Monday, September 12, 2011

Selections from Grace Church's 9/11 Service


The introduction to the Sunday Service Bulletin

Dear Friends,

This morning we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tragedy of September 11, 2001.  Needless to say, each one of us has vivid memories of this event which will ever be etched in our minds: where we were that day when the Twin Towers were attacked, how we reacted, what we were thinking, feeling -- the horror, the sadness, the disbelief.  Now ten years later we revisit that tragic day hopefully with some positive perspective which makes sense of what seems still to be an unthinkable occurrence. 

Through the horror of 9/11, we have learned some hard but valuable lessons -- we have learned the amazing courage and strength and goodness of the American people -- their willingness to help in times of peril, their bravery in the midst of acts of violence, bravery even unto death.  We have seen a nation rise from the ashes of this tragic event more aware of the abundant gifts which it possesses and the preciousness of life at once brilliant yet ever transitory.  We have learned to hold those dear to us with tenderness and be much more careful that our love for each other is affirmed daily.  We have learned to take each moment as a priceless gift from God.  We have learned to broaden our acceptance of our neighbor who is different from us -- not seeing in them potential terrorists but rather children of God made in His image and likeness. 

For those who set out to hurt us and who despise us, we can only pray for their souls and protect our nation from their anger.  For those who have died innocently and without malice, we know that they are in the loving hands of God.  For those who died bravely as martyrs helping others, their crown of glory in heaven is assured.  May we hope and pray that an event like this may never happen again -- that we as the world's people may be generous, kind, and loving towards each other.

Faithfully in Christ, Fr. Bob Hufford+

From the Epistle Lesson (Romans 14: 1-12)

Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

From the Gospel (Matthew 18:21-35)

Peter came and said to Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times."

The Prayers of the People: A Litany of Remembrance, Penitence, and Hope

Officiant: We light a candle in remembrance for all those who suffered and died on September 11, 2001, in New York, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.  We light a candle to remember those who still live and who suffer because of the events of that day.

Reader: When we remember the stockbrokers, office workers, maintenance workers, bystanders, window-washers and all the others who worked together so valiantly to help each other, we can say together,

All: We remember great courage

Reader: When we recall the firefighters who rushed upstairs as most everyone else was racing out, we can say together,

All: We remember selfless service.

Reader: When we recall the police officers who stood to protect and defend the people and performed their duties until the towers came crashing down on top of them, we can say together,

All: We remember selfless sacrifice for the safety of others.

Reader: When we recall the thousands of workers, women and men, and old and young, single and married, American-born and those born in countries around the world who did not escape the buildings, we can say together,

All: We remember the loss of human life.

Reader: When we recall those citizens who rushed to help, did all they could to help, we can say together,

All: We remember and give thanks for dutiful commitment to those in distress.

Reader: When we recall the people who stood in line at the nation's blood banks to make living donations from their very bodies, we can say together,

All: We give thanks for those who live on to pass on life and love.

Reader: When we remember the millions of Americans who gave so generously of their life and labor to endow funds to help the survivors and their families recover from their losses, we can say together:

All: We are grateful for generosity.

After the Eucharist

All: God of all creation, our hearts are broken over the destruction and loss we remember this day. And we acknowledge, O Lord, that on that day of human carnage yours was the first heart to break.

Congregation left side: In our remembering, may we stand with those who mourn and those who cannot stop mourning. Through remembering, may we find new comfort in your care. In our remembering may we be drawn to a new hope for the whole world, and may we gain for ourselves a measure of your peace.

Congregation right side: You who can turn the shadow of night into the bright promise of a new day, empower us to shape a world marked by ways of life that lead to justice and peace for all peoples.

Congregation left side: Fashion in us a people who are more ready to grow in understanding than eager to judge those who are different from us. Form us as a people determined to heal wounds rather than inflict them.

Congregation right side: We pray at last that you would cultivate such love in us that we may reach out in compassion to all those who are still wounded by the events of that day; and in seeking to heal others, may we experience a love that makes us whole.

All: This we pray in the strong name of Jesus our Christ. Amen.

By the Rev. Eileen W. Lindner, former Deputy General Secretary of the National Council of Churches.

The Closing Hymn (Hymnal 1982, number 570)

All who love and serve your city,
All who bear its daily stress,
All who cry for peace and justice,
All who curse and all who bless,

In your day of love and sorrow,
In your day of helpless strife,
Honor, peace and love retreating,
Seek the lord, who is your life.

In your day of wealth and plenty,
Wasted work and wasted play,
Call to mind the work of Jesus,
"Work ye now while it is day."

Risen Lord, shall yet the city,
Be the city of despair?
Come today, our judge, our glory;
Be its name "The Lord is there!"

For all days are days of judgment,
And the Lord is waiting still,
Drawing near his friends who spurn him,
Off'ring peace from Calvr'ys hill.

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