At the request of the Episcopalian bishop of Connecticut, many of our parishes, like many across the country, will be tolling their bells at 9:30 a.m today. and offering their space for quiet and reflection. Some of my parishioners wanted a short prayer service as well, which I helped them develop. When sharing that service brought the response that some parishes were going to use it for individual prayer, it occurred to me that perhaps some here would like to use it privately too.
A version adapted for private use or for small groups is below the orange fleur de Kos. If such things irritate or bother you, I and others will appreciate your generosity in leaving the diary now.
The prayers below are not explicitly Christian, and I welcome folks of any tradition or none to share their prayers or reflections in the comments. (The Lord's Prayer, oddly enough, though named for Jesus is not explicitly Christian and can be prayed by any monotheist comfortable addressing the transcendent as "Father.")
If you have a deep bell or a singing bowl, toll 28 times. This link chimes each time you reload it.
Open with an invitation to silence, perhaps:
Let us begin with some moments of silence for those who have died.
Be patient with the silence. After the silence,
The Lord be with you
And also with you.
Let us pray.
Offer some prayers, perhaps beginning with this adaptation of the collect of Holy Innocents:
We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the innocents of Newtown. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace. Amen.
Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our understanding, deal graciously with all who grieve. Surround them with your love, that they may not be overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in your goodness, and strength to meet the days to come. Amen.
There are other prayers you may want to use instead or in addition
One or two readings, perhaps from the readings for Holy Innocents:
The Lord's Prayer, said together. You might want to invite people to hold hands as they pray. The version from Luke:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.
A closing of some sort, perhaps:
Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord;
And let light perpetual shine upon them.
May the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
The almighty and merciful Lord bless us and keep us. Amen.