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An Ecumenical Service of Prayer for Hope and Healing

September 12, 2001

Prelude -- Selected Hymns -- The Rev. Waldo Landquist, Minister of Music, Terryville Congregational Church

Word of Welcome -- The Rev. Karl H. Duetzmann -- Pastor, Terryville Congregational Church

Call to Worship -- The Rev. Dr. Christopher Drew -- Pastor, First Baptist Church of Plymouth

Leader: Gracious God, You alone know what is good for us; therefore, do what seems best to You.
People: Give to us or take from us; conform our will to Yours.
Leader: Grant that, with humble and perfect submission and in confidence, we may receive the order of Your eternal Providence;
People: And may equally adore all that comes to us from You,
All: Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!!!

Hymn # 433 "God of our Fathers"
** (all who are able please rise)

Invocation -- The Rev. Gerald Dziedzic -- Pastor, Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church and St. Casimir's Catholic Church

Leader: The Lord be with you,
People: And also with you.

Prayer of Confession

(unison) Compassionate and gracious God, ever constant and true, forgive our rebellion and sin. We admit that we are only too willing to take advantage of Your forgiving nature. We go on stubbornly in selfish ways and persist in sins that take their toll on generations to come. We refuse Your offered power to free us from our prejudices. Forgive our unwillingness to change; through Christ our Lord. Amen!!!

Assurance of Pardon

Leader: Hear the Good News! Jesus came to pardon sinners and will bring to fulfillment every good promise and every act inspired by faith according to the grace of our God in Jesus Christ. Friends, believe the Good News. In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.
People: Thanks be to God!!!

**Hymn # 348 "My Faith looks up to Thee"
(all who are able please rise)

Prayers for Hope and Healing and Readings from God's Holy Word

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Drew

Psalm 23:1-6 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

The Rev. Gerald Dziedzic -- Pastor, Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church and St. Casimir's Catholic Church

Psalm 121:1-8 I lift up my eyes to the hills -- from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.

The Rev. James Stirling III -- Pastor, First Congregational Church of Plymouth

Psalm 27:1-14 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh -- my adversaries and foes -- they shall stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident. One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock. Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me! "Come," my heart says, "seek his face!" Your face, Lord, do I seek. Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation! If my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up. Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and they are breathing out violence. I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

The Rev. John Hopko -- Pastor, Ss. Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Church

Isaiah 61:1-4 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion -- to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

The Rev. Dr. Holger Lundin -- Pastor, St. Paul's Lutheran Church

Psalm 139:1,2,7-12,23-24
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,"
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

The Rev. Robert Smolley -- Pastor, St. Michael's Byzantine Catholic Church

Romans 8:31-39 "What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? .... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The Lord's Prayer -- The Rev. Smolley

Reflections: "Through The Darkness ..." -- The Rev. Karl H. Duetzmann

It was a horrible thing that happened yesterday, I wasn't at ground zero, though the feeling in my heart as I sat at the kitchen table felt that way. There was no choking smoke and dust, no sirens, no noise except the commentators words as I sat watching those magnificent towers go down. It was stunning. Not stunning like a diamond, but stunning as in "I was stunned". I am still stunned. I can barely comprehend that these towers, which we have linked with NYC for so many years, are gone. And not just gone, but actually attacked with intent to destroy by people who seem to have no value for human life. To think of the loss of life, which must be in the thousands between the innocents on the airplanes, the innocents in the towers, and the firefighters and law enforcement personnel who were in the buildings trying to help people out when they collapsed.

I am not quite sure what to think of this event, or how to feel about it. It is one thing to watch disaster strike from afar; quite another to be in it, and to realize that it happened here in the US, where such things have not happened before. Random bombing and exloding is something for Isreal or Palestine, or London, Afghanistan, Africa or Europe. But not here. Not in the US.

I am confused and still in shock. As a Christian and a pastor, my prayers go out to those who were trapped in the buildings, and trapped in the airplanes. My prayers go out to their families. My prayers also go out to those who did this, and those who would like to have done this. Though their act was evil incarnate, and they must be brought to justice swiftly and surely, and though we must do what is necessary to guarantee to the best of our ability that this not happen again, still our prayers must be with them, and especially with the rest who would follow there lead. Jesus certainly taught us to pray for our enemies and those who would do us harm. Pray for them, that they might come to know truth and peace.

This has touched us all. Even the youngest among us. A member of this congregation told me about her family sitting at prayer last night sharing their concerns. Her four year old son shared the following prayer, "God make the bad people into good people. And help the president find the bad people and put them in jail ... take away all their money so we can fix the buildings." Out of the mouths of children words of quiet wisdom. And of course I pray for all of us, those of us who will spend much time wondering if we are safe, wherever we are. Always wondering.

I pray that you are all angry about this, but I pray that our anger be the anger of good toward evil, the anger that serves as our energy to drive us into constructive action, and not the senseless anger that cries merely for revenge and offers no real solution.

Let us be angry! I'm angry as hell -- as they killed a lot of innocents! Senselessly, brutally, snuffing out lives in an instant for no reason that any human could comprehend. No matter how hard I have prayed and thought this over with every fiber of my being, I cannot wrap my head around what might move any individual to carry out such an act.

Let us be outraged! Let us be righteously shocked! Let us call for our leaders to root out this evil wherever it is, and to eliminate it forever. But let us also do so with hearts and minds wide open, and not be a mob that does not reflect on its actions, and that quashes evil with only more evil in the name of "good". Be a force for good, and pray for us all that our actions will be done with full understanding of what we are about to do, and not mindlessly smashing and hacking at anything or anyone that gets in our way.

I praying for us, and for our nation, and for our world in this hour. Let us give thanks for what we have, and for those who escaped the clutches of violence. And let us pray for God's presence to heal and to strengthen us, to unite us, and to bind us together in love and peace like the children of God that we all are, that war may no longer be known by any child or adult.

Holy God, as far from us as the most distant star, and as near to us as our own breathing: we are stunned, disbelieving, grieving, and afraid.

Our minds are numb, our hearts are broken, our spirits crushed, our senses shattered. How can this be, O God! How, can this be! We want to rage like the psalmists, shaking our fists at You. How can there be so much hate in this world, and so much pain, and so little we can do to help?

Yet, O God, we know that Your heart was the first to break when the first act of terror struck. We know that You are there, our God, among the rubble, with the victims, in the gentle hands of nurses and doctors, in the strong arms of rescue personnel, in the prayers of Your people around the world.

Even the darkness of this dark day does not dim the light of Your love and grace, O God. We are not alone. Thanks be to You, O God. For in you we know that death and hatred do not have the final word! Amen!!!

** Closing Hymn "Help Us Accept Each Other"
Tune #260 "The Church's One Foundation"

1. Help us accept each other as Christ accepted us;
teach us as sister, brother, each person to embrace.
Be present, God, among us, and bring us to believe
we are ourselves accepted and meant to love and live.
2. Teach us, O God, your lessons, as in our daily life
we struggle to be human and search for hope and faith.
Teach us to care for people, for all. not just for some,
to love them as we find them, or as they may become.
3. Let your acceptance change us, so that we may be moved
in living situations to do the truth in love;
To practice your acceptance, until we know by heart
the table of forgiveness and laughter's healing art.
4. God, for today's encounters with all who are in need.
who hunger for acceptance, for righteousness and bread,
Bring us new eyes for seeing, new hands for holding on;
renew us with your Spirit, God! Free us, make us one!

Benediction -- The Rev. James Stirling III

Leader: Do not be afraid. God goes with you to build bridges of reconciliation, create communities of acceptance, establish villages of compassion. Go in peace, strengthened by God's blessing. Christ is within you, the hope of the glory to come. Go into the world with a tender and daring love. The world is waiting.
People: We go in peace. All that we do, we do for love, and by the Spirit of Jesus who is love.
Leader: The grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God and the nurture of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen!!!

Postlude: Selected Hymns The Rev. Waldo Landquist, Minister of Music