Liturgy at the Twin Towers, 16 December 2001


10 September 2011
CPT INTERNATIONAL: Liturgy at the Twin Towers, 16 December 2001

Written for the CPT Delegation to Afghanistan, which stopped at ruins of the World Trade Center on its way.

16 December 2001

I Listening to God
We open with a time of silence and listening to God (5 minutes or more).

II Lament for lives lost
We call to mind the lives lost here.

[Gene Stoltzfus]
O Lord, we stand and gaze at these ruins still smoking,
the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre.
That day as any other, they came to this place
young men and women brimming with life
children of parents and parents of children
throwing their energy into their work.

The halls and boardrooms, the elevators,
were filled with their voices
their laughing, dreaming, debating, deciding.
They did not expect what came upon them
out of a clear blue September sky.

[Doug Pritchard]
(Jer. 4:19-20)
Oh, my anguish, my anguish!
I writhe in pain.
Oh, the agony of my heart!
My heart pounds within me,
I cannot keep silent.
For I have heard the sound of the trumpet;
I have heard the battle cry.
Disaster follows disaster;
the whole land lies in ruins.
In an instant my tents are destroyed,
my shelter in a moment.

It is impossible to grasp:
These two mighty towers
Cut asunder, crumpled
Three and a half thousand lives cut short.

The women and men who heard the call to rescue,
firefighters, police,
what thoughts ran through their minds
what fears possessed them
what prayers did they cry out
as they sped to the fiery scene
and their own death also?


O God, our help in ages past,
Comfort the living
the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters,
lovers and sisters and brothers and friends
who came to this scene of desolation
and searched among the ashes.
Comfort them.
Heal them.
Why must the innocent suffer?

III Innocence lost
We call to mind our loss of innocence.

(Lk 13: 4,5)
Jesus, to his disciples:
“Those eighteen who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them –
do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I
tell you, no!  but unless you
repent, you too will all perish.”

We who survive confess our guilt, O Lord,
and the guilt of our peoples.

(Jer 2:34-35; 11; 27-28)

[Read lines alternately, first Stoltzfus then Pritchard]

“On your clothes men find
The lifeblood of the innocent poor,
though you did not catch them breaking in.
Yet in spite of this
you say, `I am innocent;
He is not angry with me.’
But I will pass judgment on you
because you say,`I have not sinned’.”

“Has a nation ever changed its gods?
(Yet they are not gods at all)
But my people have exchanged their Glory
for worthless idols…

They say to wood, `You are my father’,
and to stone,`You gave me birth.’
They have turned their backs to me and not their faces
Yet when they are in trouble they say,
`Come and save us!’
Where then are the gods you made for yourselves?
Let them come if they can save you
when you are in trouble!
For you have as many gods
As you have towns..”

to reflect)

(Jer 21:11)
Hear the word of the Lord..
This is what the Lord says:
“Administer justice every morning;
rescue from the hand of his oppressor
the one who has been robbed,
or my wrath will break out and burn like fire
because of the evil you have done-
burn with no-one to quench it.”

to reflect)

From the Litany of Resistance (Jim Loney, Toronto ON):
[Read lines alternately; “save us” in unison;
Pritchard to begin]

From the arrogance of the power
save us.
From the poverty of the violence
save us.
From the tyranny of the greed
save us.
From the filth of the war
save us.
From the profanity of the war
save us.
From the madness of the war
save us.
From the blasphemy of the war
save us.
From the brutality of the war
save us.
From the demonic cost of the war and the preparation for the war
save us, O God.

IV The perpetrators
We call to mind the perpetrators of the violence done here.

Nineteen men perished that day.
They harnessed the horses of the apocalypse
to destroy the symbols of the false gods of the enemy.
To die in such a way, they believed,
would bring them into the glory of God.

God, have mercy on their souls
Jesus, have mercy on their souls,
As they realize what they have done.

V The avengers
We call to mind those who now avenge that violence.

Our brothers and sisters, citizens, lawmakers,
Cried out with an angry voice for justice.
And for justice to be seen to be done
Bombs are being dropped on Afghanistan
These imprecise instruments of our age
That destroy the innocent with the guilty.

And our leaders and our clerics
prayed for the success of our soldiers
In the name of Jesus
Who said:

(Mt 26:52)
“Put away your sword
For all who draw the sword
Will die by the sword.  “


(Mt 5: 43-45a)
“You have heard that it was said,
`You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy’.
But I say to you,

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”


Hear the words of the Rodriguez family from their letter to the New York Times
after their son Greg perished here on Sept 11:

“We see our hurt and anger
reflected among everybody we meet. We read enough of the news to
sense that our government is heading in the direction of violent revenge, with
the prospect of sons, daughters, parents, friends in distant lands dying,
suffering, and nursing further grievances against us.

“It is not the way to go. It will not avenge our son’s death. Not in our son’s
name. Our son died a victim of an inhuman ideology. Our actions should not
serve the same purpose. Let us grieve. Let us reflect and pray. Let us think
about a rational response that brings real peace and justice to our world. But
let us not as a nation add to the inhumanity of our times.”

“Dona Nobis Pacem,” three times)

VI The Mission
 We now turn our minds to the mission which God has given to us.

O Lord of all creation
Of the earth, and the peoples, the animals and constellations,
Which once was “very good”,
Empower us by your Spirit
To be truly peacemakers, children of God.

Teach us humility;
Respect for those with whom we disagree;
Trust in you ;
Give us ears to hear your voice.
Be our Lamp in the fog.

Let us be living witnesses to your true nature:
You, Jesus, are the One who counted equality with God
Not a thing to be grasped;
You, Jesus, who took on human form
and lived to show us The Way
and died for our redemption.

Afghan and American, Canadian and Arab,
Christian and Muslim, Gentile and Jew,
All of us are loved by you,
All of us are in need of your saving grace.
Strengthen us to face hardship and rejection.
Empower us to love even the enemy
Just as you first loved us
When we were yet enemies of God.

“Song of Peace”
(tune “Finlandia” by Jean Sibelius, words Lloyd Stone)

This is my song, O God of all the nations
A song of peace, for lands afar and mine
Tis is my home, the country where my heart is
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations
A song of peace for their land and for mine

The Lord’s Prayer  [Unison]

Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by 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,

the power and the glory,
Forever and ever


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