Culture

A Prayer and Liturgy for Those who Mourn

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Editor’s Note: Starting today, we invite you to six days of prayer based on the Beatitudes in preparation for our national elections next week. Join us on Facebook Live at 12 pm ET as various leaders from around the world guide us in a time of lament and supplication before the Lord. Today, pastor Donnell Wyche will lead us; you will find an edited version of his prayers below.


We should read the Beatitudes as a condition we are in instead of something to which we aspire. In giving us this list, Jesus isn’t inviting us to find ways to suffer or mourn in order for us to be blessed, happy, or to be comforted. Suffering and mourning are part of the human condition; Jesus understands this. This is vitally important. Jesus, God’s anointed Messiah wasn’t even exempted from the experience of suffering (Is 55:3); instead, it is something we all can and do share with him.

The prophet Isaiah in describing God’s anticipated Messiah put it this way:
He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.

When we think about Jesus being a man of sorrows, we often focus on his garden story before his death on the cross. But Jesus was acquainted with deep grief before ever having to consider the cross. He wept when his friend Lazarus died (Jn 11:35) and when considering Jerusalem (Mt 9:36-38).

Most of Jesus’ ministry activity can be attributed to his compassion, deep loss, grief, and mourning. Often we are moved to do something for another person because of our own sorrow or grief over what they are experiencing. Therefore, mourning is the expected response to the reality that the world isn’t the way we want it to be.

Our moments of disappointment, sadness, and sorrow help us discover that we can’t do it all on our own, that we need God, and this realization gives way to our mourning.

It’s the cry of everyone who has been overlooked/ignored.

It’s the cry of everyone who has been treated unfairly.

It’s the cry of everyone who have been tread upon.

It’s the cry of the brokenhearted.

It’s the cry of the defenseless.

It’s the cry of the weak.

We all suffer, and the Beatitudes tell us when we mourn, we will be comforted.

Our mourning expresses what we are struggling with, our complaints, our sense of being treated unfairly. Mourning includes the deep grief caused by the personal sins we participate in, the tragedies we experience, the losses and setbacks across our lived experiences, and the social evil and oppression that is around us. It’s the vocalization of the injustice we feel and the injustices to which we bear witness.

“Mourning that is other-centered is, then, a manifestation of our protest against the evil and injustice that causes the massive suffering of our human family, as well as our demand for restorative justice.” Mourning makes the voice of the sufferers heard and their unjust suffering known. When we mourn and lament, we shine a light on the plight of others by giving rise and validation to their pain and suffering. When we mourn with others, we are also participating in the comfort for those who mourn.

One of things Jesus is doing in the Beatitudes is giving us a picture. A picture of community. A community bearing witness to pain and suffering. While our mourning will not resolve everything that is wrong in the world, it is a comfort. Our collective morning is a comfort to those who suffer because our collective mourning rejects a narrative that says we are all alone in the world.

A Liturgy for Those who Mourn, for They Will Be Comforted

Leader: Lord, we hold space for and mourn with those who have lost loved ones during the pandemic. We grieve that their lives, their love, their presence, and their contributions that were cut short because of the pandemic. Help us honor the ways they cared for us and loved us into being. We are grateful for their love and light; may their love become a legacy that encourages us through dark nights and cloudy days, may their love surround us and bring us comfort, reminding us that we are not alone.

ALL: God, comfort us, save us, redeem us, heal us, forgive us, and liberate us.

Leader: Lord, we lament our inability to collectively grieve the loss of so many loved ones because of the pandemic. We grieve that all we are left with is our anger, frustration, and our deep sorrow.

ALL: God, comfort us, save us, redeem us, heal us, forgive us, and liberate us.

Leader: Lord, we confess that through intimidation, torture, terror, and voter suppression, our country has a long history of denying residents the right to make their voices heard. We acknowledge that this is a collaboration with evil powers and principalities. For the silent and complicit among us, we repent for empowering and allowing these systems to harm those made in your image.

ALL: God, comfort us, save us, redeem us, heal us, forgive us, and liberate us.

Leader: Lord, we grieve systems of oppression that force us to place our bodies into postures of resistance, protest, and disruption. We grieve the failure of the powerful to see their shared humanity in those without power. We grieve that these systems of oppression rob us of time, place, rest, and being.

ALL: God, comfort us, save us, redeem us, heal us, forgive us, and liberate us.

Leader: Lord, give us the strength to give up our predilection for violence and empower us with the good news that the Creator God, in Jesus, has already acted on our behalf to end our alienation. Jesus, invite us to live a new life where the hostility between us has been destroyed.

ALL: God, comfort us, save us, redeem us, heal us, forgive us, and liberate us.

Leader: Lord, we mourn the ways that we have internalized false messages that lead us to believe that we are not enough or that we are not valued; we mourn the false message that we are less than or that we are worth more than others. We mourn the false message that we do not measure up. Lord, remind us again that we are irrevocably beloved in your eyes.

ALL: God, comfort us, save us, redeem us, heal us, forgive us, and liberate us.

Leader: Lord, we resist the ways that we are told to do more, to buy more, to sell more, to control more, to know more, to be more, or to have more.

ALL: God, comfort us, save us, redeem us, heal us, forgive us, and liberate us.

Leader: Lord we grieve that the intercessors, the artists, the prophets, the breach-repairers, and the heralds among us have been ignored, marginalized, minimized, and silenced. God, would you restore their voices and give us ears to hear.

ALL: God, comfort us, save us, redeem us, heal us, forgive us, and liberate us.

Leader: Lord, we grieve that we are still marching, still protesting, and still placing our bodies into the wheels of oppression for liberation, for peace, for equality. We are tired. We are sad. We are disillusioned. God, we need you to meet us as we march. God, we need you to meet us as we protest. God, we need you to remind us of your body that was placed into the wheels of oppression to free us.

ALL: God, comfort us, save us, redeem us, heal us, forgive us, and liberate us.

Leader: Lord, we grieve our lack of belonging and the denial of redemption. We lament that at times, we feel stuck. We long for a space where we can share our most authentic selves with the world and find solace in genuine community, a community that is actively partnering with the Holy Spirit to break the predilection to violence, harm, and the crushing wheels of oppression.

ALL: God, comfort us, save us, redeem us, heal us, forgive us, and liberate us.

(Note: the ALL responses are adapted from these Scriptures:
This comfort includes the salvation and redemption of God (Is 61:2, Jer 31:13), which includes healing, forgiveness of our sins (Is 57:18, 40:1-2), and our liberation and return from exile (Is 49:13)).


Don’t forget to join our six days of prayer based on the Beatitudes in preparation for our national elections next week, starting today at 12 pm ET on Facebook Live.

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