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Church vandalism 7

On January 8th, we discovered that St. Stephen had been vandalized. Virtually all the windows of the Education building were broken out, much was destroyed or defaced, and the vandal or vandals had attempted to start three fires. The police and fire investigations forced us to cancel worship that morning, but at 4:00 pm that afternoon we held a service in the main sanctuary, that was attended by over 300 people, many of whom were members of other congregations expressing their support. This prayer, derived from Psalm 74, was said responsively in the service:

Prayer for Vandal Vigil

 

As the congregation prays, you will hear me say, “Hear our cries, O God!” Please respond, “Attend unto our prayers.”

 

Hear our cries, O God!

Attend unto our prayers.

 

O God, someone has destroyed everything in the sanctuary. They have roared within your holy place; they have set up their emblems there. Hear our cries O God.

Attend unto our prayers.

 

They set your sanctuary afire; they desecrated the dwelling place of your Holy Name. Hear our cries, O God!

Attend unto our prayers.

 

They set their emblems in our sanctuary; they said in their hearts, “We will utterly subdue them.”

Hear our cries, O God!

 

Attend unto our prayers.

 

But now, as we hear the word “Amen,” please respond, “How we thank you, Lord!”

 

But you, Lord, are our sovereign from of old, working salvation on all the earth. You divided the sea with your might: you made Chaos itself food for the beasts of the field. Amen.

 

How we thank you, Lord!

 

Yours is the day, yours also the night; you are Sovereign in the light and in the darkness, and always by our side. Amen!

 

How we thank you, Lord!

 

Though the dark places of the land are full of the haunts of violence, we know you always regard for your[e] covenant; you remember your promises forever. Amen.

 

How we thank you, Lord!

 

You do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild animals; you do not neglect the cries of the needy. Amen.

How we thank you, Lord!

 

You will remember your congregation in their time of need. Amen.

How we thank you Lord!

 

Our prayers go up to you, O Lord, not only for ourselves, but also for those in need throughout the world; any who are victims of such violations.

 

For those who perpetrated these acts, we pray that their hearts may be changed and for the course of justice.

 

And for ourselves, we pray that anger and fear do not dim Christ’s love in our hearts, or our courage to profess your grace and love for the sake of your Son’s dear name. Teach us how to balance justice and forgiveness.

 

Make this terrible deed a testimony to the redemptive grace we know in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus our Lord.

 

And now, as Jesus taught….