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  • Writer's pictureBradley Bell

A Liturgy for Responding to International Tragedy

The following liturgy was adapted from “A Liturgy for Grieving a National Tragedy” in Every Moment Holy, Volume II: Death, Grief, and Hope by Douglas Kaine McKelvey.

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—


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.


This liturgy was originally featured at The Upstream Collective.

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