When Hope Is Needed
About this articleThis prayer service is intended to bring hope during the difficult days that follow a tragedy. The service can be used with any size group, and with various ages of young people. It is also appropriate for parish or school wide services.
This prayer service is intended to bring hope during times of despair, consolation in times of suffering, and light in times of darkness. It may be used during difficult personal, family, or communal times. It is appropriate for various life events, such as unexpected tragedies and uncertain times in the life of a young person (waiting for college acceptance, difficulties with school work, and so forth). Whatever the situation, this service offers the participants an opportunity to pray about and work toward a greater sense of hope in unforeseen circumstances.
Guide for Preparing a Reflection
If you are including a reflection after the Scripture reading, Job 1:13–21, give a copy of the following guide to the person who will be leading it and suggest that he or she adapt it to his or her own style and purpose:
We learn at the start of the Book of Job that Job has vast land holdings: thousands of sheep; hundreds of oxen, camels, and donkeys; many servants; and ten children, including seven sons, the clearest sign of wealth in that ancient culture. But it all collapses in short order, and Job is left in misery and grief, suddenly a man of sorrow and suffering.
Job simply cannot understand why a blameless and upright man such as himself, whose loyalty to God is profound, should suffer a series of calamities in his life. Anyone who has been dealt what feels like a capricious and serious blow in life can sympathize with Job. None of it is deserved.
At times we feel as if we are abandoned, alone, and about to be overwhelmed by life. Then all of a sudden God comes to us through the comforting words of a stranger, a phone call from a friend, the squeeze of a hand, a gentle touch by a loved one, or an inner strength that comes from somewhere deep inside. In the face of the trials and tragedies of life, we discover in all sorts of ways that God is with us! This is the Good News, and the Good News brings hope to us and to the crazy, hurting world we live in. Many of us have experienced terrible things, and all of us have experienced pain and hurt. So what do we do? How do we cope? How do we find hope in the face of it all? Well, for one thing, we face the reality that terrible things do happen. And then, like Job, we hold on to the heart of our faith. We hold on to the knowledge that God is with us in the midst of it all, actively working to bring hope and healing to our lives.
Preparing the Music
When choosing the gathering song for this service, choose something that is familiar to all so that everyone can easily join in singing. The following selections can be found in the second edition of Gather Comprehensive, published by GIA Publications:
- "Lord of All Hopefulness" (traditional Gaelic)
- "How Can I Keep from Singing?" (traditional Quaker hymn)
- "Christ Be Our Light," by Bernadette Farrell
- "Over My Head" (African American spiritual)
- "All Will Be Well," by Steve Warner
Order of Prayer:
When Hope Is Needed
All the prayers in this service are led by the presider unless otherwise indicated.
The presider stands and motions for all to stand. The presider says:
Blessed be God eternal, watching over all we do.[All respond.] Amen.
Blessed be Jesus, our wisdom, companion in the striving.
Blessed be the divine Spirit, constantly renewing our spirit of hope.
The presider motions for all to join in singing the gathering song.
At the conclusion of the song, all sit. If necessary, the presider motions for all to sit.
After all are seated, without rushing, the cantor or the choir begins the first psalm. The cantor or the choir sings the verses, and the assembly sings the response. If the psalms are proclaimed, the responses can be used after each verse.
First Psalm: Psalm 63
[All respond.] "As morning breaks I look to you; I look to you, O Lord, to be my strength this day" (Gather Comprehensive).
After a brief period of silence following the conclusion of the psalm, the presider stands and motions for all to stand, and she or he proclaims the psalm prayer.
Let us pray. [Pause.][All respond.] Amen.
Good and gracious God,
As morning breaks,
we look to you to be our strength this day.
Breathe into us the Spirit who dwells in all hearts.
Open our eyes to see your kindness.
Open our ears to cherish your word of hope.
Open our lips to speak your praise.
Open our hands to receive the grace only you can provide us.
In our times of trials and doubt, help us to cling and hold fast to you.
This morning, and all mornings, keep us singing of your goodness and glory.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
After the psalm prayer, the presider motions for all to sit. Without rushing, the cantor or the choir begins the second psalm.
Second Psalm: Psalm 138
[All respond.] "Lord, on the day that I cried out for help, you answered me" (Gather Comprehensive).
After a brief period of silence following the conclusion of the psalm, the presider stands and motions for all to stand, and he or she proclaims the psalm prayer.
Let us pray. [Pause.][All respond.] Amen.
Gracious God, tireless guardian of your people,
ever prepared to hear the cries of your chosen ones,
teach us to rely, day and night, on your care.
On you we call, Lord God,
in all places and through all circumstances,
to give strength to our souls.
We praise you for your faithfulness and love,
and we thank you for the guidance and hope you offer us.
Be with us today, God from whom all encouragement comes,
support our prayer, so that we may not grow weary.
Impel us to seek your enduring and ever-present help always.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
After the psalm prayer, the presider motions for all to sit. Without rushing, the reader or readers stand to proclaim the reading from the Scriptures.
A reading from the Book of Job:
One day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the eldest brother's house, a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell on them and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was still speaking, another came and said, "The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was still speaking, another came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three columns, made a raid on the camels and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was still speaking, another came and said, "Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house, and suddenly a great wind came across the desert, struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; I alone have escaped to tell you."The word of the Lord.
Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshiped. He said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
[All respond.] Thanks be to God.
After the reading, observe a period of silence. If there is to be a reflection, the person giving it stands. If there is no reflection, after the silence, all stand for the canticle.
As the cantor begins the Canticle of Zechariah (the Benedictus), the presider and all make the sign of the cross.
All remain standing as the presider invites the assembly to pray the intercessions. After the reader has led the petitions, the presider concludes by offering a final prayer of petition.
- All-powerful God, you dwell within us during our times of weakness and strength, and so we bring to you the prayers that dwell within us, as we say,
- In the fear and apprehension, hesitation, and uncertainty that we experience, we pray . . . [all respond], Spirit of hope, come sustain us.
- In the sense of mystery of the unknown, and in the wonder that dawns in us, as we seek to follow you, we pray . . . [all respond], Spirit of hope, come sustain us.
- In the pain and restlessness that we sometimes experience, we pray . . . [all respond], Spirit of hope, come sustain us.
- For all who grow tired and weary, when burdens make us falter and we want to stop, we pray . . . [all respond], Spirit of hope, come sustain us.
- When we grow in insight, as your wisdom prompts us when to let go and when to take up, we pray . . . [all respond], Spirit of hope, come sustain us.
- When we glimpse your presence and excite in the sense of your closeness, we pray . . . [all respond], Spirit of hope, come sustain us.
We thank you, Lord, our God, for these moments of prayer. Grant us your consolation in the midst of the difficult moments we are passing through, and lead us to eternal life. We ask this through your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ,
Closing Prayer and Blessing
The following prayer and blessing are led by the presider:
The Lord's Prayer
O God of hope and new life,Closing Blessing
help us to celebrate the joy of abundant life
as you intend for us.
Through your great love,
let all who need you, especially now,
feel your presence and know your peace,
as shown through your Son, Jesus Christ,
who also taught us how to pray. [All join in.] Our Father . . .
Let us bow our heads and pray for God's blessing:[All respond.] Amen.
May the God of new beginnings
lead us forward this day.
May the God who brings us new life in Christ fill us with resurrection and joy this day.[All respond.] Amen.
May the God who abides within us be revealed to all we meet this day.[All respond.] Amen.
May the God who consoles and protects us soothe any heartache this day.[All respond.] Amen.
May the God who desires abundance of life for all creation renew our spirits this day.[All respond.] Amen.
And may God bless us, Father, Son, and Spirit.[All respond.] Amen.
Sign of Peace
Let us conclude our prayer with a sign of the peace of Christ.
Acknowledgments(This activity is from As Morning Breaks and Evening Sets: Liturgical Prayer Services for Ordinary and Extraordinary Events in the Lives of Young People, by Tony Alonso, Laurie Delgatto, and Robert Feduccia [Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press, 2004], pages 67-73. Copyright © 2004 by Saint Mary's Press. Permission is granted for this activity to be used for classroom or campus ministry purposes. This activity may not be republished in any form without written permission from Saint Mary's Press. To order this book, contact Saint Mary's Press at 800-533-8095, or visit our online catalog at www.smp.org/catalog.cfm.)