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A Liturgy for Those Who Suffer Loss from Fire, Flood, or Storm

We first shared this liturgy in March 2020, in the wake of a devastating tornado in Nashville. Nearly one year later, we shared it for our friends in Texas after their widespread blackout. And now, we share it for all who are reeling from their own devastation after this weekend’s tornadoes, especially in southern Kentucky. We’re saddened that this liturgy continues to prove so relevant, but once again, we hope and pray that it may lend words to a situation that defies description.

Leader: O Christ in Whom Our Lives are Hidden, People: fix now our hope in that which alone might sustain it.

O Christ in Whom Our Treasures are Secure, fix now our hope in you.

In light of all that was so suddenly lost, O Lord, in light of all we had gathered but could not keep, comfort us.

Our nerves are frayed, O God. Our sense of place and permanence is shaken, so be to us a foundation.

We were shaped by this place, and by the living of our lives in it, by conversations and labors and studies, by meals prepared and shared, by love incarnated in a thousand small actions that became as permanent a part of this structure as any nail or wire or plank of wood.

Our home was to us like a handprint of heaven. It was our haven, and now we are displaced, and faced with the task of great labors—not to move forward in this life, but merely to rebuild and restore what has been lost.

Have mercy, Lord Christ.

What we have lost here, are the artifacts of our journey in this world, the very things that reminded us of your grace expressed in love and friendship, and in shared experience.

Let our rebuilding be a declaration that a day will come when all good things are permanent, when disaster and decay will have no place, when dwellings will stand forever, and when no more lives will be disrupted by death, tragedy, reversal, or loss.

So by that eternal vision, shape our vision for what this temporary home might become in its repair, O Lord, that in that process of planning and rebuilding we might also streamline our lives for stewardship, for service, and for hospitality in the years ahead.

But those are all tasks for tomorrow. We do not even know yet today the full measure of what we have lost.

Today is for mourning. So let us grieve together as those who know the world is broken, but who yet hold hope of its restoration.

A moment of silence is observed. Then any who wish to speak aloud their specific expressions of grief may do so. The leader then continues with these words read by all:

Comfort us, O Lord, in the wake of what has overtaken us. Shield us, O Lord, from the hurts we cannot bear. Shelter us, O Lord, in the fortress of your love.

Shepherd us, O Lord, as we wake each new morning, faced with the burdens of a hard pilgrimage we would not have chosen. But as this is now our path, let us walk it in faith, and let us walk it bravely, knowing that you go always before us.


—from Every Moment Holy by Doug McKelvey

Please join us in praying for all those in Kentucky who suffered loss of any kind.

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