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A Prayer Service for Victims of the Asian Tsunami

1. Gathering of the People

We gather to pray for those who are victims of the tsunamis
which have devastated so many places in Asia

Indonesia - particularly North Sumatra and the province of Aceh
Malaysia
Thailand
Burma
Bangladesh
the Maldive Islands
South India and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
and Sri Lanka.

We gather tonight to comfort and express solidarity with one another in our shock at what has happened without warning and to pray for those whose family members have died or are missing or have lost homes and livelihoods and whose towns and communities are devastated.

We have also gathered to pray for those who are involved in the rescue and care of victims and for the rebuilding of lives and communities.

And we have gathered to express our trust in God who never abandons us.

Opening Sentences and Prayer

There is no place where you cannot reach,
God who made the heavens and the earth.

There is no journey which you have not traveled
God who is with us, Jesus the Christ.

There are no people beyond your care,
God who is the Spirit, the Comforter.

Stay with us, Lord
for it is towards evening
when darkness will fall.
Stay with us and with all people.

Stay with us with your love and kindness
and lighten our darkness with your consolation and blessing;
when tragedy and disaster and distress touches our lives
it is to you that we turn with our questions
and our need for reassurance and comfort.

Hear our prayers this evening
for we pray in the name of Jesus
whose arms were outstretched on the cross
to embrace all people
Amen.

2. The service of the Word

Let us look to the scriptures for words of comfort and hope:

A Psalm of comfort and assurance in God's Presence: Psalm 63:1-8

O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land
where there is no drinking water.

So I have looked for you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.

Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.

So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips

when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.

My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

The Gospel Reading: John 1:1-5, 14

Reflection:

The light shines in the darkness and
the darkness did not overcome it.

We are not alone- nor are our relatives and friends back in Sri Lanka or India or elsewhere alone although they are far away.

Just three days ago at Christmas we read the scriptures of Christ as God's word coming to live among us - the light shining defiantly in the darkness. We celebrated the birth of the child - new life - Love being born among us and within us.

It was easy to sing joy to the world as many of us delighted in the magic of the children performing the nativity play just four nights ago in this church on Christmas Eve. But now for many people everything is so different: The new life of the birth celebrated on Christmas Day stands juxtaposed with the tragic images of death and destruction today - of drowned children and adults and the terrible tragic stories as relatives search for their loved ones in debris dumped by the huge power of the sea destroying communities. In communities right around the Indian Ocean there is wailing not festivity. Some of us here have lost relatives and friends. For us there is a deep sadness.

Tonight therefore we need to hear more than ever the Christmas message that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it - and we need to reaffirm more intensely than ever that love is born - that love is born as Michael Leunig expresses in his poem -

even with a dark and troubled face
when hope is dead
and in the most unlikely place
love is born.

This evening we hear the good news once again which is for all people - that God who made the heavens and the earth does not abandon us even to the destructive power of the elements but God comes to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Flesh of our flesh and lives among us sharing our human vulnerability.

And for us gathered here tonight - God is with us
in our worry and concern,
in our shock and grief,
in our feelings of being a long way away from the people and places we love
in our feelings of helplessness
and God is with us in many tangible acts of goodwill and solidarity as we come together as a community and support one another at a time like this.

The Savior who was born in Bethlehem is the same Savior who died on the cross bearing our 
griefs and carrying our sorrows and who rose to new life.

This season of Christmas reminds us then that the light shines defiantly in the darkness and the dawn will break and the shadows will flee away. This is our comfort, our inspiration to do something to help and this is our hope and our faith tonight.

So let us express this faith as we offer both unspoken and spoken prayers - the light shines in the darkness We are not alone. Our God is among us - Thanks be to God.

3. Prayers of the People

Bidding: Lord hear us
Response: Lord hear our prayers.

Almighty and gracious God, we come to you with our hearts full of prayers both spoken and those that cannot be put into words. As the ancient psalmist wrote You are our refuge and strength, the light in the darkness, and so with confidence we offer our prayers to you for a world shaken by violent powerful forces beneath the ocean and terrifying destructive tidal waves or tsunamis.

Gather us under your wings, calm our fears and keep our faith strong.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.

At a time like this we stand in awe of the power of nature - the earth and the sea - with its terrible capacity to destroy as well as to save and we are reminded of our vulnerability as human creatures who inhabit this vast earth. We bring to you in prayer our questions, our humility and also our trust in this hour of need.
Lord hear us.
Lord hear our prayers.

We pray for those who grieve the loss of family, friends and neighbors, for those who are injured, those separated and searching for family, for those who have been traumatized …………………..we ask for your continued healing presence in their lives and we commend to your care all those who have died.
Lord Hear us.
Lord hear our prayers.

We give to your care all those who have been involved in rescuing people and caring for the injured in hospitals and clinics and counseling the traumatized. Be with the churches and other religious organizations as they minister to their people. Sustain them through this time of tremendous loss and stress.
Lord hear us.
Lord hear our prayers.

We commend to your care those are working in debris removal and cleaning up. We especially pray for those burdened by unimaginable losses and who have found themselves like refugees in their own locality. May shelter and clean water and food and medicines and comfort be supplied as quickly as possible as governments and other organizations work together to bring relief to all communities without discrimination. We ask that the many generous gestures of practical aid and the emotional and spiritual support already offered by local communities and from around the world will encourage and lift their spirits.
Lord hear us.
Lord hear our prayers.

We pray for those - especially the poor like fisherfolk and tourist industry workers - who live along the coast and whose livelihoods have been lost or impacted by the disaster and ask that you would raise them up and bless them. We pray for those whose workplaces have become unsafe and who face an uncertain future and ask that they may find the assistance they need.
Lord hear us.
Lord hear our prayers.

We pray for communities that have been devastated - especially those in Sri Lanka and Aceh who have also suffered the conflict and terror of war - that they may live and learn and support one another and have joy in their lives once again. May this disaster bring people together to rebuild their cities, and to fill their courts and government services with justice, their plates with food and their streets with music,. Bring them peace and healing from all evil.
Lord hear us.
Lord hear our prayers.

We pray for migrants among us who feel homesick and far away from loved ones and their land of birth at this time; those who are trying to get in contact with family and who are worried and frustrated and who long to embrace their families. We especially pray for those who have suffered the trauma of fear and loss and separation before as refugees. Comfort families across the distance.
Lord hear us.
Lord hear our prayers.

We give thanks to God for the blessing in our lives, especially the gifts we so often take for granted until they are in danger of being taken away from us - the gift of family, friends, a home, our possessions. Most of all we praise God for the gift of life itself.
Lord hear us,
Lord hear our prayers.

We pray for all people of the human family in countries around the world affected by this disaster and other natural disasters. O God, Great Shepherd of the sheep, gather us all in your arms and lead us safely within the one fold of your love. Lord hear us, Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours now and forever. 
Amen.

4. Blessing:

In times of disaster and great suffering we can only turn to God
who is our help. We have done this tonight.

Go on your way strengthened with hope.

…and now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you all evermore. 
Amen.

----------

Excerpts from a service held at Homebush Uniting Church, Sydney, Australia on 28th December 2004.

(Homebush Uniting Church is located in the midst of a Sri Lankan migrant community, many of whom attended this service. The service was prepared and led by the Rev. Laurel Barr.)

Some of the prayers use and adapt prayers by
1. Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Prayers for Life's Particular Moments p.99
2. Christine Iverson, Liturgical Resources in Response to Terrorist Events, www.cwserp.org/congregations/liturgy
3. Faith amidst the Flames, The Catholic Weekly, www.catholicweekly.com.au

See Also:

More Christian Prayers

More Prayers Useful to Many faiths

All Prayers

Prayer and Spirituality Infocenter

 

 

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