Thursday, December 20, 2012

Prayers from the Vigil for Newtown

It was good to gather on Sunday night at 5:00 for the Vigil to remember and to pray. Below is what we used to guide us in prayer; perhaps you would like to continue to use some of these prayer resources. 

PRAYER VIGIL Dec. 16, 2012
Wesley United Methodist Church

A word of welcome: you are welcome here. All are welcome here. Tonight we gather in the ancient practice of holding vigil. We watch and wait in hope, even as we grieve. We light candles to protest the darkness that pervades, especially the darkness that has befallen Newtown, CT. You may stand, or be seated. Be a part of this gathering as you feel comfortable. It is not necessary to close your eyes and bow your head for each prayer. You may prefer to look at the flickering candlelight, or at the stars, or at the leader. Do what feels comforting and right for you in the presence of God, as together we join our hearts in lament and prayer.

Everliving God, in Christ’s resurrection you turned the disciples despair into triumph, their sorrow into joy. Give us faith to believe that every good which seems to be overcome by evil, and every love that seems to be buried in death, shall rise again in life eternal; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you for ever more. Amen. (UMBOW164)

Matthew 2: 13-18
We remember this night the slaughter of the innocents that took place in Bethlehem after Jesus’ birth.

Now after the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
   “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation,
          Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled,
               because they are no more.”

We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents in Bethlehem by King Herod. We remember the slaughter of innocents in Newtown, Oak Creek, Aurora, Oakland, Toulouse, Chardon, Rio deJaneiro, Omaha, Baku, Winnendon, Oxnard, Tuusula, Blacksburg, Columbine, and too many more. We pray into the arms of your mercy, all the innocent victims. By your great might, frustrate the designs of evil people and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Christmas Sourcebook, p.81, Collect for the Holy Innocents, adapt.)

Let us remember the names of those who have died. As each name is read, and the bell is rung, let us pray for all who grieve their passing, even as we give thanks for the hope of eternal life.

  Rachel Davino
  Dawn Hochsprung
  Anne Marie Murphy
  Lauren Rousseau
  Mary Sherlach
  Victoria Soto

  Charlotte Bacon
  Daniel Barden
  Olivia Engel
  Josephine Gay
  Ana M. Marquez-Greene
  Dylan Hockley
  Madeleine F. Hsu
  Catherine V. Hubbard
  Chase Kowalski
  Jesse Lewis
  James Mattioli
  Grace McDonnell
  Emilie Parker
  Jack Pinto
  Noah Pozner
  Caroline Previdi
  Jessica Rekos
  Avielle Richman
  Benjamin Wheeler
  Allison N. Wyatt

Almighty God, in your keeping there is shelter from the storm, and in your mercy there is comfort for the sorrows of life. Hear now our prayer for those who mourn and are heavy laden. Give to them strength to do your will. Lighten their darkness with your love. Enable them to see beyond the things of this mortal world the promise of the eternal. Help them to know that your care enfolds all your people, that you are our refuge and strength, and that underneath are your everlasting arms. Amen.

Gracious, loving God, you are ever more ready to hear than we are to pray. You know our needs before we ask, and our ignorance in asking. Give to us now your grace, that as we shrink before the mystery of death, we may see the light of eternity. We lift before you our schools and all of the people who learn, teach, and serve within them. We pray to you for one another in our need, and for all anywhere who mourn with us this day. To those who doubt, give light; to those who are weak, strength; to all who have sinned, mercy; to all who sorrow, your peace. May our schools be filled with learning, laughter, and joy and may they be freed from sorrow, grief, and pain. Surround them with a hedge of your protection. Bless our children that every day they may grow more and more into the persons you have created them to be. Bless our educators, administrators, and support staff that they may know be filled with your grace and comfort, for we pray in the precious and holy name of Jesus. Amen.
(UMBOW adapt.)

Psalm 28: 1-2, 6-9. NRSV
Leader: To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest if you are silent to me, I become like those who do down to the pit.
People: Hear the voice of my supplication, as I cry to you for help, as I lift my hands toward your most holy sanctuary
Leader: Blessed by the Lord, who has heard the voice of my supplications!
People: The Lord is my strength and shield in whom my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to the Lord
Leader: The Lord is the strength of the people, the saving refuge of the anointed.
People: O save your people, bless your heritage; be their shepherd, and carry them forever.

Lord of all nations, keep our country under your protection. Wipe out sin from this land. Lift us up from the depth of sorrow, O Lord our shining light. Bless us in the midst of our grief. Grant us your wisdom, so that we may learn your ways of peace. Free us from the vain belief that violence is a solution. Strengthen our leaders with courage and discernment as they consider policy changes. O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of the nations, and our Savior:
Come and save us, O Lord, our God.
(UMBOW and UMH, adapt.)

The season of Advent is one in which we seek to open our hearts afresh to the transforming love of God. As we grieve the sin and evil that has wrought such heartache, let us pray for the mind of Christ to be in us, knowing that is through the power of the Spirit that sin is defeated.

We believe in a bright and amazing God,
  who has been to the depths of despair on our behalf;
 who has risen in splendor and majesty;
  who decorates the universe
with sparkling clear water, clear white light,
  twinkling stars and sharp colors,
   over and over again.

We believe that Jesus is the light of the world;
  that God believes in us, and trust us,
  even though we make the same mistakes over and over again.

We commit ourselves to Jesus,
   to one another as brothers and sisters,
   and to the Creator’s business in the world
We thank you for the gift of salvation,
    for we cannot save ourselves.
May the mind be in us which was in Christ Jesus.
50 Great Prayers from the Iona Community, Helen Lambie (adapt.)

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