Home Worship Planning Planning Resources A Service of Remembrance: 9/11 Anniversary and Healing Service

A Service of Remembrance: 9/11 Anniversary and Healing Service

Anniversaries are important occasions for remembrance and for recognizing our need for healing. The anniversary of the attack on the people of the United States will be observed in the media, in public events, and in religious communities across our country. The Center for Worship Resourcing of the Discipleship Ministries offers the following suggestions and resources for use on the anniversary of 9/11.

The resources cited here are from United Methodist sources, but any tradition will be able to find parallel resources in their own hymnals and worship books.

Planners' Considerations

  1. Options: Rather than offering a full service specially planned for this occasion, our suggestion is that you choose one of the four approaches listed here.
    • Memorial Service
      • Adapt the "Service of Death and Resurrection" in The United Methodist Hymnal (870) and The United Methodist Book of Worship (139), making it a memorial service — with or without Holy Communion.
      • Consider using "On the Anniversary of a Death," number 548 in The United Methodist Book of Worship. You may need to adapt it slightly, depending on the situation and the people you are remembering.
    • Healing Service
      • Adapt "A Service of Healing I" in The United Methodist Book of Worship (615) with Holy Communion.
      • The following may be used as an extended greeting that leads into an opening hymn such as Healer of Our Every Ill (The Faith We Sing, 2213); In the Singing" (The Faith We Sing, 2255) if Communion will be celebrated; Wade in the Water (The Faith We Sing, 2107); Word of God, Come Down on Earth (United Methodist Hymnal, 182), O Christ, the Healer (United Methodist Hymnal, 265).


        Leader: The Lord be with you.
        People: And also with you.
        Leader: Church, world, souls, memories, longings and desires yearn for the ancient vision of the prophets to be fulfilled.

        Right side:
        The eyes blind shall be opened,
        And the ears of the deaf unstopped;
        then the lame shall leap like a deer,
        and the tongues of the speechless sing for joy.

        Left side:
        For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
        and streams in the desert,
        the burning sand shall become a pool,
        and the thirsty ground springs of water.
        Isaiah 35: 5-7

        Leader: By the Spirit, a vision wells up in the people of God who yearn for healing and restoration; for justice, not terrorism; for forgiveness, not hate.

        Right side:
        Then God brought me back to the entrance of the temple. There, water was flowing from below the threshold of the temple . . . south of the altar . .
        it was ankle-deep . . .
        then it was knee-deep . . .
        then it was up to the waist . . .
        then it was a river I could not cross.

        Left side:
        God led me back along the bank of the river.
        As I came back,
        I saw on the bank of the river a great many trees
        on one side and on the other.
        God said to me,

        Wherever the river goeseverything will live.
        There will grow all kinds of trees for food.
        Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.
        From Ezekiel 471-12
    • Holy Communion Service — Use the Word and Table pattern of worship, including Holy Communion.
    • Basic Pattern Service — Construct a service using the basic pattern of worship — gathering, proclamation and response, thanksgiving (with or without Holy Communion), and sending forth.

    (You will find notes on each of the above options later in this article.)

    On this occasion the ritual of the church has much to offer. People are looking for structure, support, and the power of Christ known in prayer, song, sacrament, and community. People need to respond, move, and enact their inner state. Words alone are incapable of carrying the weight of such a time of remembrance and healing.

    Holy Communion is a primary means of grace for Christians to enter into Gods reconciling and healing grace. In Holy Communion, we turn our minds and hearts toward God in Christ and find the power to let go and let God have our grief, loss, anger, and will for revenge. Celebrate the Holy Meal with full use of an appropriate Great Thanksgiving. Sing songs of the heart as people commune ("Amazing Grace," "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," "Spirit of the Living God," and others). Join hands in solidarity when saying or singing the Lords Prayer. Offer healing prayer for those who want to come to healing stations for the laying on of hands (and anointing) and prayer.

  2. Where are the people of your community and congregation? In choosing which approach to take, you will want to assess where your congregation is on the healing journey. Perhaps your congregation has members who lost loved ones in the attack. That may call for touch, healing prayers, naming of those lost, and names of those grieving. Perhaps a healing service or a memorial service using "A Service of Death and Resurrection" would work best.

    Or you may have many in the congregation who have experienced economic dislocation or an extended time of fear, anger, or vulnerability. Perhaps there are signs of stress, feelings of suspicion, vengefulness, and hatred toward people whom they identify with the "enemy." Such a situation may call for a full-on healing service that includes confession and pardon.

    Take time to assess where your people are and how worship will lead them into the light of Christ.

  3. Scheduling the Service: When will you observe the anniversary? on the Sunday before the eleventh? or on the Sunday following?

  4. Scripture Readings: If worship in your setting is Lectionary based, consider whether or not the lections for the day will be suitable. If not, consider reading the listings in The United Methodist Book of Worship (159-160, 164, 616-617) or those prompted by the Spirit.

    Notes on the Four Options

  1. Memorial Service — Adapt "A Service of Death and Resurrection," United Methodist Hymnal, 870.
    • Though this occasion is not a funeral service, much that is in this service is usable with slight adaptations. Use "The Word of Grace Greeting" (871) with slight alteration, "Prayers" in the Commendation (874-875), especially the second one, naming people known in the congregation who were lost in the attack. Use the "Prayer of Thanksgiving" (875) with appropriate adaptation.
    • Include Holy Communion. Use the Great Thanksgiving on pages 152-153 in The United Methodist Book of Worship. In the portion following "By your Spirit " insert the names of those who were lost from the congregation in the attack. Then, after the silence, you might insert these or similar intercessions:
      Remember, O God, those who suffer the loss of loved ones
      Remember all who have died in the conflict with terrorism
      Remember those who are still filled with fear or anger
      Remember this nation and those we call enemies
      Stir your church to declare your peace where there is hatred
      Hold all in your love and justice
      (Here the presiding minister or another person might offer specific intercessions appropriate to the occasion)

      If you include intercessions here, you may not need to have "Concerns and Prayers" earlier in the service. Consider using a simple sung or spoken response (such as 484 or 487 in The United Methodist Hymnal).

    • Consider adapting and using prayers and other acts of worship in "Additional Resources for Services of Death and Resurrection," The United Methodist Book of Worship, pages 158-164. See especially the third of the "Words of Grace" on page 158, the prayers on 158-159, the prayers and resources "For an Untimely or Tragic Death" on pages 163-164.

  2. Healing Service — Adapt the "Service of Healing I" in The United Methodist Book of Worship (pages 613-621) with Holy Communion.
    • If your congregation has not used this service or any service of healing, you may want to prepare people with interpretation on Sundays leading up to the day or in your church newsletter. Make use of the introductory material from The United Methodist Book of Worship, pages 613-614.
    • As part of the confession or during the time of healing prayer when people come for laying on of hands, a soloist might start to sing "Kyrie" on 2275 in The Faith We Sing and gesture for the people to join in. This will have stronger impact if the song is not listed in the bulletin. The words are so simple that people will catch on quickly, and the tune is in most peoples memory, if only vaguely. Alternative songs might include Taizé songs, such as "Nothing Can Trouble" (The Faith We Sing, 2054), "O Lord, Hear My Prayer" (The Faith We Sing, 2200), "Jesus, Remember Me" (United Methodist Hymnal, 488).
    • Make use of the heart music of the people: Appropriate, well-known hymns and songs will evoke memory, hope, and healing.

  3. Holy Communion
    • Plan worship for this day of remembrance and healing using the "Word and Table" pattern in The United Methodist Hymnal and The United Methodist Book of Worship. For many congregations, this pattern is their usual order of service and planning, so it will be familiar. If this is not your usual pattern, then plan carefully. You may want to look at pages 16-32 in The United Methodist Book of Worship as a way of considering your options. One thing is for certain: What you do on this day needs to be familiar so that people experience healing grace.

  4. Specially Planned Local Service
    • Plan a service specifically for this occasion based on some other structure (most likely what is a familiar order of service for your congregation). All three of the options above are based on the "Word and Table Pattern," although the first two have a particular focus.
    • Much of what has been suggested above or below may be incorporated into this approach.

      Confession specially composed for the 9/11 anniversary
      (This may be used in any service or as the "confession" in "Healing Service I")

      God our hope and refuge,
      we confess that anger and hatred have held on to us.
      Healing has begun, but loss is still real.
      We are not in control.
      We dont like being vulnerable.
      We still want security or the illusion of it.
      We still want our enemies to be annihilated
      and for our lives to return to safety and Shalom.
      Forgive us and heal us.
      Raise us to new life.
      Strengthen us in the way of compassion and justice.
      Fix our faith on you
      so we know that nothing can separate us from you,
      through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    A time of silence or the singing of the "Kyrie," number 2275, in The Faith We Sing would be appropriate before the declaration of pardon. Continue with the "Pardon" sequence on page 8 in The United Methodist Hymnal or page 617 in The United Methodist Book of Worship.

General Resources

  1. Psalms: Psalms 10 (The United Methodist Hymnal, 745), 13 (The United Methodist Hymnal, 746), 22 (The United Methodist Hymnal, 752-753), 23 (The United Methodist Hymnal, 754, 873), 34 (The United Methodist Hymnal, 769), 130

  2. Hymns and songs in The United Methodist Hymnal
    (This is not exhaustive, and you will find many more that are appropriate.)
    377, "It Is Well with My Soul"
    461, "For Those Who Mourn"
    467, "Trust and Obey"
    523, "Saranam, Saranam"
    534, "Be Still, My Soul"
    529, "How Firm a Foundation"
    143, "On Eagle's Wings"
    356, "Pues Si Vivimos" ("When We Are Living")
  3. Hymns and songs in The Faith We Sing
    (This is not exhaustive, and you will find many more that are appropriate.)
    2062, "He's the Lily of the Valley"
    2110, "Why Has God Forsaken Me?"
    2136, "Out of the Depths" (Psalm 130)
    2146, "His Eve Is on the Sparrow ("Why Should I Feel Discouraged?")
    2156, "Give Peace" (Da Pacem Cordium")
    2157, "Come and Fill Our Hearts" ("Confitemini Domino")
    2172, "We Are Called"
    2177, "Wounded World that Cries for Healing"
    2180, "Why Stand So Far Away, My God"
    2183, "Unsettled World"
    2185, "For One Great Peace"
    2186, "Song of Hope" ("Canto de Esperanza")
    2191, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save"
    2195, "In the Lord Ill Be Ever Thankful"
    2200, "O Lord, Hear My Prayer"
    2210, "Joy Comes with the Dawn"
    2213, "Healer of Our Every Ill"
    2232, "Come Now, O Prince of Peace" ("O-So-So")

  4. Prayers in The United Methodist Hymnal
    459, "The Serenity Prayer"

  5. Canticles
    "Canticle of Remembrance" (The United Methodist Hymnal, 652) is especially appropriate and is strongly recommended for use in any of the approaches proposed above. Use either of the responses. Also consider the "Canticle of Light and Darkness" (The United Methodist Hymnal, 205).

    Suggested Scripture Readings:
    Isaiah 35: 1-10
    Isaiah 40: 28-31
    Isaiah 43:1-3a, 18-19, 25
    Isaiah 61: 1-3a
    Psalm 27 (The United Methodist Hymnal, 758)
    Psalm 91 (The United Methodist Hymnal, 810)
    Psalm 103 (The United Methodist Hymnal, 824)
    Psalm 146 (The United Methodist Hymnal, 858)
    Romans 8
    Romans 14: 7-12
    2 Corinthians 4: 16-18
    Revelation 21: 1-4
    John 3: 16-17
    John 11: 1-44

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