from falsehood to truth.

Lead us from despair to hope,

from fear to trust;

lead us from hate to love, from war to peace.

Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe.  Amen.

(May also be sung as found in The New Century Hymnal, number 581.)

 

The liturgy was originally prepared by the Rev. Susan A. Blain, who, on September 11, 2001, was the worship coordinator of Riverside Church in New York City, and now serves as the Minister for Worship, Liturgy, and Spiritual Formation at the United Church of Christ in Cleveland, Ohio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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