The words delivered at St. Paul's in a special prayer service for 9/11 five years ago...
We're gathered tonight, people loved by God, in the spirit of Job. Our minds shrink from the staggering numbers of those who are dead; as well as from the horrible way so many of them died. Our hearts go out to the families who are now as torn apart and devastated as any of the buildings we saw in New York or Washington - families where a mother's voice will never be heard again or a father's face never seen or a child's hand never touched again. In the face of such terrible wreckage of human lives and the unimaginable tidal wave of human sorrow, we can only ask Job to move over for a bit so that we might sit with him for a while in the dust and ashes and learn from him to turn to God in worship, because there really is nowhere else to turn.
Today is not the time to theologize about good and evil in the world. It is too soon for such. Today is the time for us to get on our knees and pray. And to do so knowing that the One to whom we pray is no stranger to the terrible things that humans do to each other, to know that He to whom we pray became One with us in our tears and in our sorrows. He knows what it is to weep at death. He has felt in His own body the irrational hatred of those who think they serve God by dishing out violence and destruction. What a comfort that in our prayers tonight, we pray to the Crucified One. And above all to the Risen One.
For Job would go on to confess "I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand upon the earth and that after my skin has been destroyed nevertheless in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself and not another. How my heart yearns within me."
Our prayers rise tonight to Him who walked among us as the man of sorrows, who is acquainted with our grief, and who died to conquer and destroy death's power over his people forever. We pray tonight before the God who will make the ashes live again.
Hear us, dear heavenly Father, as we join our prayers to those of your children throughout the world in the face of the terrible events of yesterday.
For all the children who have lost parents, let us pray to the Lord. R.
For all the parents who have lost children, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For all the husbands who have lost their wives, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For all the wives who have lost their husbands, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For all whose lives have been shattered and whose hopes and dreams have been destroyed, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For the families of those brave souls who responded to others' needs only to lose their own lives, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For the firefighters and policemen, the doctors, nurses and EMTs and all those who participate in the relief effort, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For any who are still alive in the rubble, that aid may be brought to them speedily and that they not lose heart, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For those who are dying, that they be given grace to have a blessed end and be brought from this world of sorrow to the heavenly homeland, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For the Mayor of New York and all the people of his city; for the military and the families whose lives have been shattered in Washington, for our President and Congress, and for all who seek to restore order and to administer justice in our land, that they be given great wisdom and courage to meet the coming days, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For freedom from malice in the hearts of our people, that private acts of hatred and violence be thwarted and that no further suffering be inflicted on innocent lives, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For the people who have perpetrated these acts of terror and aggression, that they be swiftly located and brought to justice by duly constituted authority, and above all that their hearts may be turned from the path of hatred and violence by the gift of repentance, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For the people of our nation, that God would use this terrible tragedy to strengthen and unite us and to lead us back into his ways, let us pray to the Lord. R.