A Sept. 11 litany from the National Council of Churches in the U.S.

A Litany of Remembrance, Penitence and Hope

We light a candle in remembrance for all those who suffered and died on Sept. 11, 2001, in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

We light a candle to remember those who still live and who suffer because of the events of that day.

One:    When we remember the stockbrokers, office workers, maintenance workers, bystanders, window-washers and all the others who worked together so valiantly to help each other, we can say together,

All:    We remember great courage.

One:    When we recall the firefighters who rushed upstairs as most everyone else was racing out, we can say together,

All:    We remember selfless service.

One:    When we recall the police officers who stood to protect and defend the people and performed their duties until the towers came crashing down on top of them, we can say together,

All:    We remember selfless sacrifice for the safety of others.

One:    When we recall the thousands of workers, women and men and, old and young, single and married, American-born and those born in countries around the world who did not escape the buildings, we can say together,

All:    We remember the loss of human life.

One:    When we recall those citizens who rushed to help, did all they could to help, we can say together,

All:    We remember and give thanks for dutiful commitment to those in distress.

One:    When we recall the people who stood in line at the nation’s blood banks to make living donations from their very bodies, we can say together,

All:    We give thanks for those who live on to pass on life and love.

One:    When we remember the millions of Americans who gave so generously of their life and labor to endow funds to help the survivors and their families recover from their losses, we can say together,

All:    We are grateful for generosity.

Remembrance begins with deep, personal identification. It begins with remembering the affliction of our brothers and sisters, and marking their pain as our own. Remembrance is a sacred moment when we raise up and hold to the light of the eternal moment, the good who have passed.

We light a candle, in penitence, recognizing that we have not done enough to address the sources of anger, hate, dehumanization, rage and indignation that lead to acts of violence

One:    In our sadness, horror and shock we acknowledge that our own fears turned murderous and we have sought revenge, sometimes against even the innocent.

All:    We confess and regret our own anger and recognize its dangers to our spirits, our health, our community, and others.

One:    In the midst of the aftermath of the events of September 11th, 2001 we have been tempted to seek only our own good, hear only our own truth, acknowledge only our own suffering

All:    We know that peace will come to us and to our children only when the concerns of justice anywhere become the subject of political and social will everywhere, and that no justice leads to no peace

One:    In striving for national security and domestic peace we run the risk of confusing might for right and participating in the very behaviors we condemn

All:    Guard and guide our country that in our search for security we may not trample the rights of the innocent nor disregard the rule of law. Let us not confuse leadership within the global community as the voice for the whole community.

Repentance means to turn away from wrong deeds. Repentance means choosing instead deeds which require moral restraint, and are more beneficial to all persons who suffer.

We light a candle to light the way to a better world for our children and our children’s children, and all the children of God.

One:    We recall with joy the unity we felt in the outpouring of help, kindness, thoughtful words and deeds from at home and around the world.

All:    We must hold firmly to our unity, borne forward now not of tragedy but of loving kindness.

One:    We place fresh confidence in international organizations and conversations that bring the diverse gifts of the world to the problems of poverty, injustice, terror and strife

All:    We long for wise policies that forego short term gain for long term stability, justice and peace.

One:    In a year filled with tragedy we dare to hope for an era yet to come in which the slaughter of innocents, greed, the ambitions of power, and cultural, racial and religious bigotries are but memories of a dim and unenlightened past.

Unison Prayer:

God of the ages, before your eyes all empires rise and fall yet you are changeless. Be near us in this age of terror and in these moments of remembrance. Uphold those who work and watch and wait and weep and love. By your Spirit give rise in us to broad sympathy for all the peoples of your earth. Strengthen us to comfort those who mourn and work in large ways and small for those things that make for peace. Bless the people and leaders of this nation and all nations so that warfare, like slavery before it, may become only a historic memory. We pray in the strong name of the Prince of Peace.



Liturgy by Rev. Eileen W. Lindner and Rev. Marcel A. Welty, National Council of Churches

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