The following liturgy was adapted by Bradley Bell from “A Liturgy for Grieving a National Tragedy” in Every Moment Holy, Volume II: Death, Grief, and Hope by Douglas Kaine McKelvey. It was originally written in response to the unrest in Afghanistan and Haiti in mid-2021, but we encourage readers to use it as we pray for Israel.
A Liturgy for Responding to International Tragedy
Lord, as I rest in the grace of government stability, Distant tragedy threatens to disturb my peace. Will I pause long enough to care, to weep? Or will I attend only to the hum of my life and my ministry? Let me see that this, too, is my ministry. O God who gathers what has been scattered, Shelter Afghanistan and Haiti in the shadow of your wings. O Christ who binds our wounds, Be their great healer. O Spirit who enters every grief, Intercede now for these hurting peoples, in these broken lands. Be present in the midst of this far-reaching pain, O Lord, for we are reeling again, at the news of threat and loss to life that touches us all; news of flourishing diminished; of individuals harmed; of pain imposed, not only upon victims and their families who bear now the immediate brunt of it—but also upon entire nations. For we are all more fragile than we know. Engage our imaginations and move our hearts to compassion rather than commentary, that we would interact with these casualties not as news stories or statistics, but as our own flesh and blood, divine image-bearers, irreplaceable individuals whose losses will leave gaping holes in homes, friendships, workplaces, churches, schools, organizations, and neighborhoods. Be merciful to those now wounded. Be present with those now bereaved. Be mighty among those now afraid. You do not run from our world’s chaos, O God. So let us not either. Be with all who move toward this need: those who offer aid and protection. Grant our government leaders wisdom, courage, vision, sympathy, and strength to serve with the humanity that ultimately flows from your heart. Console those who have labored long and sacrificed to serve these nations. And forgive our nation for our shortcomings and contributions to this brokenness. Arrest the hearts and stay the hands of any who even now might be plotting further evil and violence against others, O Christ. Turn them from hatred. Turn their hearts to you. You have declared yourself a Father to the weak and fatherless So may you now protect the most vulnerable: women, children, elderly, disabled, the targeted, the hated, and especially— especially your beloved bride our forever family. Give them courage to stand and be multiplied even as they may fall and be subtracted. You alone have strength to carry these peoples. Carry them now, O Lord. You alone have wisdom and power to heal the wounds of nations. Heal them now, O Lord. Even in the shadow of such tragedy, let us not lose hope. Give us eyes to see the rapid movements of mercy rushing to fill these newly wounded spaces. Let us see in this the echoes of your own mercy and compassion—a foretaste of your kingdom coming to earth. For in the cross you have shown that you are able to take even the very worst of circumstances and astound us with the greatest of good. And so be merciful again, O Lord. Amen.