Prayers in the wake of the tragedy in Boston

From Bishop Tom Shaw of Massachusetts:

From Episcopal News Service: “Boston Marathon bombs rock local Episcopalians”

From The Episcopal Church’s Youth Ministries Office: How to talk to youth about the bombings

As we keep the people of Boston – our New England neighbors and those from around the U.S. and the world –  affected by yesterday’s bomb attack in our prayers, the Diocese of Maine offers some prayers to guide your hearts. At the bottom are resources posted by Episcopal Relief & Development for parents and church leaders ministering to children and families in the first week after a disaster.  Lord have mercy.

From the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Gracious God, you walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We pray that the suffering and terrorized be surrounded by the incarnate presence of the crucified and risen one. May every human being be reminded of the precious gift of life you entered to share with us. May our hearts be pierced with compassion for those who suffer, and for those who have inflicted this violence, for your love is the only healing balm we know. May the dead be received into your enfolding arms, and may your friends show the grieving they are not alone as they walk this vale of tears. All this we pray in the name of the one who walked the road to Calvary.

Additional prayers: (courtesy of the Rev. Ron Pogue at his blog e-piphanies.)

• Prayer for Victims of Terrorism

Loving God, Welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism. Comfort their families and all who grieve for them. Help us in our fear and uncertainty, And bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love. Strengthen all those who work for peace, And may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts. Amen.

 – Beliefnet

• A Prayer for First Responders

Blessed are you, Lord, God of mercy, who through your Son gave us a marvelous example of charity and the great commandment of love for one another. Send down your blessings on these your servants, who so generously devote themselves to helping others. Grant them courage when they are afraid, wisdom when they must make quick decisions, strength when they are weary, and compassion in all their work. When the alarm sounds and they are called to aid both friend and stranger, let them faithfully serve you in their neighbor. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 – adapted from the Book of Blessings, #587, by Diana Macalintal

• For the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of Massachusetts, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

– Book of Common Prayer

• For Peace

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

– Book of Common Prayer

• A Collect for Peace

O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

– Book of Common Prayer

A prayer written on September 11, 2001 by the Rev. Dr. Francis H. Wade, then rector of St. Alban’s, Washington, D.C. and interim dean of the National Cathedral:

A Prayer For Those Who Do Great Harm

Almighty God, whose will it is to place awesome power into the hearts, minds and hands of your children, let your care and our compassion be on those who do harm as well as those who are harmed. Lord, you reached across the limits of human understanding to embrace the outcast and the lost, reach now beyond our understanding and embrace those who have caused so much pain and death this day. We cannot but commend them to you for in our hearts are seeds of hatred and in our nostrils the stench of madness. As you touch them in your healing ways, Lord God, dry also that hate that could grow in us, smother the fear that would blind us and deliver us from the temptation to follow instincts that are far from the path you have set before us. In the Name of the One we always hope to follow, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

From Episcopal Relief & Development:
The US Disaster Program has developed the following resources for parents and church leaders ministering to children and families in the first week after a disaster:

Working with Children After a Disaster: Tips for Parents and Teachers. This one-page handout suggests age-appropriate ways to help children process, discuss and pray about a disaster. It can be used as a bulletin insert or sent home with children in religious education classes this weekend.

Individual and Family Preparedness. This one-page handout details ways for families and individuals to make their own disaster preparedness plan, including information and items that should go into a preparedness kit.

Curricula for Ministering to Children, Youth and Teens After a Disaster. This three-module resource provides age-appropriate lesson plans and activities for church school classes and youth group sessions immediately following a tragic event. While it focuses on communities directly impacted, religious educators can adapt the prayer experiences and discussion guides to help children and youth respond to tragic events in other communities.  The modules are:

Note from our US Disaster team: Please be sensitive to the needs of children before exposing them to details about a disaster. While encouraging prayer is always appropriate, let young people take the lead in indicating what they need in terms of information and discussion.  Additionally, it’s also important to let those who are directly impacted by a disaster take the lead in indicating what kind of response they require. Right now church leaders in Massachusetts are asking for your prayers.

These and other resources on disaster response can be found online at  For more information please contact Barb Ballenger at

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