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A Liturgy for Grieving a National Tragedy

We humbly offer Doug McKelvey’s “Liturgy for Grieving a National Tragedy” in the wake of recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Texas, in case you need words to lean on during this time. You can download this liturgy and others at or access it in the Every Moment Holy app.

Leader: O God who gathers what has been scattered,

People: Shelter us now in the shadow of your wings.

O Christ who binds our wounds,

Be our great healer.

O Spirit who enters our every grief,

Intercede now for this hurting people, in this broken land.

Be present in the midst of this far-reaching pain, O Lord, for we are reeling again, at news of another loss of life that touches us all; news of flourishing diminished; of individuals harmed; of pain imposed, not only upon victims and their families who bear now the immediate brunt of it—but also upon our nation. For we are connected as a people, and this hurt, this grief, touches us all.

Engage our imaginations and move our hearts to compassion, O Lord, that we would interact with these casualties, not as news stories or statistics, but as our own sisters and brothers, flesh and blood, divine image-bearers, irreplaceable individuals whose losses will leave gaping holes in homes, friendships, workplaces, churches, schools, organizations, and neighborhoods.

Be merciful to those now wounded. Be present with those now bereaved.

You do not run from our brokenness, O God. You move ever toward those in need. Your heart is always inclined toward those who suffer. Now let your mercies be active through the hands, the words, and the compassionate care of those who willingly enter this sadness to console and to serve.

Be with all who move toward this need:

the helpers, the counselors, the first responders, those who offer aid and protection, the pastors and intercessors, those who meet immediate practical needs, those who seek to heal physical wounds, and those who come after to carry on the long, hard work of rebuilding families and hearts and lives and community.

Grant each of them wisdom, courage, vision, sympathy, and strength to serve effectively in their various capacities.

Even in the shadow of such tragedy, let us not lose hope. Give us eyes to see the rapid movements of mercy rushing to fill these newly wounded spaces. Let us see in this the echoes of your own mercy and compassion— a foretaste of your kingdom coming to earth. And move our own hearts also, equipping us to intercede, to act, and to respond however we are able.

Move, O Holy Spirit, in the midst and in the aftermath of this tragedy, in the wake of our wounding, in the shock and the sorrow.

Arrest the hearts and stay the hands of any who even now might be plotting further evil and violence against others, O Christ.

Turn them from hatred. Turn their hearts to you.

You once brooded over the formless chaos of ancient waters and brought forth the order and flourishing of creation. Do so again, O Spirit of God.

From the chaos of this tragedy call forth new life and order and flourishing. Take even what our adversary might have meant for evil, and from it bring forth eternal good.

You alone have strength to carry this people.

Carry us now, O Lord.

You alone have wisdom and power to heal the wounds of a nation.

Heal us, O Lord.

You alone have compassion enough to enter our widespread grief, and turn it to hope.

Be merciful, O Christ!



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