Prayers for Christchurch, New Zealand

Friday’s lectionary reading, the Psalmist wrote “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?”  and continues to list the woes and calamities that has overtaken his or her life.  Yet in those cries of despair the Psalmist calls on the Lord for help and reminds all who are reading that God does not forget God’s people in the midst of despair.

“God did not hide God’s face from me, but heard me when I cried” (v. 24)

At Friday prayers in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, a gunman, and perhaps others, killed 49 people and seriously wounded more than 40.

Hear our cries as we receive the news of yet another evil act against people in prayer and worship. Here our prayer in our sadness. Be with those who cry and wail as the reality of the loss of a loved overwhelms them.

God of mercy, whose presence sustains us in every circumstance, in the midst of unfolding violence and the aftermath of terror and loss, we seek the grounding power of your love and compassion.

In these days of fearful danger and division, we need to believe somehow that your kingdom of peace in which all nations and tribes and languages dwell together in peace is still a possibility.

Give us hope and courage that we may not yield our humanity to fear, even in these endless days of dwelling in the valley of the shadow of death.

We pray for brothers and sisters in Christchurch, who in the midst of the grace of ordinary day of prayer and worship have been violently assaulted, their lives cut off without mercy.

We are hostages of fear, caught in an escalating cycle of violence whose end cannot be seen.

We open our hearts in anger, sorrow and hope: that those who have been spared, as well as those whose lives are changed forever, may find solace, sustenance, and strength in the days of recovery and reflection that come.

We give thanks for strangers who comfort the wounded and for the first responders who run toward the sound of gunfire and into the chaos.  

Once again, Holy One, we cry, how long, O Lord?

We seek forgiveness for the ways in which we have tolerated enmity and endured cultures of violence with weary resignation.

We grieve the continued erosion of the fabric of our common life, the reality of fear that warps the common good. We pray in grief, remembering the lives that have been lost and maimed in body or spirit.

We ask for sustaining courage for those who are suffering; wisdom and diligence among global and national agencies and individuals assessing threat and directing relief efforts; and for our anger and sorrow to unite in service to the establishment of a reign of peace, where the lion and the lamb may dwell together, and terror will not hold sway over our common life.

In these days of shock and sorrow, open our eyes, our hearts, and our hands to the movements of your Spirit, who flows in us like the river whose streams makes glad the city of God, and the hearts of all who dwell in it, and in You.

In the name of Christ, our healer and our Light, we pray, Amen.

Adapted from Prayer by the Rev. Dr. Laurie Ann Kraus
Coordinator, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance