Worship Outline

Worship Outline

This worship outline was first provided by the worship committee for the Christian Peace Witness worship service held at the Washington National Cathedral in 2007. We offer it as an aid for local witnesses across the country to pray for peace. It follows a similar format as the first CPW worship service and includes most of the readings and music from the Cathedral service. Please feel free to use and change this as appropriate for your own local setting, and please credit the authors when using specific readings.

A time of gathering with low lights, sober music, and quiet contemplation. A single Christ candle (or peace candle) is lighted up front on altar or communion table, with room for more candles to be added.


Opening Prayer


Taize Chant
Suggestions “Within our darkest night” or “When the night becomes dark”

**Readers for this section come forward together with unlit candles as chant ends, and each lights his/her candle from the Christ/peace candle and places it on the altar or communion table just before they speak.

**A Reading from the book of Lamentations:
Reader 1: My eyes are spent with weeping, my stomach churns,
My bile is poured out on the ground
Because of the destruction of my people.

Reader 2: Look, O Lord, and consider!
The young and the old are lying on the ground in the streets;
Our young men and young women have fallen by the sword.

Reader 1: For these things we weep; our eyes flow with tears.
Our elders sit in silence; our young bow their heads to the ground.
We seek a comforter, one to revive our courage.

Reader 2: Cry aloud to the Lord! Let tears stream down like a torrent.
Arise, cry out in the night! Pour out your heart like water before the Lord!
Lift up your hands to God, for the lives of your children!

Reader 1:
But call this to mind, and therefore have hope:

Unison: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
God’s mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness, O Lord!
(excerpts from Lamentations 1-3)

**A Reading from a U.S. soldier (if possible, have a veteran read this passage)
When I traveled outside the prison walls on convoys, terror surged through my heart. I was not afraid of being killed. If you live by the sword, by the sword shall you die. If I died with a loaded rifle, I could not be angry with God. The terror that filled me … was the possibility of becoming one who kills. Once while driving outside, I pointed my rifle as I always did, out the window of our armored humvee. Through the sites of my rifle I saw the faces of three young shepherd boys – probably eight years old, each. I realized in that moment that I had just pointed a loaded weapon at three eight year old boys.
How was I, an ambassador of the love of Jesus Christ, supposed to recall that day?
How can I talk of the freedom of Christ, while playing the role of captor? How can I talk of faith when I only move from place to place by means of guns pointed in all directions - even at eight year old shepherd boys?
(source: Joshua Casteel, Iraqi Veteran, Conscientious Objector, Catholic Peace Fellowship, West Coast Tour, 2005)

**A reading from an Iraqi diary, Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Another piece of particularly bad news … Several students riding a bus to school were assassinated. No one knows why – it isn’t clear. Heading off for their end-of-year examination- having stayed up the night before to study in the heat. When they left their houses, they were probably only worried about whether they’d pass or fail- their parents sending them off with words of encouragement and prayer. Now they’ll never come home.
(source: http://www.riverbendblog.blogspot.com/)

**A reading from a young woman in Baghdad, March 28, 2006
There were dozens of people standing around in a bleak group. Their expressions varied- grief, horror, resignation. It’s a very specific look, one you will find only outside the Baghdad morgue. It’s a look that tells you they are walking into the morgue, where the bodies lay in rows, and that they pray they do not find what they are looking for.
One frenzied woman in a black abaya was struggling to make her way inside, two relatives holding her back.
“See that woman- they found her son,” someone said. The woman continued to struggle, her legs buckling under her, her wails filling the afternoon.
(Source: http://www.riverbendblog.blogspot.com/)

Musical Response:
Suggestions: “If the war goes on” Text: John L. Bell and Grahm Maule, 1997, revised November 2002; Music: John L. Bell, 1997
(see http://peace.mennolink.org/resources/ifthewargoeson.html to download free music)
or “O God, my God” from The New Century Hymnal, General Synod XX, 1995, #515

**Witness (If possible, invite a speaker who has first hand experience of the lamentation of war - an Iraqi, a veteran, or a family of someone serving, wounded, or killed in Iraq)


Taize Chant
Suggestions: “Stay with us” or “By your cross and all the wounds you suffered”

**Readers for this section come forward together with unlit candles as chant ends, and each lights their candle from the Christ/peace candle and places it on the altar or communion table just before they speak.

**A reading from the Gospel of Matthew
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lemsabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
(27:27-31, 46)

**A reading from the testimony of Abu Ghraib Detainee
Then [the guard] brought a box and made me stand on it, and he started punishing me and put electrical wires on my fingers and toes and on my penis, and I had a bag over my head. Then he was saying ‘which switch is on for electricity?’
They were laughing, taking pictures, and they were stepping on our hands with their feet. They forced us to walk like dogs on our hands and knees, and if we didn’t do that, they start hitting us hard on our face and chest with no mercy.
(source: combined testimony of two Iraqi detainees from the Abu Ghraib prison, given to US military investigators, January 2004, obtained through the Freedom of Information act.)

Musical Response: Suggestion: “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”

**Witness (if possible, invite someone to reflect on the crucifixion of Christ as it continues among the least of these today, or use the following prayer)

**Congregational Prayer (optional)
Leader: Jesus, our Tortured Brother,
In this world, so many are forced to walk your path today – the suffering and pain, the humiliation, sense of betrayal and abandonment, for those with power, the Romans of today, continue to condemn others to modern crosses.
People: Lord, have mercy upon us.
Leader: You said that what was done to the least of these was done to you, and so each day,
You are tortured anew.
People: Lord, have mercy upon us.
Leader: Jesus, our Guardian of the Wounded and Tortured,
Bid us to look into the secret prisons – the unmarked graves – the hearts and minds of torture survivors,
Bid us to wipe the tears of the families of those who decapitated bodies were cast into the open sea,
Bid us to embrace the open wounds of the tortured.
People: Lord, have mercy upon us.
Leader: Jesus Guiding Spirit, Teach us to be in solidarity with those who hang from these crosses,
Call out to those who torture, “Know the evil you have done and repent.”
Call out to the rest of us, “What meaning does love have if you allow torture to continue unopposed?”
People: Lord, grant us courage; Lord, grant us love.
Leader: In the name of all the tortured of the world, give us the strength, give us the courage, give us the will to bring this horror to an end, in the name of love, justice and the God of us all. Amen.
(source: adapted from a prayer by Sr. Dianna Ortiz, OSU, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coaltion, www.paxchristiusa.org)


Taize Chant
Suggestions: “The Lord is My Light” or “Come and fill our hearts with your peace”

**Readers for this section come forward together with unlit candles as chant ends, and each lights their candle from the Christ/peace candle and places it on the altar or communion table just before they speak.

**A reading from the First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians
You, beloved, are not in darkness, for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
(5:4-6, 8-11)

**A reading from Sheila Provencher, Christian Peacemaker Teams-Iraq
Lately I feel so tired. There’s always a part of me that wants just to sleep; sleep and make all of THIS – the war, my government’s policies and actions, the counter-violence of the insurgency, all the greed and sin in the world – just go away for awhile. I can identify with the apathy of citizens who give in to violence: yes, just make the evil go away, press the button, fire the missile, send the young ones off to war. Take any way out. There is no way out. But there is a way through. I tasted it the other day, when I was tired and wanted to hide, but instead went down the street to visit an Iraqi family who are going through a troubled time. On the way, I met little Huda in the street. I gave her a kiss; she gave me a piece of candy. Simple relationships, simple human connections – that’s the way through.

**Witness (If possible, invited someone to share about where they find hope amidst war and destruction)

Musical Response
“God of Grace and God of Glory” Harry Emerson Fosdick, 1930
“Bearers of Peace” Bernadette Farrell, 1999, OCP Publications
“This Is My Song” Text: Lloyd Stone, 1934; Tune: Finlandia


Call to Offering and directions for candlelight procession (if appropriate)


A Prayer for Peace with Iraq (Iona Community http://www.iona.org.uk/)
Leader: Lord of hope and compassion, Friend of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar,
Who called our ancestors in faith to journey to a new future,
We remember before you the country of Iraq from which they were summoned,
Ancient land of the Middle East, realm of the two rivers,
Birthplace of great cities and of civilization.
People: May we who name ourselves children of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, call to mind all the peoples of the Middle East:
Leader: Those who guard and celebrate the Torah; those for whom the Word has walked on earth and lived among us; those who follow their prophet, who listened for the word in the desert and shaped a community after what he heard.
People: Lord of reconciliation, God of the painful sacrifice uniting humankind,
We long for the day when you will provide for all nations of the earth your blessing of peace.

Leader: But now when strife and war are at hand, help us to see in each other a family likeness.
People: Keep hatred from the threshold of our hearts, and preserve within us a generous spirit which recognizes in both foe and friend a common humanity.
Leader: This we ask in the name of the one who came to offer us the costly gift of abundant life.
Unison: AMEN

A Call to Action (or use the following benediction)

A Franciscan Benediction
May God bless you with discomfort: at easy answers, at half-truths, and superficial relationships – so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger: at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed: for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen.

Processional Music for Candlelight March
Suggestions: “Siyahamb’ Ekukhanyen’ Kwenkhos’” (“We are marching in the light of God”) or “This Little Light of Mine”

Other Worship Resources:
From the National Council of Churches http://www.ncccusa.org/iraq/firstanniversary/iraqanniversarythree.html

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