Three Presbyterians have composed worship resources for use by churches to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC.
The resources ― produced for the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. (NCC) include a new hymn written by renowned Presbyterian hymn-writer the Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette and a liturgy prepared by the Rev. Eileen Lindner and the Rev. Jon Brown.
Gillette is co-pastor with her husband, Bruce, of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, DE. Lindner, former deputy general secretary of the NCC, is pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Tenafly, NJ. Brown, former coordinator for mission interpretation and promotion for the PC(USA)’s General Assembly Mission Council, is pastor of Old Bergen Presbyterian Church in Jersey City, NJ.
“The terror attacks of September 11, 2001 ― starkly and universally abbreviated as 9/11 ― set in motion a worldwide chain reaction that has not ebbed in the decade that has passed,” said the NCC in a statement introducing worship resources.
“For Christians in the U.S. and around the world, this tenth anniversary will be a time of prayer and remembrance for those who were lost, as well as a time for each of us to seek to discern God’s will for ending the hatred and resentments that spawned the violence,” said the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary.
The full text of Gillette’s hymn:
O God, Our Hearts Were Shattered
220.127.116.11 D LLANGLOFFAN (“O God of Earth and Altar”) Presbyterian Hymnal #291
O God, our hearts were shattered On that horrendous day;
We heard the news and gathered To grieve and then to pray.
We cried to you and wondered, “Where did the violence start?”
The world as we had known it Had just been torn apart.
We heard of those who perished— Of heroes’ sacrifice.
We paused again to cherish The gifts of love and life.
We worried for the future; We hugged our loved ones then.
We cried, “Can peace be found here?” “We can’t let terror win!”
Some sought to answer terror The only way they knew—
With anger toward the stranger And calls for vengeance, too.
Yet this is not your answer, Nor what you would create.
May we live toward a future Where love will conquer hate.
God, give us faith and wisdom To be your healing hands;
Give open minds that listen To truth from all your lands.
Give strength to work for justice; Grant love that casts out fear.
Then peace and not destruction Will be the victor here.
Text: Copyright © 2011 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Permission is given for use of this hymn for local church use.
The full text of the liturgy written by Lindner and Brown:
A Service of Hope and Remembrance
Opening Sentences (said by the Leader or in Unison):
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:27) As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear God. As a mother comforts her child so I will comfort you, says the Lord.
(Psalm 103:13; Isaiah. 66:13)
Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
Song: Goodness is Stronger Than Evil
Psalm Reading: Psalm 46:1-3, 9-11
Prayers of Remembrance, Comfort and Hope:
Leader: God of the years, we call to you this day when the memories of 9/11 weigh so heavily upon our hearts. We recall with horror and renewed shock that day when airplanes flew into buildings and people perished. We remember our fear and anger, our confusion, and sense of threat.
All: We remember all that was lost to us that day: our sense of security, our peace, our innocence, our belief that we were safely beyond such random violence and death. Most of all we remember those who died in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, their lives of promise extinguished in hatred.
Leader: Let us light a candle and remember.
(As this portion of the prayer is said, participants are invited to approach the table to light a candle as they feel led and, if they wish, to speak the name of an individual or groups of individuals, e.g. firemen, airline passengers, etc.)
Sung Response: Make Me a Channel of Your Peace (verse 1)
Leader: God of mercy, even in our worst moments your loving kindness surrounds us. In those tragic days a decade ago, our confident faith that you were with us enabled us to go on. We give you thanks for the ways in which you comforted us in those grim days through adeepened sense of community.
We trace the movement of your grace through those among us who risked their lives to save others. We are comforted by those who offered kindness and succor and shelter to persons in distress, and by those who would not let hatred overcome love. For those whose witness to adeeper wisdom and faith comforted us, we give you thanks.
All: For public officials, neighbors, friends and strangers who brought to our troubled lives solace and clarity of purpose, we give thanks. For the calm and reassuring voices of the wise who gave us comfort and strength, we give thanks.
Leader: Let us light a candle in tribute to those persons and also those places which gave us comfort and for the words and deeds that restored to us peace. (As this portion of the prayer is said, participants are invited to approach the second table to light a candle as they feel led and, if they wish, to name a way in which they were comforted.)
Sung Response: Make Me a Channel of Your Peace (verse 2)
Leader: O God, you have taught us that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. We live by hope in the future you hold for us and the whole world. Grant us, we pray, hope for our children and our children’s children that they may not know or inflict the horror and terror we recall this day. Bolster our hope when it flags and teach us to strive in all that we do to realize the hope that is in your Word and witness.
All: Eternal God, in you our hope is boundless. You renew hope in us through the promise of a future in which none shall be afraid or lift up sword against a neighbor. We pray in hope for the peace of the world among peoples and nations, religions and cultures, until we become a beloved community reconciled to one another under your sovereignty.
Leader: Let us light a candle and give voice to our hopes for our lives in obedience to God.
(As this portion of the prayer is said, participants are invited to approach the third table tolight a candle as they feel led and, if they wish, to express a word of the hope we have in Christ.)
Sung Response: Make Me a Channel of Your Peace (verse 3)
Leader: May these candles represent for us the light of our shared memories, the light of comfort and strength, and the light of our hope. In memory, comfort and hope God abides now and forever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
New Testament Reading: 2 Corinthians 4: 1, 5-10
Homily or Sermon may be offered
Hymn of Dedication: Song of Peace
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. This we pray in the strong name of Jesus our Christ. Amen
Closing Hymn: Oh God, our Hearts Were Shattered
Leader: In God’s providence you were created and preserved unto to this day for purposes unafraid. Let memory now reside in you at peace. Let comfort companion you in all your days. Let hope spring forth in you by the power of the Holy Spirit. May you serve God in all that you do and say, witnessing to the reign and realm of God to come. Amen.