Service of Lament for Gun Violence
*This service may be used in its entirety as a regular service or template for a prayer vigil. In addition, individual elements may be used in Sunday morning worship.
Call to Worship
One: God our Creator, we gather in rage and sorrow, uncertainty and disbelief, resignation and resolve.
Many: Hear our cries, Holy One, hear our pleas for fortitude, mercy, and restoration.
One: Our pain overwhelms us, and we need your presence, power, and peace.
Many: For peace, O God, is illusive when we live in a world addicted to and cowered by violence.
One: While others cling to the weapons of war, we will trust in your name.
Many: Your Name is Holy Love, Redeemer, Everlasting, God with Us.
One: We sit and stand in solidarity as a people united against gun violence in this and in all communities.
Many: Giver of Life is near the brokenhearted and the crushed in spirit.
Loving God, we hunger and thirst for righteousness. We long for the fulfillment of the promise of life abundantly. We wonder where you are and what you are doing as we face senseless gun violence yet another time. It’s too much, and we need you to be with us and go before us as we travel in the valley of the shadow of death. Comfort us and hold us in your care. Make your presence among us known. You are our God, and we, your people, are hurting. Help us. Heal us. Deliver us. In the name of the Risen and Scarred Messiah, we pray. Amen.
Welcome and Introduction
Word and Response
*This service uses Living Psalm 13, a creative and faith-filled adaptation of Psalm 13, but another scripture, set of scripture passages, Living Psalm or other reading may be used. The passage is divided into sections. After each passage, invite the gathered to reflect and respond. It is important to be sensitive to the composition of your group. You may pre-determine who will speak or you may leave that open. Silence is an appropriate response. Acknowledge each person who shares their reflections.
Living Psalm 13
How long of God? How long?
How long must we endure the pain of gun violence in our communities?
How long must we add another place to the list:
Columbine, Sandy Hook, Pulse Nightclub, Buffalo, and now __?
Have you forgotten us? Have we forgotten you?
The sorrow and despair is unbearable.
We are shaken and disturbed from our daily lives.
Our leaders fail to act.
Organized interests wield their power to obstruct
any attempt to make our schools, houses of worship,
retail outlets, parking lots, bowling alleys and restaurants
safe spaces to gather and to live.
Our hearts break for those we have lost due to gun violence.
We hear the cries of parents, siblings, neighbors, and friends.
We mourn the milestones that will never be met or witnessed.
We grieve knowing that this will not be the last time we grieve in this way.
We turn to you, our Comforter, with moans too deep for words
And words too needed to keep silent.
We do not mourn as a people without hope.
We hope for a future of political courage.
We hope because of a growing movement demanding change.
We proclaim your abiding love and relentless presence.
You are with us in our sorrow and know the sting of violent death.
We will rejoice again. We will trust in your safety.
We will find peace. We will make peace.
Prayers of Hope and Healing
*You may solicit prayers from the gathered as they arrive (on paper) or join an online service (in comments or chat). Alternatively, you may offer an extemporaneous prayer that responds to the sharing you have heard.
Blessing and Sending
May you be strengthened with all power. May you be comforted by a peace surpassing all understanding. May you be enveloped in the love of God, the hope of God, and the presence of God today and in the days to come.
Service of Lament for Gun Violence was written by Rev. Dr. Cheryl A. Lindsay, Minister for Worship and Theology, United Church of Christ.