Introductory Note:

Each of the laments in Douglas McKelvey‘s poignant collection of liturgies about death, grief, and hope helps us voice our emotions and longings to God. As our hearts break over the seemingly endless succession of violent conflicts and sources of suffering in our world, we want to grieve well. In one lament, McKelvey writes:

Now move us to a right grief, O God, over the pain, the loss, and the suffering occasioned by all in this world that stands in opposition to your life-giving rule.

We want to grieve well, and we want to respond well. Another liturgy reads:

Now let your mercies be active through the hands, the words, and the compassionate care of those who willingly enter this sadness to console and to serve. Grant each of them wisdom, courage, vision, sympathy, and strength to serve effectively in their various capacities…And move our own hearts also, equipping us to intercede, to act, and to respond however we are able.

We share this Liturgy for a Time of Widespread Suffering from McKelvey’s collection in hopes that it will help us grieve and respond on behalf of all who are afflicted by war.

Renovaré Team
October 2023

Excerpt from Every Moment Holy: Volume II

Christ Our King, 

Our world is overtaken 
by unexpected calamity, 
and by a host of attending 
fears, worries, and insecurities. 

We witness suffering, confusion, 
and hardship multiplied around us, 
and we find ourselves swept up 
in these same anxieties and troubles, 
dismayed by so many uncertainties. 

Now we turn to you, O God, 
in this season of our common distress.

Be merciful, O Christ, to those who suffer, 
to those who worry, to those who grieve, 
to those who are threatened or harmed 
in any way by this upheaval. 
Let your holy compassions be active 
throughout the world even now— 
tending the afflicted, comforting the brokenhearted, 
and bringing hope to many who are hopeless.

Use even these hardships to woo our hearts 
nearer to you, O God.

Indeed, O Father, may these days of disquiet 
become a catalyst for conviction and repentance, 
for the tendering of our affections, for the stirring 
of our sympathies, for the refining of our love.

We are your people, who are called by you, 
We need not be troubled or alarmed.

Indeed, O Lord, let us love now more fearlessly, 
remembering that you created us, and appointed us 
to live in these very places, 
in the midst of these unsettled times. 
It is no surprise to you that we are here now, 
sharing in this turmoil along with the rest of our society, 
for you have called your children to live as salt 
and light among the nations, praying and laboring 
for the flourishing of the communities where we dwell, 
acting as agents of your forgiveness, salvation, 
healing, reconciliation, and hope, 
in the very midst of an often-troubled world. 

And in these holy vocations 
you have not left us helpless, O Lord, 
because you have not left us at all. 
Your Spirit remains among us.

Inhabit now your church, O Spirit of the Risen Christ. 
Unite and equip your people for the work before them.

Father, empower your children to live as your children.
In times of distress let us respond, not as those 
who would instinctively entrench for our own self-pservation, 
but rather as those who — in imitation of their Lord—
would move in humble obedience toward the needs 
and hurts of their neighborhoods and communities.
You were not ashamed to share in our sufferings, Jesus.

Let us now be willing to share in yours, serving 
as your visible witnesses in this broken world.

Hear now these words, you children of God, 
and be greatly encouraged: 

The Lord’s throne in heaven is yet occupied, 
his rule is eternal, and his good purposes 
on earth will be forever accomplished. 
So we need never be swayed 
by the brief and passing panics of this age.

You are the King of the Ages, O Christ, 
and history is held in your Father’s hands.

We, your people, know the good and glorious 
end of this story. Our heavenly hope is secure. 
In this time of widespad suffering then, 
let us rest afresh in the surpassing peace 
of that vision, that your whole church on earth 
might be liberated to love more generously and sacrificially.

Now labor in and through us, O Lord, 
extending and multiplying the many expssions of your mercy. 

Taken from _Every Moment Holy, Vol. II_ by Douglas McKelvey. Copyright ©2020 Douglas McKelvey. Rabbit Room Press, 2021.

Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

Text First Published February 2021 · Last Featured on October 2023