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Suggested Worship Elements in Response to Haiti Earthquake

January 15, 2010

These resources were created* for congregations, small groups and private devotions as we seek to serve the people of Haiti and to understand tragedies and natural disasters.

*With gratitude to our ecumenical partners for sharing the work of the Rev. Roderick Dwayne Belin, pastor of new church start,  Kairos Community African Methodist Episcopal Church, Nashville, Tennessee, from which these resources were revised.


Statement
How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
– 1 John 3: 17-18

Our Brothers and Sisters in Haiti suffered a terrible tragedy on Tuesday, January 12, 2010.  The massive loss of life and the cost of damages caused by the earthquake will not be estimated for some time.  So many homes, government buildings, shops and service buildings have been destroyed.  Men, women, boys and girls are suffering as they wait for medical treatment in overcrowded hospitals and on the sidewalks outside. 

Haiti is one of the poorest countries on the earth and this tragedy increases the suffering of God's people in Haiti immeasurably. It is estimated that one-third of the 3 million people in Haiti are affected by the earthquake. The images coming out of Haiti show people searching for family members and loved ones through rubble and debris. 

People are desperately in need of our prayers and our help.  We can help.  The United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), called to meet the deep needs of God's children with urgency, are already present in Haiti through our missionaries, global partners and Church World Service, working to search, rescue, provide water, to comfort and minister. 

Readings for the Second Sunday After Epiphany Year C
Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 36:5-10
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
John 2:1-11

Possible themes to explore from these passages in light of the earthquake in Haiti include:
The enduring love of God for all creation
"The Beloved Community"
Extreme hospitality
Unity
When human limitation meets God's power
The gifts of God to a broken people (water/baptism; wine/communion; gifts of the Spirit)
The gifts of God for the common good

Appropriate passages for use in other ways:
Psalm 18
Psalm 46

Hymns suggestions:
O God Our Help in Ages Past
When Peace Like A River
Be Not Dismayed Whate'er Betide
From Every Stormy Wind that Blows
His Eye is On the Sparrow

A Litany Crying Out for God's Mercy

For the people of Haiti who are suffering the affects of the earthquake,
O God, we cry out to You for Your mercy.
For those still clinging to life beneath the rubble
O God, we cry out to You for Your mercy.
For each and every man, woman, boy and girl who are looking for loved ones and hoping to find them alive,
O God, we cry out to You for Your mercy.
For the workers from all over the world who labor to rescue, keep peace, minister and heal,
O God, we cry out to You for Your mercy.
For the ministers and laypeople who are with the suffering ministering to them,
O God, we cry out to You for Your mercy.
For the memories of your children who lost their lives in this tragedy,
O God, we cry out to You for Your mercy, Your strength and Your grace.
For the people of Haiti and for all who suffer in any place in this hour,
O God, we cry out to You for Your mercy. AMEN

A Prayer for How to Help
God, we acknowledge that You are here, that You never left us even when so much seems to be falling apart. We are overcome by grief as we see the images of tragedy, as we hear the cries for help, and feel the pain of others' suffering. We know You hear the cries from our hearts and bring light to darkness, joy to sorrow, healing to pain. We come, God, seeking Your guiding hand in how we can respond.

How can we express Your love, O God? How can we be Your hands?  Give us strength and courage to do what pleases You. Putting Your love in action by word and deed to make Your presence known. Loving Parent, Healer, Restorer, and Source of all hope, remove from us those things that prevent Your love from flowing through us. May we make a difference in someone's life today that they may come to know Your love and put their trust in You.   

AMEN

(This prayer was revised from a prayer written by Carlene L. Douglas, Nashville, TN)

A Prayer for People Still Trapped in the Rubble

O God, Creator and Sustainer of all that is, we come to You with our hearts heavy with grief and our minds filled with questions.  Our hearts are filled with anguish for those still trapped in the rubble in Haiti who are still hoping and praying to be found.
O God our Comforter! Wrap your loving arms around our Haitian sisters and brothers who are longing to see their family members and loved ones again.
O God our Sustainer! Empower and strengthen rescue workers, keepers of the peace, medical personnel and preachers of your Gospel with your Holy Spirit.
O God our Peace! Breathe on Haiti.
O God our Healer! Heal broken bodies, troubled minds and sorrowing hearts.
O God our Joy! Penetrate the grief, pain and sorrow by the great power of Your presence that all may know, even in tragedies, that you are God.
In Jesus' holy name, AMEN

Haiti – Caring Enough to Ask Why
A Meditation

What do we think about what has happened in Haiti? Even the people who bequeathed to us the writings that make up the book of Genesis wrestled with why tragedies happen. I suppose we are no closer to finding a satisfactory answer now than then. Well, let me just speak for myself: I have no answers, but I care. I care deeply. I care enough to act and I care enough to ask.

Yes, I will contribute financially to the relief effort and encourage friends and those I serve to do the same. But, beyond this, I will do the much harder work of grieving the dead. I will sit still, and at least try to wrap my mind around the scope of the loss of life. I will work hard not to hear the big number of the nameless, faceless others who died in the tragedy. Instead, I will try to mourn individual people. I will look up and out and I will remember them.

Of course, I will ask "why?" But having the answer is not as important as caring enough to ask the question.

 

*We are grateful to our ecumenical partners for sharing the work of the Rev. Roderick Dwayne Belin, pastor of new church start,  Kairos Community African Methodist Episcopal Church, Nashville, Tennessee, from which these resources were revised.

 

 

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