But more important than these physical markers of faith, we remember 25 years ago how the faith communities of Oklahoma helped in the healing and recovery from the bombing, and we are grateful. From faith leaders in the memorial service at the fairgrounds on the Sunday after the bombing, to First Christian Church turning over their facilities to families waiting to hear about those missing, to faith leaders participating in observances every April 19, to First Methodist Church having pancake breakfasts and “bless the sneakers” services before each marathon, the faith community of OKC has been there for us. The saying “grief shared is grief diminished” has proven true.
Just as God was not in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire on the mountain with Elijah, but in the silence afterward, so God was with us after the bombing. In the selfless goodness of countless people who did countless good acts, in the headlights on cars in the daytime, and in the prayers of millions, God was with us. Thanks to God for lifting us up and carrying us and giving us hope and strength. God has been faithful to us, and generous in his tender mercies.
Today we remember the uncertainty of life, and the need to be loving and kind and grateful. Today we remember that God can use even terrible things for good. Today we remember that we can live by faith, even with the unanswered, and unanswerable, “Whys”.
Today we pray for all the families who still experience the absence of loved ones at Christmas, at births, at marriages, and at anniversaries. We pray for the strength to live our lives in ways that would bring honor to those killed. We pray for the wisdom to live our lives in deep civility with all people.
Traditional Jewish Memorial prayer used at the 20th Anniversary service at First Presbyterian Church
Leader: In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember them.
People: In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them.
Leader: In the opening of buds, and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
People: In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.
Leader: In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.
People: In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them.
Leader: When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them.
People: When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them.
Leader: When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember them.
All: So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.
Excerpted from Pope John Paul II and used at the 20th Anniversary service at First Presbyterian Church
Hear my voice when I beg you
to instill into the hearts of all human beings
the wisdom of peace,
the strength of justice,
and the joy of fellowship.
Hear my voice,
and grant insight and strength
so that we may always respond to hatred with love,
to injustice with total dedication to justice,
to need with the sharing of self,
to war with peace.
Oh God hear my voice,
and grant unto the world
your everlasting peace.