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12.16.12 Letting the Liturgy do Its Work, Congregational Prayers Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre

by on December 18, 2012

There is a maxim among liturgical scholars that invites us to “let the liturgy do its work.” It’s based on the principle that no one remembers sermons, but they do remember liturgy: the Lord’s Prayer, Doxology, Gloria Patri, “The Lord be with you . . .”

With this in mind, here are the relevant sections from our corporate prayers together in worship the Sunday following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.


We invited children, their parents, and all who wish, to the center of the sanctuary for prayer.

All-Present God, you are like a circle. You have no beginning and you have no end. Your love surrounds us always, because you are our creator, and you are good. We see your love in good people. We see your love in caring people—in parents and grand-parents, in uncles and aunts, in teachers and coaches and those who give us music lessons. We see your love in our friends. We thank you for all these good and caring people who remind us every day, that even though bad and scary things happen, you are always with us.

We pray today in thanksgiving for these and all children, whom we receive as gifts from you. Help us to be good and faithful stewards of them. Help us to care for them all, as if they were our own, for in the bonds of baptism you have made us one family.

We pray today in anguish for families and friends who grieve the loss of their children. Grant them the comfort of your Spirit’s presence, the hope of your faithful promises, and the caring ministry of your church, of which we are a part. Guide us in sharing your love with all people, with all good and caring people, with all children, with all who mourn, that together with all we may have hope. For our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth, and we know that name to be Creator, Spirit, Jesus, in whom we live, and move, and have our being, and in which we pray. Amen.

PASTORAL PRAYER (following Sermon)

God whose mercy and grace knows no bounds, we call upon you for strength this morning. We have gathered in the valley of the shadow of death, under the pall of a darkened sky. We have gathered around the light of Jesus Christ, whose advent into this darkness cannot be obstructed or overcome. We have gathered amidst a stormy sea of emotions: we are sad, we are confused, we are angry, we are scared.

On this third Sunday in Advent, just over a week away from Christmas, we also carry with us emotions of our own making. We are anxious about many things. We are worried about more than just today. We have wearied ourselves once again with the yoke of the world, and so we come to you to find rest for our souls.

Almighty God, we are longing to know, at a level as deep as our other emotions, the peace that transcends understanding, that was proclaimed at Christ’s birth, and that is available even now in the presence of your Spirit. Grant us faith to rest in this peace. Grant us courage to defend this peace against darkness and distraction. Grant us hope in the promise that this peace is but a foretaste of the deliverance you have destined for each of us in Christ’s coming again—today, tomorrow, and every day.

In this week in which we have witnessed acts of horror and heroism, save us from the temptation to place our hope superficially in arguments about gun control or prayer in school. Instead, give us the courage to place our hope in you alone, for only you can give us the strength not only to grieve but to heal, not only to lament but to engage. Only you can lead us through the labyrinth of sin which produces such tragedy and sorrow. Only you can deliver us from evil, as you demonstrated in Christ’s resurrection, and as he taught us to pray together saying, Our Father . . .


O Lord, our God, we gather at this Eucharistic table to give thanks and to remember that in this time of holiday chaos and national tragedy you are not only the creator of the universe but also its ruler. You deliver us from captivity to freedom. You speak through prophets about the triumph of justice and righteousness and peace.

You sent Christ to us as light to assure and to inspire and to guide. As we yearn for a savior, so you are faithful to provide. He proclaimed the peace of your kingdom, and modeled the way of this truth through his life. We remember that on the night of his betrayal, he took bread, . . .

Gracious God, pour out your Spirit in abundance upon these your gifts of bread and cup, and upon all who partake of this feast in faith. Make firm our union with Christ and with one another in him, that together we may find comfort in your presence, strength in your Spirit, and hope in the promised return of Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.



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