The setting was beautiful and intimate in a small A-frame chapel. Attendees sat in a circle of chairs while listening to recitation of holy scriptures and reflections. The service began with these words:
"Tonight, we name the fear that reduces community to a collection of competing individuals. Tonight, we name the patriotism that absolutizes one way of being human. Tonight, we name the lust for power that turns God into a weapon for personal gain. Tonight, we name the biases that turn basic human rights into privileges. Tonight, we gather together under one roof to express our common grief over the violence and the bloodshed of this past summer."
A list of victims was named from innocent people killed by gun violence in Chicago, to victims of many horrific acts of terrorism around the world, and the killing of police in places around the country. Victims from Orlando, Nice, Istanbul, Germany, and Syria were named as were all victims of hateful speech and rhetoric, those who go unnamed and forgotten, and who are held to be of little importance. We acknowledged that there are countless victims of senseless violence all over the globe, even if the stories do not make the headlines, and we prayed for each and every one.
In communal reflection, we asked God to hear us as we prayed for His mercy for:
- the human family, especially for all who are suffering or are in any affliction, and for all victims of violence everywhere.
- the weak and to comfort to those who suffer, that their sickness and pain may be turned into health.
- an end to the sickness of the world, especially violence, terrorism, war, and their causes.
- healing of humanity’s brokenness and bless all efforts for renewal and cooperation among peoples.
We were all then invited to come to the center of the circle to light one of the long, thin candles provided. As we placed them upright in plates of sand, we were asked to say an internal prayer of peace. It was a beautiful moment.
Faith leaders closed the service with a Proclamation of Hope:
"Tonight, individuals break the barrier of isolation to come together as one community. Tonight, different ways of being human find common ground in a shared experience of life. Tonight, people with different and sometimes conflicting experiences of God bow down in worship before the Holy Mystery that is the Divine. Tonight, privilege is laid aside as we recognize our common humanity. Tonight, we gather together under one roof to express our common hope that the violence which threatens our cities will end and the healing we so desperately need will come with the new light of dawn."
In these times where sorrow and pain permeate the world, this service was so necessary and so touching. It is my prayer that similar services take place in large numbers across the globe so that we can maintain hope and faith in God, the Almighty and in our fellow humans such as those wonderful people who attended this service tonight.
Wishing us all peace and healing, today, tomorrow and always.
Director, Soul Space Interfaith