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A Service for Peace in a Time of War

by The Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Updated 22 March 2003 with new Litany

 

During this time of war, Christians are reminded of the continual call for peace in Holy Scripture and the bid to stand as ensigns of peace in the world.  The following order may be used in whole or in part in parishes and in community gatherings to pray for peace.  Texts have been adapted for interfaith/ecumenical use.

 

L = Leader      C = Congregation/People

Call to Worship:

L.  Sisters and brothers, the conflict of nations has sadly escalated into war, however unwanted.  A mixture of thoughts and feelings fill us all:  fear for those standing in harm’s way,  worry about the possible length of the conflict,  concern for our own personal safety and that of our loved ones,  sorrow at the seeming necessity of war for the sake of peace.  As people of faith and citizens of this great nation, peace is indeed our deepest desire:  peace for our hearts, peace for our land, and peace for all the world.  Therefore let us call upon the God of our faith to be with us during this time, making peace our constant prayer to the One who alone can bring peace that endures.

 

L. Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,

C. and grant us your salvation.

 

L. Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,

C. for God will speak peace to the people, to those who turn to God in their hearts.

 

L. Surely God's salvation is at hand for those who fear God,

C. that God's glory may dwell in our land.

 

L. Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;

C. righteousness and peace will kiss each other.

 

L. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,

C. and righteousness will look down from the sky.

 

L. The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.

C. Righteousness will go before the Lord, and will make a path for God's steps.    (Psalm 85:7-13)

 

 

Opening Hymn: “God of Grace and God of Glory”      tune: Cwm Rhondda

(adapted below for interfaith use)

1   God of grace and God of glory

     On your people pour your pow’r;

     Crown your faithful people’s story;

     Bring its bud to glorious flow’r.

     Grant us wisdom, grant us courage

     For the facing of this hour,

     For the facing of this hour.

 

2   Lo! The hosts of evil round us

     Scorn our God, assail God’s ways!

     From the fears that long have bound us

     Free our hearts to faith and praise.

     Grant us wisdom, grant us courage

     For the living of these days,

     For the living of these days.

 

3   Cure your children’s warring madness;

     Bend our pride to your control;

     Shame our wanton, selfish gladness,

     Rich in things and poor in soul.

     Grant us wisdom, grant us courage

     Lest we miss your kingdom’s goal,

     Lest we miss your kingdom’s goal.

 

4   Save us from weak resignation

     To the evils we deplore;

     Let the gift of your salvation

     Be our glory evermore.

     Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,

     Serving you whom we adore,

     Serving you whom we adore.

 

Prayer:

L. God, be with us.

C. And with those who long for peace.

 

L.  Let us pray. (Silence) Lord of the nations, God of peace, we your children turn to you at this time of conflict and warring. Instill within us and within all people a true love for peace. Guide with wisdom the leaders of nations so that peace and tranquility may increase and fill the earth. Make yourself known to all people so that your loving will becomes the will and the way of the world. For to you alone belongs all honor and glory, now and forever.

C. Amen

 

Readings:

The following readings come from the Hebrew and Christian scripture. At an interfaith gathering, other readings representing various faith teachings on peace and love may be substituted. Songs or special music may be inserted between the readings.

 

Reading from the Hebrew Scripture: Micah 4:1-4

1 In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills. Peoples shall stream to it, 2 and many nations shall come and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 3 He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; 4 but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

 

Psalm 46 (optional - may be read by all responsively)

1   God is our refuge and strength,

          a very present help in trouble.

2   Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,

          though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;

3   though its waters roar and foam,

          though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

4   There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

          the holy habitation of the Most High.

5   God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;

          God will help it when the morning dawns.

6   The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;

          he utters his voice, the earth melts.

7   The Lord of hosts is with us;

          the God of Jacob is our refuge.

8   Come, behold the works of the Lord;

          see what desolations he has brought on the earth.

9   He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;

          he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.

10 "Be still, and know that I am God!

          I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth."

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;

          the God of Jacob is our refuge.

 

Reading from the Christian Scripture:  Philippians 4:5-9

5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

Song or Sung Responsory

 

Reading from the Christian Scripture:   John 14:23-27

23 Jesus answered him, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. 25 "I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.  27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

 

Sermon (if desired)

 

Hymn:   “O God of Love, O King of Peace”       tune: Tallis’ Canon

 

1   O God of love, O King of peace,

     Make wars throughout the world to cease;

     Our greed and sinful wrath restrain.

     Give peace, O God, give peace again.

 

2   Remember, Lord, your works of old,

     The wonders that our elders told;

     Remember not our sins’ dark stain.

     Give peace, O God, give peace again.

 

3   Whom shall we trust but you, O Lord?

     Where rest but on your faithful Word?

     None ever called on you in vain.

     Give peace, O God, give peace again.

 

4   Where saints and angels dwell above

     All hearts are knit in holy love;

     Oh, bind us in that heav’nly chain.

     Give peace, O God, give peace again.

 

Invitation to Prayer:

L.   Sisters and brothers, we are truly blessed to live in this great nation of freedom and prosperity. We can hardly number our blessings, they are so many. But now we have come into a time of uncertainty and unknowing. It is a time to pray: pray for peace, pray for faith, pray for endurance. It is a time to reflect upon God’s call to us as a nation and as individual people of faith. It is a time to acknowledge the divisions among us as well as with our world neighbors.  Let us therefore come before the God of our faith with humble hearts, and pray for ourselves and for our world.

Silence

 

Litany of Peace:

L.   Lord of the nations, God of peace and love, in your hands are all the people of this world: the prideful, the needy, the arrogant, the lost, the high, the lowly, the entitled, the dispossessed, the loved and the unloved, the blessed and the not so blessed, and even we too, seeking your comfort, seeking your aid in our time of conflict and warring. For all our divisions and divisiveness, we must acknowledge that in your hands, we truly are just one people, one flesh, one blood, created by you at the beginning of time. You alone, O God, can curb the passions that take us from you and turn us upon each other. You alone can save us from ourselves through your great love for us.

C.  Be with us now, O Lord, and hear our prayer for peace.

 

L.   Come to the aid of nations and leaders who need your guidance.  Come to the aid of those standing in harmís way.

C.   O Lord, hear our prayer.

 

L.   Come to the aid of our military and their families. Come to the aid of all who need your assuring and loving presence.

C.   O Lord, hear our prayer.

 

L.   Strengthen us in faith and calm the fears within us that are many.  Help us to trust in you for our lives and our future.

C.   O Lord, hear our prayer.

 

L.   Forgive us for our sins, both corporate and individual, especially for our failings as peacemakers.  Forgive us for the divisions among us and with our neighbors.  Renew our spirits and increase our resolve to pray fervently for peace.

C.   O Lord, hear our prayer.

 

L.   Protect us from any evil that surrounds us.  Lift the hearts of the sorrowful.  Bring healing to the sick and the wounded.  Comfort the dying and the bereaved with your love.

C.   O Lord, hear our prayer.

 

L.   Above all, give us assurance that as Lord of all, you are in control.  Give us hope and give us peace on earth, lasting peace.

C.   O Lord, hear our prayer.

 

L.  God of our ancestors, God of all who are in need, heed our call and answer our prayer. Send peace in our time, peace for our hearts, peace for our land, peace for all the world, peace that abides as we abide in you. For you are God alone, blessed above all others, from whom comes the only peace that endures forever and ever.

C.  Amen

 

Sharing God’s Peace:

L. The Lord is peace. Peace be with you always.

C. And also with you.

 

All may exchange a sign of peace according to their tradition.

 

An offering may be taken to assist in disaster relief.

 

If Holy Communion is desired, it may be inserted here.

 

The service concludes with the following blessing:

L.  Almighty God lead you from death to Life, from falsehood to Truth, from despair to Hope, from fear to Trust, from hate to Love, from war to Peace. Let Peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe.  (adapted from the Prayer for Peace Movement, Satish Kumar)

C. Amen

 

Closing Hymn: “When Peace Like a River”  or  “Shalom” (below)

1   Shalom, my friends, shalom, my friends,

     Shalom, shalom.

     Shalom, my friends, shalom, my friends,

     Shalom, shalom.

 

2   God, give us your peace, God, give us your peace,

     Shalom, shalom.

     Give peace in our time, give peace in our time,

     Shalom, shalom.

 

3   Let peace start with us, let peace start with us,

     Shalom, shalom

     May peace live in us, may peace live in us,

     Shalom, shalom.

 

4   Shalom, my friends, shalom, my friends,

     Shalom, shalom.

     Till we meet again, till we meet again,

     Shalom, shalom.