A Liturgy of Lament and Healing


adapted from this publicly shared resource:

A Service of Lament and Healing following the overturn of Roe vs. Wade


For God alone our soul in silence waits.
God is present in me, in us. Amen.

Opening

We gather in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, changing decades of settled law. We might be angry. We might be frightened. We might be confused. We might be numb.

We come together as a community in the wake of this shock. This is a place to hold all of these feelings, not to solve anything. This is a place to bring all of our feelings, all of our fears, a place to rest in a time of chaos, of cacophony. Not everything we say or pray or sing will be for everyone, for there are many people, many feelings, many convictions in this room. Rest in what is for you; let go of what is not.

In this time of fear and conflict, come, rest: whatever you feel, whatever you believe. Come, rest: whether you need to cry or to be silent or to cry out. Come, rest: with your fears and your worries.

This is a place, this is a time for lament. This is a time for reflection. This is a time for us to come together.

Hope will come. Action will come. Joy will come.

But for now, just be.

Readings:

An Excerpt from A Liturgy of Longing by Sandra Maria Van Opstal, found in Sarah Bessey’s A Rhythm of Prayer: A Collection of Meditations for Renewal; Convergent Publishing, 2021.

We believe you are at work bringing peace. True peace—flourishing, wholeness, and
well-being. We hear your words of truth and
know in our minds that you are: Lord, the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God,
mighty and awesome.
You show no partiality.
You defend the cause of the fatherless, motherless,
and the widow.
You love the stranger.

We believe and we feel overwhelmed—sometimes
it is hard to believe that you actually care about the injustice and suffering. When we don’t see
your work. When we sense the apathy from the church. When we feel small and forget that
we were designed to be different and to make things different.

When we feel overwhelmed by the darkness in the world—
the violence, injustice, poverty, oppression, abuse.
Give us hope not to be overcome.
Give us eyes to see your goodness for our world.
Give us the strength to hold the pain of injustice in
our world and faith that it will end.
Give us courage to be honest with ourselves about
why and how we are doing justice.

We believe. So. Empower us to disrupt our broken
thinking by learning truth from diverse leaders.
Enable us to discover the beauty of justice and
inspire action in others. Embolden us to display your
goodness in the world.

Genesis 1:1-5

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness God called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.
Thanks be to God.

Psalm 69: 1-4, 16-18

1 Save me, O God, *
for the waters have risen up to my neck.

2 I am sinking in deep mire, *
and there is no firm ground for my feet.

3 I have come into deep waters, *
and the torrent washes over me.

4 I have grown weary with my crying; my throat is inflamed; *
my eyes have failed from looking for my God.

16 Save me from the mire; do not let me sink; * let me be rescued from those who hate me and out of the deep waters.

17 Let not the torrent of waters wash over me, neither let the deep swallow me up; *
do not let the Pit shut its mouth upon me.

18 Answer me, O God, for your love is kind; *
in your great compassion, turn to me.

Luke 18:1-8

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my accuser.’ For a while he refused, but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’ ” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.
Thanks be to God.

A time for small group reflection is held following the readings

An Affirmation of Faith:

A Profession of Faith by Sister Joan Chittister, OSB (modified)

We believe in God who made us all
and whose divinity infuses life with the sacred.
We believe in the multiple revelations of God,
alive in every human heart, expressed in every culture, found in all the wisdoms of the world.

We believe in Jesus, the Christ,
who leads us to the fullness of humanity,
to what we are meant to become.
Through Christ, we become new people,
called beyond the consequences of our brokenness, lifted to the fullness of life.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the breath of God on earth,
who keeps the Christ vision present to souls yet in darkness,
gives life to hearts now blind, infuses energy into spirits yet weary, isolated, searching and confused.
We believe in God who is life.

Amen to courage, to hope, to spirit of truth, to nature, to happiness, to wholeness, to the partnership of people in God’s plan, to the Christ who calls us beyond the boundaries of ourselves, to forgiveness, and to everything that stretches our hearts to the dimensions of God.
In all of this, we can surely believe, as God does.

Prayers

A Litany Based on The Prayer of St. Francis

We pray for those who, near or far, are without peace. We pray for all who partner with those in need of reproductive health care as they seek and strive to honor the dignity of every human being. We remember physicians, nurses, spouses, partners, friends, and strangers alike: may there be a great network of love and support to meet the demands of the times that lay ahead. May we learn to walk with each other without judgment or shame, knowing that it is with action that peace is found. 

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.

We pray for the hubris of humanity, that by acting legislatively, we assert that we can know the journey of another and deem it unworthy. We pray for an end to the dehumanization of those who claim autonomy of body and mind. May we be those who can love beyond our own needs and choices, knowing that it is within ourselves that we must first sow love if it is to grow through us.

Where there is hatred, let us sow love;

We pray for those who have already been shamed and belittled and caused harm by their choices to seek reproductive health care. We pray for those who have already been harmed by state legislation that limits education and access to safe care. We pray for those who, because of fear or shame, cannot gather with us now in community.  

Where there is injury, pardon; 

We confess, God, that we are a United Divided States. And we wish that we were in perfect harmony with you and with each other, and that pregnancy would only occur in situations of love, safety, perfect health, and to the benefit of mother, child, family, and community. But that is not so now. In our discord, may we find grace for each other. In our discord, may we offer supportive and caring companionship to each other. In our discord, may we find union with you, the God who loves us. May we be committed to union in the face of imperfect circumstances, imperfect relationships, and imperfect democracy.

Where there is discord, union;

We pray for an end to legal action, rhetoric and violent acts that target reproductive health care providers. We pray for the day when health care providers, women and their families, can exercise their rights to reproductive choice in security and peace. We pray for those who are not of the same mind regarding reproductive rights and choices, that all may be led to wise actions and safe choices. May our earthly faith, combined with the faith of the great cloud of witnesses, be strengthened to meet the days and demands that lay ahead.

Where there is doubt, faith; 

We pray for those who are afraid, lost, and in the midst of turmoil of spirit and mind. We pray for those who lament the loss of bodily autonomy, for those who fear the loss of other civil rights, and for those who fear the unknown of the world ahead. We pray especially for all who will be disproportionately affected by a lack of reproductive rights, especially people who are Black, Indigenous, Asian, Brown, People of Color, trans and nonbinary. We pray for all who live in poverty, and for those who live in rural areas, who will also be disproportionately affected. May we be resolved in our commitment to hope, knowing that to hope in God is to never hope in vain.

Where there is despair, hope;

We pray for those who have died because they lacked access to safe health care. We pray for the loss of life yet to come from forced childbirth and illegal abortion. We pray for the continued assault on the respect, dignity, and citizenship of those in need of reproductive rights. May we remember that there is no darkness too dark for you, God, and that your presence is never-failing.

Where there is darkness, light; 

We pray for the most vulnerable among us, especially the people and families who will be directly affected by this decision. May we remember and make sacrifices to care for all who will face economic hardship, hunger, and difficult choices because of this new ruling. We pray for those in grief and sorrow as they look to the future with dread and trembling. We pray for those who do not see the promise of hope and those for whom life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness will never be realized. May we be comforters for those in sadness and bearers of joy for those who have none.

Where there is sadness, joy.

space is held for individual prayers, concluding with:

Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Our Father in heaven, 
     hallowed be your Name, 
     your kingdom come, 
     your will be done, 
         on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins 
     as we forgive those 
         who sin against us. 
Save us from the time of trial, 
     and deliver us from evil. 
For the kingdom, the power, 
     and the glory are yours, 
     now and for ever. Amen.

Closing:

As we go forth into what may feel to some like a new, strange and uncertain world,

may God make us instruments of God’s peace:
Where there is hatred, sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

God our Mother, grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


A translation of this liturgy is available in Spanish by clicking here.

About this liturgy 

This outline of a worship service was designed by a group of lay and clergy leaders within the Episcopal Church as a way for the church-at-large to respond to an anticipated overturn of Roe v. Wade in June 2022. The service may be just one way you may choose to respond pastorally to those who will be affected by the overturn of this historic precedent. 

Since 1967, The Episcopal Church has maintained its “unequivocal opposition to any legislation on the part of the national or state governments which would abridge or deny the right of individuals to reach informed decisions [about the termination of pregnancy] and to act upon them.” At the same time, we also recognize that issues surrounding family planning and reproductive health are complicated for many in the church, and we intentionally designed this liturgy so that all have space to be together in the presence of the Holy One in a time of grief, fear, confusion, hurt, and lament.

We offer this liturgy, then, as a gift to the wider church and religious communities, including our ecumencial and interfaith friends. We leave it as an intentionally “open” document so that faith leaders may adapt prayers to local customs or circumstances. (Especially in an interfaith setting, appropriate sacred texts representing all faith traditions will need to be included.) It is a starting point—a framework of options and ideas around which to build. We invite you to adapt it to your own setting and context in the hopes of being a voice of healing and hope.

Yours in Christ,

The Very Reverend Katie Churchwell, Dean, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The Reverend Charlie Dupree, D.Min., Rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia

The Very Reverend Gray Lesesne, D.Min., Dean, Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis

Ms. Yuri Rodridguez Laureani, Seminarian, University of the South at Sewanee

The Reverend Katie Nakamura Rengers, Staff Officer for Church Planting, Episcopal Church Center

The Reverend E. Suzanne Wille, Rector, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Chicago, Illinois

Daily Morning Prayer for Friday, June 24 (Nativity of John the Baptist)

Join us to pray live via Zoom videoconference at 8:00 a.m. ET using the following link:  Zoom Link for Daily Morning Prayer


Their sound has gone out into all lands, and their message to
the ends of the world. Psalm 19:4


Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in eternal life. Amen.

Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Alleluia!

Jubilate Psalm 100

Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands; *
serve the Lord with gladness
and come before his presence with a song.

Know this: The Lord himself is God; *
he himself has made us, and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise; *
give thanks to him and call upon his Name.

For the Lord is good;
his mercy is everlasting; *
and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

Psalm 82 Deus stetit

1 God takes his stand in the council of heaven; *
he gives judgment in the midst of the gods:

2 “How long will you judge unjustly, *
and show favor to the wicked?

3 Save the weak and the orphan; *
defend the humble and needy;

4 Rescue the weak and the poor; *
deliver them from the power of the wicked.

5 They do not know, neither do they understand;
they go about in darkness; *
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

6 Now I say to you, ‘You are gods, *
and all of you children of the Most High;

7 Nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, *
and fall like any prince.'”

8 Arise, O God, and rule the earth, *
for you shall take all nations for your own.

63 Deus, Deus meus

1 O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; *
my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you,
as in a barren and dry land where there is no water.

2 Therefore I have gazed upon you in your holy place, *
that I might behold your power and your glory.

3 For your loving-kindness is better than life itself; *
my lips shall give you praise.

4 So will I bless you as long as I live *
and lift up my hands in your Name.

5 My soul is content, as with marrow and fatness, *
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips,

6 When I remember you upon my bed, *
and meditate on you in the night watches.

7 For you have been my helper, *
and under the shadow of your wings I will rejoice.

8 My soul clings to you; *
your right hand holds me fast.

(9 May those who seek my life to destroy it *
go down into the depths of the earth;

10 Let them fall upon the edge of the sword, *
and let them be food for jackals.

11 But the king will rejoice in God;
all those who swear by him will be glad; *
for the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.)

Psalm 98 Cantate Domino

1 Sing to the Lord a new song, *
for he has done marvelous things.

2 With his right hand and his holy arm *
has he won for himself the victory.

3 The Lord has made known his victory; *
his righteousness has he openly shown in the sight of the nations.

4 He remembers his mercy and faithfulness to the house of Israel, *
and all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

5 Shout with joy to the Lord, all you lands; *
lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing.

6 Sing to the Lord with the harp, *
with the harp and the voice of song.

7 With trumpets and the sound of the horn *
shout with joy before the King, the Lord.

8 Let the sea make a noise and all that is in it, *
the lands and those who dwell therein.

9 Let the rivers clap their hands, *
and let the hills ring out with joy before the Lord,
when he comes to judge the earth.

10 In righteousness shall he judge the world *
and the peoples with equity.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Malachi 3:1-5

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Then I will draw near to you for judgement; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow, and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

Canticle 16 The Song of Zechariah Benedictus Dominus Deus
Luke 1: 68-79

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; *
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior, *
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old,
that he would save us from our enemies, *
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers *
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham, *
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship him without fear, *
holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, *
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation *
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God *
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, *
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

John 3:22-30

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized— John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.

Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.’ John answered, ‘No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, “I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.” He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.’

Canticle 18 A Song to the Lamb Dignus es
Revelation 4:11, 5:9-10, 13

Splendor and honor and kingly power *
are yours by right, O Lord our God,
For you created everything that is, *
and by your will they were created and have their being;
And yours by right, O Lamb that was slain, *
for with your blood you have redeemed for God,
From every family, language, people, and nation, *
a kingdom of priests to serve our God.
And so, to him who sits upon the throne, *
and to Christ the Lamb,
Be worship and praise, dominion and splendor, *
for ever and for evermore.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, 
    creator of heaven and earth; 
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord. 
    He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit 
        and born of the Virgin Mary. 
    He suffered under Pontius Pilate, 
        was crucified, died, and was buried. 
    He descended to the dead. 
    On the third day he rose again. 
    He ascended into heaven, 
        and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 
    He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 
I believe in the Holy Spirit, 
    the holy catholic Church, 
    the communion of saints, 
    the forgiveness of sins
    the resurrection of the body, 
    and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

V.    Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance; 
R.    Govern them and uphold them, now and always.
V.    Day by day we bless you; 
R.    We praise your name for ever. 
V.    Lord, keep us from all sin today; 
R.    Have mercy upon us, Lord, have mercy. 
V.    Lord, show us your love and mercy; 
R.    For we put our trust in you. 
V.    In you, Lord, is our hope; 
R.    And we shall never hope in vain.

Almighty God, by whose providence your servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of your Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his teaching and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and, following his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen.

Intercessions

God of hope,
you raised up John the baptizer
as a herald who calls us to conversion.
As heralds of Christ in this age,
we pray to you for the needs of the world.

Prayers of the People, concluding with:

Hear our humble prayer
that we may serve you in holiness and faith
and give voice to your presence among us
until the day of the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20,21