Robin L. Thomas


Begin in near darkness


            Today has been a day of terror.  The media names it as a ?bloody day? and compares it to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.  Regardless of what it?s called or what it?s compared to, this has been a day when the unthinkable has happened.  American lives have been lost and devastated by a currently unknown assailant.  Many people of faith are questioning why darkness has enveloped the United States.  I have no solid answers.  I can only join with many other voices as we pray:

ยท        God, who gave us birth, you are ever more ready to hear than we are to pray.  You know our needs before we ask, and our ignorance in asking.  Give to us now your grace, that as we shrink before the mystery of death, we may see the light of eternity.  Speak to us once more your solemn message of life and death.  Help us to live as those who are prepared to die.  And when our days here are accomplished, enable us to die as those who go forth to live, so that living or dying, our life may be in you, and that nothing in life or in death will be able to separate us from your great love in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.     [pocket BoW p.46-47]

            This has been a day where the darkness of the world has appeared to triumph.  We are lost and confused.  There seems to be no light to guide us.  We watched as emergency personnel struggled to illuminate their way as smoke choked the streets of Manhattan?only to lose their lives as the twin towers of the World Trade Center fell in upon themselves.  We forgot our normal schedules as the Pentagon too became a target for the evil that seems to be enveloping our nation.

            The darkness invades our lives.  We cannot escape it.  We cry out in terror.

Light the first candle.

            Jesus said, I am the Light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.  [John 5.25]  Brothers and sisters in faith, let us pray that our Compassionate God will light our darkness with mercy and grace.

Allow a minute or so of silence.

            ?The Lord is my light and salvation; who shall I fear?? the psalmist wrote.  ?The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid??

            Holy God, we are afraid.  Our security has been breached.  Yet, Father, we know that there have been many souls who have known true terror today.  We watched on television and listened to the radio as innocent lives were sacrificed by the insanity of terrorism.

Light the second candle.

            I light this candle for the souls of the innocent who have been released from this mortal plane.  I remember that the darkness of their last moments has been erased in the glory of God?s love.  I thank God for His assurance in the Twenty-third Psalm: 

[KJV]  The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:  he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul:  he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name?s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:  thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:  thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

            Children of God, let us pray for our brothers and sisters who are now in our Father?s loving embrace.

A moment of silence.

            Paul wrote to the Corinthians:  When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:  ?Death has been swallowed up in victory.?  Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?  But thanks be to God, who gives the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

            We are children of faith.  We are assured of God?s love for us.  Still, there is a sting that has embedded itself into our spirit.  We seek assistance.

Light the third candle.

            I light this candle for those who have entered the darkness to save lives and property.  I celebrate the light of compassion which God sends into the ebon night in the form of  firefighters, police officers, emergency and military personnel.

A moment of silence.

I lift up my eyes to the hills?where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip?he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The LORD watches over you?the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The LORD will watch over your coming and going, both now and forever more. [Psalm 121]

            We have seen the valiant efforts of those who struggled to assist the victims.  Yet now who goes to the assistance of those who wait for the least bit of news?

Light the fourth candle.

            This candle is for the families and friends who have lost hope.  It is for the families and friends who pray for the slightest hint of good news.

A moment of silence.

Out of the depths I cry unto thee, O Lord!  Lord, hear my cry.  Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.  If thou, Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?  But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou may be feared.  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word do I hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning.  O Israel, hope in the Lord!  For with the Lord is great mercy.  With him is plenteous redemption, and he will redeem Israel from all their sins.  [Psalm 130]

            The American nation is in shock.  Father, we seek to lay the blame on someone?anyone so that there is a target for our anger and pain.

Light the fifth candle.

            I light this candle for the leaders of our nation and our world.  Let us pray that God?s Spirit may direct their decision making.

A moment of silence.

            In Ephesians we are admonished:  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.  [6.18-19]  Holy God, we lift up the recognized political leaders of our nation and our world.  Let Your Spirit reign even in this unthinkable situation.

Light the sixth candle.

            I light this candle for all humanity.  I light it for those who now pray for God?s mercy and grace in the nightmare that we have witnessed.  We too have lost our innocence.  There is a very mortal desire for revenge against whoever murdered so many.  Lord, blanket our fears with Your Spirit.

A moment of silence.

            The final candle which I light is the most difficult.  Yet hear our Master?s words:  You have heard that it was said, ?Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.?  But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons and daughters of your Father in heaven.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  [Matthew 5.43-45a, 46-48]

            Of all Jesus? commands, this is the most difficult right now, O God.  We react in pain and seek our brand of justice for what has happened.  Lord, remind us that we too stand before You only through the grace You bestowed through Jesus? sacrifice on the cross.

A moment of silence.

            Holy God, we still have no answers to our questions, but we know that You are always with us.  Even in the darkness, Your Light shines before us.  The ruler of the spirits of the air cannot eclipse Your glory or erase Your grace from our lives.  Let us pray with confidence as Jesus taught  His disciples saying:                    THE LORD?S PRAYER

            Go now in peace.  May our God rest His hand firmly upon your heart that the peace of Christ may blanket your soul and the instruction of the Holy Spirit be heeded.