A Litany Against Violence, A Prayer for Orlando

The Presbyterian Church of Oronoco, Minnesota

First Congregational Church UCC – Zumbrota, Minnesota

I’m sitting here trying to come up with something to say – some words of comfort, of defiance in the face of terror and evil and hate, of reassurance of God’s grace and everlasting love despite the staggering violence that occurred at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL and all of the God-awful (and I really do mean God awful) words of hate-filled response spouted by other “pastors” in other parts of the country.

But I do not have the words.

And so I turn to Scripture: 7 Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. 8 The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. 10 This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins. 11 Dear friends, if God loved us this way, we also ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God remains in us and his love is made perfect in us. 13 This is how we know we remain in him and he remains in us, because he has given us a measure of his Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the savior of the world. 15 If any of us confess that Jesus is God’s Son, God remains in us and we remain in God. 16 We have known and have believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them. 17 This is how love has been perfected in us, so that we can have confidence on the Judgment Day, because we are exactly the same as God is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love because God first loved us. 20 If anyone says, I love God, and hates a brother or sister, he is a liar, because the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister who can be seen can’t love God, who can’t be seen. 21 This commandment we have from him: Those who claim to love God ought to love their brother and sister also. (1 John 4:7-21)

God is love, and love – not hate, not violence, not death, not fear – L.O.V.E. is from God.

To celebrate that love …
To send the message to the rest of the country and the rest of the world that love does indeed drive out fear …
To remind each other of the power and presence of that love …
To speak to that love for ALL PEOPLE …

We spoke the following litany and prayer in our worship service this past Sunday.

It focused on the violence done in Orlando, but also the other horrific and unacceptable acts of gun violence around the country. As we went through the litany, we lit candles to bring stronger and stronger light – the Light of the World – into the darkness.

So join us in our Litany Against Violence, our Prayer for Orlando (much of which came from the Right Reverend Stephen T. Lane, Episcopal Bishop of Maine)

A Litany Against Violence, A Prayer for Orlando
Opening Scripture: If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, and the light around me turn to night,” darkness is not dark to you, O Lord; the night is as bright as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike. – Psalm 139:11-12

Giver of Life and Love, you created all people … ALL PEOPLE … as one family and called us to live together in harmony and peace. Surround us – ALL of your beloved children – as we face the challenges and tragedies of gun violence – Aurora, Colorado; Charleston, South Carolina; Newtown, Connecticut; Littleton, Colorado; San Bernadino, California; Fort Hood, Texas; and, most recently, the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Light red candle.

For our dear ones, for our neighbors, for strangers, and for those known to you alone,
Loving God,
Make us instruments of your peace.


Merciful God, bind up the wounds of all who suffer from gun violence – those wounded and in need of your healing, those left alone and grieving, those who’s emotional scars have them living in fear and anxiety and distress, and those who struggle to get through one more day. Bless them with your presence, and help them find hope.

Light orange candle.

For all whose lives are forever marked by the scourge of gun violence,
Loving God,
Make us instruments of your peace.

God Who Remembers, may we not forget those who have died – more than 53,000 people just last year! – in the gun violence that we have allowed to become routine. We especially lift up the 50 people who lost their lives in Orlando just a mere seven days ago. Receive them into your heart and comfort us with your promise of eternal love and care.

Light yellow candle.

For all who’s beautiful, God-given lives have been cut short by gun violence,
Loving God,
Make us instruments of your peace.


God of Compassion, we give you thanks for first responders – for police officers, firefighters, and EMTs, and all those whose duties bring them to the streets, the lobbies, the malls and the homes where the horror of gun violence takes place day after day. Give them courage and sound judgment in the heat of the moment, and grant them compassion for the victims.

Light green candle.

For those who risk their lives and their serenity as they rush to our aid,
Loving God,
Make us instruments of your peace.


God of Open Arms, we pray especially for the LGBTQ community as they process all of the pain, frustration, anger, and anguish of being targeted by this most recent and horrible attack. Help us to reach out to our brothers and sisters in ways most helpful to them – to be ears to hear their cries of sorrow and outrage, to be arms to surround them in a supportive embrace or to hold them up in a moment of overwhelming emotion, to be voices lifted in solidarity as we speak out against such raw and volatile hate. Let ALL PEOPLE see your love through us.

Light blue candle.

For all our LGBTQ brothers and sisters who feel abandoned, targeted, outraged, vulnerable, and in need of comfort,
Loving God,
Make us instruments of your peace.


God of Justice, help us, your church, find our voice. Empower us to change this broken world and to protest the needless deaths caused by gun violence – Aurora, Colorado; Charleston, South Carolina; Newtown, Connecticut; Littleton, Colorado; San Bernadino, California; Fort Hood, Texas; Orlando, Florida, and so many more. Give us power to rise above our fear that nothing can be done, and grant us the conviction to advocate for change.

Light purple candle.

For your dream of love and harmony,
Loving God,
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Life,
God of Justice,
God of Healing,
God of Love,
Have mercy on us all.

We pray for the LGBTQ community around the world, but particularly here in this country we call home, as together we confront this devastating act of terror – the worst shooting massacre in 126 years. Our hearts are broken. Surround us with your Spirit of healing, your graceful presence in the midst of grief.

Save us from hate, from prejudice, from the ways we turn away from you and from each other. Embolden us to follow Jesus in crossing lines of hostility and suspicion, building bridges between neighbors, religions, and regions of your world. Save us from the contempt that leads to violence, and also the contempt that leads – in the wake of violence – to an even more fragmented, segregated, polarized world. Make us a people of faith, not fear.

And above all, save us from that most banal form of sin – the sin of numbness and weak resignation. Save us from accepting this as “the way things are.” Come, Holy Spirit. Breathe in us, inspire us, and wake us up — so we might renew our participation in your making “thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Have mercy on us.
Save us.
Breathe in us.
Awaken us.
And make all things new.

And today, more than any other day, make us instruments of your peace and hope which you promised would pass all understanding.

In Jesus’ name, we pray.