9/11   Prayer Service

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
September 11, 2002
7:00 pm

In his hands

      "The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands."   (John 3:35)
"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.(John 20:25b)

Call to Worship

Scripture                                     Isaiah 59:1-3


Hymn                            "O God, our help in ages past"                                328


Hymn                        "When I survey the wondrous cross"                           259

Recalling those in need of prayer

Praying together "as two or more gathered in my name"

Hymn                                  "And I will raise you up"                                    596
                         (the church board leaves for its meeting as we sing)

Quiet Reflection and Personal Prayer

During this time,
if you feel led to read aloud for other worshipers
a passage of scripture or some other spiritual reading,
or to share an inspired thought,
or suggest a hymn or song to sing
please do so - coming to the microphone up front.
You are welcome to stay and pray as long as you wish.

You came to worship, go forth to serve

#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Call to Worship

1 - In his hands, we are gathered.

2 - In his hands, we remember the events of one year ago.

1 - On Monday, September 10th, 2001, there were people fighting against praying in school.

2 - On Tuesday, September 11th, you would have been hard pressed to find a school where someone was not praying.

1 - On Monday, there were people trying to separate each other by race, sex, color and creed.

2 - On Tuesday, they were holding hands.

1 - On Monday we thought we were secure.

2 - On Tuesday we learned better.

1 - On Monday we were talking about heroes as being athletes.

2 - On Tuesday we re-learned what hero really meant.

1 - On Monday people went to work at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as usual.

2 - On Tuesday they were no more.

1 - On Monday people were upset that their dry cleaning was not ready on time.

2 - On Tuesday they lined up to give blood for the dying.

1 - On Monday politicians argued about budget surpluses.

2 - On Tuesday, grief stricken, they sang, "God Bless America".

1 - On Monday some children had families intact.

2 - On Tuesday they were orphans.

1 - Today, in his hands, we remember them all, the old and the young, the orphans, the widows, the widowers and all those who seek Godís tender healing grace.

2 - We have come to pray that God would continue to hold them in his hands. We also have gathered to place ourselves in the hands of the Lord.

slightly adapted from a 
communion liturgy for the one-year anniversary of September 11
provided by the New Jersey Interfaith Partnership for Disaster Recovery.


         "Behold," said the prophet Isaiah long ago, "the Lordís hand is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. Rather, your iniquities have been barriers between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue mutters wickedness."     (Isaiah 59:1-3)


         To place ourselves into the hands of God is to quickly move toward confession - for our hands are unclean before a Holy God. In the following moments of repentant prayer, would you turn to the Lord by responding to each sentence I pray for us, with the following words:

"Forgive us Lord."

         We come before you Lord, with open hearts, open minds, open hands, yet remembering those times when we have failed you.

Forgive us Lord.

         We watched the horrors unfold on September 11, yet our minds were not wholly focused on you.

Forgive us Lord.

         We sought revenge; our rage and bitterness devoured thoughts and intentions.

Forgive us Lord.

         We were quick to judge and hastily labeled the innocent as "guilty"

Forgive us Lord.

         We waved our flags in righteousness, yet failed to see You, O Lord, as ruler over all the nations.

Forgive us Lord.

         We cried for war, when you had called us to seek peace.

Forgive us Lord.

         We sang "God Bless America," forgetting the needs of sisters and brothers in other parts of the world starving and suffering from oppression.

Forgive us Lord.

         For ways we failed to reach out, refused to pray or otherwise ignored your gracious call in our lives.

Forgive us Lord.

         And for all other sins, both known and unknown to our conscious minds.

Forgive us Lord.

(Moment of silence for personal reflection)

         The Lord God in mercy has given His Son to die for us and, for his sake, forgives us all our sins. Through His Holy Spirit He cleanses us and gives us power to proclaim what he has done and what he continues to do. Please stand. Lift up your hearts, your hands, your voices and sing to the Lord - who is "our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home," #328.

slightly adapted from a 
communion liturgy for the one-year anniversary of September 11
provided by the New Jersey Interfaith Partnership for Disaster Recovery.


         This evening, I propose that we allow two verses from the gospel of John to shape our time together under the theme - "In his hands..." The first comes from the third chapter. Many have memorized another verse from this chapter, recalling what Jesus said one dark night to Nicodemus, a Pharisee who yearned for the truth but was scared over where it might take him. In their conversation, Jesus opened wide the door to this entire globe, saying that "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life" (John 3:16).

         As "awesome" as that verse is, one we do need to remember, there is another that we need to shape this moment. It comes from the lips of John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the Lord. Among other things, John said, "The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands" (John 3:35). Did you hear that? All things are in his hands. Do not forget that. Ever. We struggled to believe that one year ago, as we watched terrifying events unfold closer to home that ever before. It was a challenge to our faith to confess such a thing at such a time, even as it brought comfort. All things are in his hands. I do not understand, I just know. Help thou my unbelief.

         A second verse, similar to the first, must be spoken. This one is from the 20th chapter of the gospel of John. Terrifying things happened in the events that led up to the moment these words were uttered. Dare we think of the crucifixion of Jesus as an act of terror? To do so reminds us that terrorists sometimes wear the uniforms of the empire or the robes of clergy.

         However, the verse I want to bring to mind follows up that act of terror and recalls what God did in response. On the third day, the risen Christ appeared to his disciples as they gathered in fear behind locked doors. Does that sound familiar in this age of insecurity? One disciple was not among them, though. When he arrived later, having missed seeing Jesus alive and well, he said to the others (listen!): "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe" (John 20:25b).

         We know the rest of the story, donít we? Our Lord returned and showed Thomas the reality of the resurrection, having him touch the wounds that were still there. "My Lord and my God," was all this once doubting Thomas could respond.... Why we need to remember this verse is that even after Jesus rose from the dead, the marks of his healed wounds were still in his hands.

         Yes, we are in his hands. John the Baptist said, "All things are in his hands." That includes us. That also includes the world (not just the people of this nation) for whom God gave his only Son. These hands which hold us still bear the scars. Though the wounds have healed, they remain as marks that remind. Just like, over time, there comes healing for those who have been wounded by terror. However, the scars will remain and remind. In a society which tries to forget suffering, which attempts to sanitize and sterilize pain out of existence - we know the truth. We canít ignore such things, here or around the globe. That is not the way of the cross, nor the way of the empty tomb.

         In the moments leading up to the terror of the crucifixion, it was Thomas who said to Jesus, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" To which Jesus replied, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:5-6). These are not words to use in bashing Muslims, Jews, or those who believe differently from us. They are words which point to the One whose hands uphold and heal those who hurt, whose hands - in fact - hold all things. These hands still bear the mark of the nails.

         Tonight, I call you to lift up those who need Jesus one year after September 11th, to place them, as you place yourself, in his hands. After we sing the next hymn, you are invited to speak out loud someone or something to place in his hands during our time of prayer. It may be something like,

"those who lost a loved one," or
"those still in harmís way," or
"our country," or
"our leaders," or
"the people of Afghanistan," or
"the people of Iraq," or
"those we consider our enemies."

         You could get more specific and say something like,

"Fire fighters," or
"police," or
"soldiers," or
"mediators," or

         You could even get more specific and name names. Dare we lift up specific names of our nationís leaders? Dare we even place the names of enemies in the hands of the Lord? Are these persons beyond his reach? "God so loved the world...," Jesus said.

         Perhaps you know someone personally who is in pain over this earth shattering event a year ago, someone who lost a loved one, or who is still recovering. Name the name. (see links below for listings of victims' names)  What you speak aloud, in general terms or more specific, will help us then as we turn to God in intercessory prayer. There is space on your bulletin where you are invited to write down these suggestions for prayer, to use them as a guide - answering the question we often ask, "What should I pray for?"

         When it seems we have spoken all the suggestions for prayer that have come to mind, I will invite you to turn to a few other persons sitting near you to pray. Whether you speak your prayers aloud or silently do so, with these suggestions before you, does not matter. Iíd encourage you to be bold and speak your words, but we know that the Holy Spirit is already at work interceding before our words even get to our lips. Our true "boldness" comes in recognizing his hands - which still bear the marks of his crucifixion - and in being led wherever he guides. As you ponder, just now, who and what you might place into his hands, letís turn to #259 and sing "When I survey the wondrous cross."

Some possibilities for scripture readings:

Psalm 121, 27, 46, or 103;
Ezekiel 37:1-14;
Isaiah 49:8-11;
Isaiah 54:4-10;
Amos 5:4-9; 14-15;
Lamentations 3:19-26;
Matthew 11:25-30;
Mark 2:1-12;
John 5:25-29, 6:37-40;
Romans 8:18-27;
Romans 8:28-35, 37-39;
1 Corinthians 15:12-26;
1 Peter 1:3-9;
1 John 3:1-2;
Revelation 7:13-17

list provided by the
New Jersey Interfaith Partnership for Disaster Recovery

Prayer of St. Francis

         Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; and Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; To be understood, as to understand; To be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receiveó It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. So be it.

some other possibilities

September 11 links
(Who should I pray for? Names are always helpful)

A List of those killed on 9/11

A List of those who survived the Attacks (& those still missing)

Families of September 11


©2002 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)


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