Below is a prayer service for Take Back the Night. It is a bilingual liturgy and incorporates elements from different sources. It seems that the last few weeks we have become more aware of the ongoing violence in our country and in our world, from Boston to car bombings in the Middle East to youth committing suicide. Though Take Back the Night is often connected to domestic and relational violence, I believe that together we need to Take Back the Night, take back the day, and take back our lives from all the violent isms that fracture and break individuals and communities. My prayer and hope for sharing for the service is to create spaces and plant seeds that help bring healing, offer hope, and transform our brokenness into resilient wholeness.
En conjunto presente … En conjunto sobreviviendo
(Together we are present…Together we surivie)
Today, we gather for a service of naming. We will name the dimensions and dynamics of the serious problem of violence in intimate relationships. Violence is all around us. It is the root of many problems in our society, yet many times the church remains silent. Tonight, the silence will be broken…unid@s levantamos nuestr@s voces y nuestr@s historias. We will name the victims of abuse and mourn the lives lost to relational violence…our remembering them will make them presente in this space and en la lucha…nuestr@ familia is always presente. We will share their stories of loss, pain and alienation through poems, prayers, reflections, and silence. We will share words of hope and resiliency and survival from our community, from our historias, from our vidas en la lucha, from nuestr@s seres querid@s who are presente. We will name the God who is present in and through all our efforts in conjunto heal the past, survive the present, and create a future where all relationships are free from violence.
One: Now, let us bow our heads in a moment of prayer … you are welcome to join us or take a moment of silence during this time of prayer:
ALL: We offer ourselves to you, O God que nos acompana. We offer nuestras manos … use our healing touch to comfort nuestr@s hermanas y hermanos, who are afraid. We offer our eyes and ears … may we see and hear the signs and stories of violence, may we see and hear into hope-filled action in the face pain, confusion, and soledad sufocante. We offer nuestr@s historias of violence and sobreviviencia … we offer the historias of nuestr@ familia … stories that echo within and arround us. May we be healed as we presente with each other. En conjunto, we offer our anger. Make it a passion for justice. En conjunto, we offer all our skills. Use our gifts to end violence. En conjunto, we offer our faith, our espenranza, our love. All this we ask through the Holy One who knows the pain of violence and stands with us in conjunto en nuestr@ lucha. AMEN.
Hymn – One Voice
Invitation to Reflect
Standing en conjunto y solidaridad to break our silence and the silences in our hogares, comunidad, y iglesia … we now move into a time of reflection and open sharing. All who are comfortable are welcome to share their testimonios or stories of loved ones in this space.
Remembering those Affected … haciendo presencia
Left Side: Nuestr@s madres y padres, who had few choices; who did what they had to; who resisted sometimes quietly, sometimes loudly; who carried the secrets of their abuse silently in their hearts. PRESENTE
Right Side: Nuestr@s hermanas y hermanos, who were made the scapegoat; who said, “No!” but to no avail; who thought they were protecting us; who were given tranquilizers to quiet their rage; who carried the secrets of their abuse silently in their hearts. PRESENTE
Left Side: Nuestr@s vecin@s, whose cries we heard in the night, whose bruises we saw in the day, who fought back and paid the price, who carried the secret of their abuse silently in their hearts. PRESENTE
Right Side: Nuestr@s companer@s y amig@s en la lucha, who spent so much time at our house, not wanting to go home; whom everyone thought were just shy and quiet; who carried the secrets of their abuse silently in their hearts. PRESENTE
Left Side: Nuestr@ seres y nuestr@s vidas, who may have tried to tell but were ignored; who were not protected by anyone; who were not believed; who carry the secrets of our abuse silently in our hearts. PRESENTE
All: We remember y hacemos presente the loss of ninez; the loss of creativity; the loss of vocation; the loss of relaciones; the loss of time; the cost of resources required for healing; the enormous waste of humanity caused by relational violence in all its forms. We remember y hacemos presente those who have not survived; whose lives were taken by a partner’s violence; who died in despair never knowing justice. Su presencia nos acompana en la lucha, su presecia nos acompana en esperanza y sobreviviencia, su presencia nos acompana.
CREANDO LUZ Y PRESENCIA EN CONJUNTO
“We have to promote human solidarity, avoid indifference, and play a part with society in the solution of the problem of violence…” –Shakira
“Años de un caminar que se hace historia, de mujeres valiente que han tomado con decision, Firmeza, fe, y anhelo…las riendas de la vida junto al pueblo. Anos de lucha, huellas que no se borran, paginas de una historia que libera. Anos de lucha mujeres que se entregan a planterar en la tierra justicia.” –Sister Rosa Martha Zarate
I invite you to come forward and light a candle out of love for someone you would remember and make present. Call out their name as you light their candle. Let us hold those named silently in our hearts and honor their presence within and among us. We will take our lights and our stories into the chapel representing our covenant promises to become hearers, receivers, and comforters of those who have survived relational violence. We also carry in this light and in our promise the realities of those whose lives have been taken by relational violence. As soon as everyone has taken back their light, we will process into the chapel. In the chapel, you will have the opportunity to see, read, and hear words of hope. When you enter, all are invited to take a card from the center table.
Hymn: One Voice
Words of Hope
The first step towards creating the future we want is to imagine it and make it presente in words, images, thoughts shared. What will a future without violence look like? What will you do when all relationships are safe? We invite you to read aloud the words of hope you received when you entered the chapel and to add your own words of esperanza en la lucha.
One: God of power, steady each of us as we strive to make sense of a fragmented world. We have lived in terror, when we needed to have safety. We have lived with betrayal and duplicity, when we needed loyalty and truthfulness. We have been isolated, when we needed community and sharing. We have hidden, and longed to be seen; imprisoned and longed to be free. Help us to bear these losses, help us to bear the time spent in anguish, help us to bear the reality of the past. Bring us into that safe place where we may be open to receive the everyday comforts of this life, to love and to be loved, and to experience your grace.
ALL: Loving and Compassionate God, tonight we have named the violence! En conjunto, we have broken the silence! We have felt your presencia in our midst! We have lit candles in the oscuridad! We have named, remembered, honored, made presente, celebrated many people that you love. Bless our time together, our knowing and that which we will do in the future. Give us persistent hearts and strong bodies for la lucha that will end violence in our midst. Send your Spirit especially to our churches and church leaders. Open their eyes, their mouths, their minds and their hearts to do justice for those we have remembered and made present tonight. In the name and the spirit of the God of holiness, justicia, esperanza, y la lucha, we pray. Amen.
feature image from: http://clog.dailycal.org/2008/04/16/take-back-the-night-queer-awareness-take-over-sproul/