A Liturgy for Those Who Suffer Loss from Fire, Flood, or Storm


We first shared this liturgy in March 2020, in the wake of a devastating tornado in Nashville. Nearly one year later, we shared it for our friends in Texas after their widespread blackout. And now, we share it for all who are reeling from their own devastation after this weekend’s tornadoes, especially in southern Kentucky. We’re saddened that this liturgy continues to prove so relevant, but once again, we hope and pray that it may lend words to a situation that defies description.

Leader: O Christ in Whom Our Lives are Hidden,
People: fix now our hope in that which alone might sustain it.

O Christ in Whom
Our Treasures are Secure,
fix now our hope in you.

In light of all that was so suddenly lost,
O Lord, in light of all we had gathered
but could not keep,
comfort us.

Our nerves are frayed, O God. Our sense
of place and permanence is shaken,
so be to us a foundation.

We were shaped by this place,
and by the living of our lives in it,
by conversations and labors and studies,
by meals prepared and shared,
by love incarnated in a thousand small
actions that became as permanent a part of this
structure as any nail or wire or plank of wood.

Our home was to us like a handprint of
heaven. It was our haven, and now we are
displaced, and faced with the task of great
labors—not to move forward in this life,
but merely to rebuild and restore
what has been lost.

Have mercy, Lord Christ.

What we have lost here, are the artifacts
of our journey in this world, the very things
that reminded us of your grace expressed
in love and friendship, and in shared experience.

Let our rebuilding be a
declaration that a day will come when
all good things are permanent, when
disaster and decay will have no place,
when dwellings will stand forever, and
when no more lives will be disrupted by
death, tragedy, reversal, or loss.

So by that eternal vision, shape our vision
for what this temporary home might become
in its repair, O Lord, that in that process
of planning and rebuilding we might also
streamline our lives for stewardship, for service,
and for hospitality in the years ahead.

But those are all tasks for tomorrow.
We do not even know yet today the full
measure of what we have lost.

Today is for mourning. So let us grieve together
as those who know the world is broken, but
who yet hold hope of its restoration.

A moment of silence is observed. Then any who wish to speak aloud their specific expressions of grief may do so. The leader then continues with these words read by all:

Comfort us, O Lord,
in the wake of what has overtaken us.
Shield us, O Lord, from the hurts
we cannot bear.
Shelter us, O Lord,
in the fortress of your love.

Shepherd us, O Lord, as we wake each
new morning, faced with the burdens of a
hard pilgrimage we would not have chosen.
But as this is now our path, let us walk it in
faith, and let us walk it bravely, knowing
that you go always before us.


—from Every Moment Holy by Doug McKelvey

Please join us in praying for all those in Kentucky who suffered loss of any kind.

You can download a PDF of this liturgy here.


  1. Bobbi Standish

    quite beautiful and wonderfully said, thank you for this beautiful heartfelt prayer that I pray now for you all there who are walking through this heartrending and uncertain time and I pray it for all who are encountering such loss as well.

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