April 19, 2007 | A day of remembrance following the Virginia Tech tragedy
Offered by Dana Ferguson, Executive Associate Pastor
God of all ages, of what has been and what should not have been, of what was hoped for and what was never imagined, of what might be and what can be, we lift our eyes from unthinkable loss and ask from whence shall our help come? We are here stumbling over words to make of them prayers. In the midst of all this heartbreak and death and loss, we shall speak no bumbling words explaining to you our brave understanding of the horrid thing that has happened. We have no such understanding.
So, confused and hurting we come to you. Comfort of the comfortless, hope of the hopeless, make your voice ring in our ears and echo in the empty places of this nation. Say to us and to this world, our help comes from you. For you alone can satisfy all of our longings that earth cannot.
Bless, we pray this day, the community of Virginia Tech, nestled in the majesty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Draw them and us to the well of faith that has sustained generations through all times—through terror and trauma, violence and vengeance. May the beauty of your creation be a sign to them of your strong arms around them. Speak tenderly to broken hearts. Bathe their hurts with the balm of your kindness. Bind their wounds with the cloth of your grace.
There are many who are angry. Fashion, we pray, the strength of their passion into energy not to destroy but to build, not to lash out in retaliation but to reach out in compassion. There are many who are bitter. Transform that bitterness, O God, into a resolve to make of this world a safer place to live. Grant wisdom, O God, lest things are done in the name of those wounded and those now past that they would not have done; lest what is done in the name of justice is simply human vengeance.
Bless all of your servants, who will care for those who are hurting. Grant a gentle touch that is your touch, grant compassionate words that are your words, grant strength of presence that is your strong presence. Accept thanks now, O God, for the gift of memory that the many who have loved so dearly and now are grieving may one day soon reflect with joy on the ones they have loved, grateful for the good that was in them and lives on now through the lives of this world.
Fill us and the many who grieve with the hope of life yet to live and dreams yet to dream in this life and the next. Bring quickly, we pray, the day when senseless death shall be no more, when weeping and crying shall be no more, and when our questions will no more go unanswered. For this day of living, we thank you for signs of hope: community yet gathering, church yet praying, families yet embracing, children yet laughing. Make us stronger to build a world full of love and compassion, hope, and promise that it might be known through the actions of the people of this world that goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness, life is strong than death. For we pray this and all things for the sake of your people and in the strong name of Jesus Christ, praying together, Our Father . . .
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church