A Responsive Prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Leader: Let us give thanks to God for every good gift; let us give thanks to God for people of courage who help to give hope wherever there is need.
People: Today we especially pray for the people in the path of [Hurricane Michael] -- those who have lost their lives or their loved ones, those whose livelihoods and homes have been battered by the fury of wind and sea and storm.
Leader: Be with them all, O God, with your tender mercies and abiding hope.
People: We pray for those first responders who indeed offer hope in tangible form -- firefighters and paramedics, police officers and soldiers, doctors and nurses, pastors and so many others who brave danger and are a source of comfort and strength.
Leader: Our prayers will not cease when the storm passes, nor will our gifts. We are grateful for Week of Compassion and its partners who are assisting so many, who will be there when the cameras are gone.
People: Thanks be to God for people who are generous with their time, their talents, their prayers, and their gifts, for they are surely a sign of God’s good reign. Amen.
Worship Resources for after a Hurricane
Call to Worship Adapted from Psalm 46
Leader: God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear.
People: Though the earth give way, though the seas roar, though the winds howl in their fury.
Leader: God is with us; God does not fail us.
People: Let us be still and know that God is indeed God, the One who never leaves us adrift, the One in whom we and all the earth live and move and have our very being.
Leader: Thanks be to God! Amen.
Responsive Prayer of Intercession and Hope
Leader: Let us pray for those near and far who are affected by storm and sea and rain and tumult:
People: We pray for those who have lost loved ones, those whose homes are in tatters, those whose livelihoods have been lost, those who have been injured.
Leader: May God’s tender grace be with them, may God’s loving arms enfold them, may God’s hope grant them courage.
People: We pray for those who respond with bravery and dedication and skill in the midst of danger and loss: for firefighters and paramedics, police and soldiers, doctors and nurses, pastors and counselors, and all those who give of themselves to serve their neighbors in need.
Leader: May they know rest in the midst of danger, perseverance in the face of overwhelming need, and the thanks of those whom they serve.
People: We pray too for ourselves, O God. May too many needs, too much sorrow, never leave us jaded or calloused. May we open our hearts and offer our prayers and our gifts to those who are hurting. May we never lose hope.
Leader: O God our help in ages past, and our hope for now and years to come, be with all those who need you in this and every hour. May it be so, in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, Mother of us all. Amen.
Call to Offering
Hurricanes and natural disasters bring out some of the best in people. Folks of every race, of every religion or no religion, of every class, step forth to help those who are hurting, whose lives are in shambles, who may wonder if anyone cares about them in the midst of so much suffering. They need not wonder, for folks with trucks and boats have helped carry people to safety, have helped get desperately sick people to hospitals, have tried to make sure that families stay together and have a safe place to recover. But please know this: We too are those people. We may not drive a truck or pilot a boat, but we too can help our neighbors in such dire need. We may want to join our hands to those [on the Atlantic coast] but now is not yet the time. But we can pray. And we can donate. Every dollar that you give for Hurricane Relief to Week of Compassion, our wider church family’s disaster relief ministry, will go to work through our partners to assist those impacted by this terrible storm. Those dollars will continue working too; long after the headlines have faded and the cameras have been turned off, Week of Compassion and its partners will still be there helping with long-term recovery. Will you give generously, knowing that your gifts will help both right now and in the months and years to come?
Pastoral Prayer/Prayers of the People
O God, you have been our rock, our comfort, our hope from generation to generation. For your abiding love that never leaves us, for your grace that enfolds this whole earth, for your care which invites us to care along with you, we are grateful. This morning our prayers are especially with all those in every part of this world who are dealing with natural disaster, but especially those in the path of [Hurricane Florence]. We pray for those who have lost loved ones, for communities that are in tatters, for lives that have been upended and livelihoods destroyed. We pray that all of these would know your presence, and that they might know that they are cared for by folks near and far. We thank you for all who brave danger to assist those in need: firefighters and police and paramedics and doctors and nurses and soldiers and counselors. Be with them, O God, in their noble and too often scary work. Finally, O Lord of Life, we pray for ourselves. May we open our hearts and hands to the needs of our brothers and sisters, may we pray for them daily, may we dig deep to give of our resources to assist. We thank you, God, for the privilege of doing these things, to help in your name, the One whose love lets none of us go, now and forever. Amen.
Communion Meditation/Call to Communion
In communion with Christ, we are joined with the trials and sufferings of all. This morning we pray that through Christ we too would be with those who endure the wind, rain, and flooding from [Hurricane Florence].
As we come to this Table, we pray to the Lord: Protect those in the path of danger, open the pathways of evacuations, help loved ones find one another in the chaos, provide assistance to those who need help.
May Christ’s presence be known to all those who are fearful and discouraged, just as He makes His presence known in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup – at this Table and around the world, in every nation, among every people.
These are the gifts of God for God’s people! Let us come with joy and gratitude and hope.
(Lightly adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship: Occasional Services for the Assembly, page 394)
PRAYER for after a storm
God of Noah’s rain and the psalmist’s morning dew; Jesus, our water-walker and storm-stiller; Spirit of mighty wind and word who moves the tides of creation’s seas and the hearts of those drenched in baptismal waters: Protect those in [Hurricane Harvey’s] path. Provide comfort to those who suffer loss. Grant safety and courage to those who respond to victims of flood, fire, and injury. Sustain all our hearts with compassion for our neighbors and with hope of days filled with sunshine and gentle breezes. Amen.
PRAYER for after multiple disasters
Lord, our God, Creator of the heavens and the earth,
We are painfully aware this morning of the power of your creation.
Water, so often our source of life, has been this week a force of destruction.
Fire, that symbol of your Spirit, has left miles of land scorched and bare.
We admit that today we find it difficult to believe the refrain of Genesis that "it is good," when thousands of our neighbors have fled from their homes.
Yet, we see goodness in the generosity of friends who open their doors to evacuees, in the tireless efforts of first responders and volunteers, in your church offering refuge and respite in the midst of the suffering. Make us to be the bearers of your life and renewal. Empower us by your Spirit to be present to the pain of our neighbors and to bring comfort and hope.
Talking with children about disasters
Talk honestly with children about the event(s). Children understand that sometimes bad and scary things happen, so answer their questions as clearly as you can. Help them think through a list of the people, places, and practices that help keep them safe. Remind them that God is always with us, even when we are scared. Emphasize that we can help the people who have been affected by the disaster get what they need and find safe places to stay.
As images of the destruction continue to inundate the news and social media, limit your children's exposure. While you cannot completely shelter them from the news, you can limit the number of disturbing images they see.
A great resource is the book The Earth Shook: A Persian Tale by Donna Jo Napoli and Gabi Swiatkowska. This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Parisa, a young girl who finds herself alone in her town after an earthquake. It is a story of resilience and choosing to help (or not) when others are in need.