One day, I will be able to go six months without having to plan a vigil to remember some horrific act of violence. That will be a great day.
That is not this day, however.
NAU Canterbury will be holding a vigil on campus this week (most likely Wednesday, it now appears) to remember those suffering in Boston, as well as those who died in Newtown, and around the country as a result of the violence in our world.
Here’s the liturgy I’ve written for this.
(NOTE: this is the initial draft, and as such, hasn’t been approved by my ecumenical colleagues. So please don’t hold this against them.)
Vigil for Victims of Violence 2013
Opening: (words to this effect: admittedly, I tend to overwrite liturgy)
Leaders: (alternating) We have come here in deep emotion: grief, sorrow and shock. We have come here in anger, frustration, and even numbness. Again and again, in the past few months, we have seen the violence in our world, arriving on our very doorsteps, splashed across our televisions and computers.
What we have witnessed is overwhelming.
As people of faith, we know that God is with us, even now. We know that God is with those who are suffering.
We know these things, even when it is hard to feel that they are true.
And so tonight, we bring our tears and our anguish, our frustration and our fear, and our sense of powerlessness to the God who chose to suffer with this world.
Let us pray.
Holy God, as Mary stood at the foot of the cross, we stand before you with broken hearts and tearful eyes. Keep us mindful that you know our pain, and free us to see your resurrection power already at work in the world around us. In your time, raise us from our grief as you have raised those we’ve lost to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let us remember those we have lost. As a sign of respect and remembrance, as you read the names given to you, please stand.
Students read the names, alternating.
- For the 28 people killed in Newtown, CT at an elementary school.
- For the many who have died at Virginia Tech, Columbine, and other schools around our country.
- For the six people killed in Tucson, AZ at a grocery store.
- For the thirteen people killed in Aurora, CO at a movie theater
- For the seven people killed in Oak Creek, WI at a Sikh temple
- For the three people killed, and hundreds wounded, at a Boston marathon
- For the thousands who die every day on the streets of Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC, and all of our cities, whose names are known to God alone.
- For hundreds of victims of accidental shootings and stray bullets.
- For victims of domestic violence and abuse.
- For all those left to mourn the dead, and care for the wounded.
- For those so lost and confounded that violence appears to be the best answer.
Leader: For all these named, and for all those we’ve lost that we name now, we pray.
We name the victims we know personally here.
Everyone should be standing now. We observe a period of silence. Then…
Reader 1: Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, or rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Reader 2: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Reader 3: Jesus said to his followers:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are those who mourn; for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek; for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Leader: As people of faith, and as followers of Jesus, this is who we are called to be. This is how we are called to live. Even in a world of violence. Especially in a world of violence. We are called to bear the light of Christ’s peace and illuminate the darkened world around us. We are called to be the helpers.
Let us pray.
Prayer of 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.
Let us go forth, to be light for the world, salt for the earth, peacemakers in a troubled time.
And may the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, keep us now and forever in peace.