9.11.11 Worship Confessional

This morning was the final installment in our three week series, “Tense.” In previous weeks we looked at our past (remember and give thanks) and our present (awareness and engagement) and today as we considered our future, I asked people to posture themselves with faith, love and hope. This triad is well-known to readers of the New Testament and this morning I taught on the model church in the New Testament, the church in Thessaloniki. In writing to the people of God gathered in that community, Paul Silas and Timothy said:

“We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

What might the futures of our churches look like if we were people who lived by faith, were known for their love and served as a voice of hope in our world? I invite you to envision that kind of future.

As well it was 9/11. I admit I struggled to find the “right” way to help our community not only remember the events of ten years ago but to properly set them into a context of worship.

Question: How did your community of faith remember and acknowledge 9/11?

Here is the piece we included in our worship gathering.

Framing Words: On September 11, 2011, the world as we knew it, changed. To quote the musical group R.E.M, ”it was the end of the world as we knew it.” Our lives were changed. Loss came into our world in a most shocking and tragic way – loss of innocence as a nation, loss of security in our communities, loss of lives and livelihood for thousands. Our generation was confronted with the reality of evil and injustice in real-time, right before our very eyes.

Where were you ten years ago? Who were you with and what were you doing when you first saw or heard the news that planes had been intentionally crashed into the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and an open field in Shanksville, PA? What were your initial thoughts, reactions and emotions?

Today, ten years later, we are going to take a few moments, in the context of our worship, to reflect upon the events of that day, to collect our memories and bring them into the presence of the God who is not only here with us today, but was also present in the midst of the pain, loss and sorrow of that tragic day.  We come to God, our Rock and our Refuge, our only source of hope in this life and the life to come, to remember, to pray and to renew our faith.

Video: Could There Be Peace (The Work of the People)

Prayer Litany (adapted from A Litany of Remembrance)

Leader: Lord of the nations, God of our strength, the images of the tragedy of September 11, 2001 are still vivid in our minds and in our senses. What we saw, how we felt, and what we said still remain for us. Yet with a gentle and caring hand, you have lifted us from the depths of despair and guided us to this time of remembrance ten years later.

Congregation: With truly grateful hearts, we thank you, O Lord.

L: You have given us strength beyond our expectation to meet the challenges of living in our post-9/11 world.

C: With truly grateful hearts, we thank you, O Lord.

L: You have touched us with your healing power and quieted the pain that will never completely go away by giving us hope again, when at first we felt so hopeless.

C: With truly grateful hearts, we thank you, O Lord.

L: As we look back, we remember the lives of those who died so tragically. We remember the heroism of firefighters, police, nurses, doctors, clergy and other ordinary citizens who gave of themselves for the sake of others.

C: We remember with thanksgiving, O Lord.

L: We remember those who stepped forward to stand on our behalf against the evils of terror, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.

C: We remember with thanksgiving, O Lord.

L: We remember the courageous leadership of the heads of our government, standing with us in our sorrow and lending aid, guidance and decisive action to help us move forward.

C: We remember with thanksgiving, O Lord.

L: You alone know what hurts remain among us. Send us your healing Spirit. Comfort those who mourn. Bring us all to the fullness of health and joy that comes from your love.

C: Lord, hear our prayer.

L: As we look forward, O God, we realize the stark reality that terror and evil continues to impact our daily lives. Help us in our fearfulness to place our hope and our trust in you.

C: Lord, hear our prayer.

L: Guide and inspire us and our leaders to make wise decisions for our future, for the future of our nation and our planet, for our people of our nation and for the people of our world. Keep us from self-righteousness, arrogant pride and prejudice. Unite us as your people to champion justice, peace and freedom.

C: Lord, hear our prayer.

L: God of all creation, we long for the day where there indeed would be peace; we long for a world where everything that is wrong would be put to right.  And in faith, love and hope, together we declare the words of the prophet Micah:

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their gods;
and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever. Amen.

Song – This is Our God

Here is our complete worship flow:

  • O This God (Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin)
  • Welcome and Call to Worship
  • Forever Reign (Jason Ingram and Reuben Morgan)
  • God Is Able (Reuben Morgan and Ben Fielding)
  • How He Loves (John Mark McMillan)
  • Announcements and Offering
  • 9/11 Prayer
  • This Is Our God (Chris Tomlin and Jesse Reeves)
  • Message
  • Reprise: O This God

You can learn what other communities of faith experienced this weekend in worship at The Worship Community.

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