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Interfaith Prayer Service from Boston, MA

Aired April 18, 2013 - 11:00   ET


CUOMO: Today's service will be led by Reverend Liz Walker, award winning journalist, former anchor at WBZ, the CBS affiliate here in Boston of Roxbury Presbyterian Church.



They are age-old questions that rise up far too often these days, questions we all ask, no matter what our faith tradition or our station in life.

How can a good God allow bad things to happen? Where was God when evil slithered in and planted the horror that exploded our innocence?

While someone this morning may have answers, I do not. But this is what I know. God is here, in the midst of this sacred gathering in this sanctuary and beyond, different faiths, different races, strangers bound first by loss and pain, but now clinging together in growing strength in a city that has always faced the darkness head on.

We are members of one another, a community of resilience, hard- pressed, but not defeated, confounded, but not consumed.

We are gathered in community, and through the blur of each other's tears and the beats of so many broken hearts, we will rise in community and face whatever the future holds, resolutely, as one.

This is what is demanded of us, and this is who we are.

God is here in our resilience, the grit that gets us back up again, and nothing taken will be forgotten or lost in vain. This is how God works.

Good morning. I am Reverend Liz Walker from Roxbury Presbyterian Church, and I welcome you as we gather in community to help heal our beloved city and this violence weary world.

Let us pray.

Creator God, in the beginning, you said, let there be light, ad the light shone, piercing the darkness. Help us find our way through the darkness now.

You taught us that we belong to each other. Help us hold each other now. We pray comfort for those who have lost loved ones, courage for those who are struggling through the trauma of physical and psychic pain, and tenderness to those for whom the world no longer makes sense.

Lord, bless this brokenhearted city as she finds her balance, dusts herself off, and tilts her head back toward the sky

Open our eyes to your presence this morning. Open our hearts to your grace. Restore us so that we can see and be the light once again.

In all that we hold holy, for me that is Jesus Christ, let the people of God together say, amen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reverend Liz Walker of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church.

Offering the greeting now, Metropolitan Methodios, the Greek orthodox spiritual leader in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Connecticut, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis.

METROPOLITAN METHODIOS, GREEK ORTHODOX METROPOLIS OF BOSTON, BROOKLINE: I have the high honor and privilege of representing the Greek Orthodox community of Boston and New England at this interfaith service of healing.

This past Monday, a day rich with symbolism, a horrific act of terrorism wounded the heart and soul of our city and our nation.

Thousands from throughout the world were in Boston as participants and spectators of the marathon, which, as we all know, recalls the run of Pheidippides from the ancient city of Marathon to Athens to announce the victory of Greece over the forces of an empire that devalued freedom, human dignity and democracy.

The Boston marathon always coincides with Patriots Day, when we commemorate the battles of Lexington and Concord, the first of the American Revolution.

Sadly, it was on Patriots Day when we celebrate the values of freedom and democracy and the fiercely independent spirit of America, it was on that day that evil reared its ugly head once again and countless innocent men, women and children fell victims to a senseless and unspeakable act of brutality.

But we know that bombs of terrorism may kill and injure, but they cannot crush the American spirit.

Today we thank Cardinal O'Malley for opening the embrace of his cathedral to all of us.

To President Obama, to Governor Patrick, to Mayor Menino, to all who are in public service, to the religious leaders of the commonwealth, to every citizen, regardless of creed, we gather as a community, as brothers and sisters in the household of God, to bow our heads in solemn prayer for the repose of the souls of three innocent victims whose lives were violently taken and for the countless victims who will bear painful wounds for the rest of their lives.

We come today to thank God for the police and firefighters, the national guard, for the doctors and nurses, for all who responded selflessly and courageously.

We pray that our gracious, loving and compassionate, our merciful God, the healer of our souls and bodies, watch over us and comfort us in our hour of pain, and that He who is the Prince of Peace bring peace to our souls and to our community.

And may almighty God bless America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Metropolitan Methodios, the Greek orthodox leader, spiritual leader of Boston and New England.

Speaking now, Mayor Thomas Menino, the city's longest serving mayor, recovering from some recent leg surgery. It's great to have him here with us today.

You're watching live coverage of "Healing Our City," an interfaith prayer service from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.


And it is a good morning because we are together. We are one Boston. No adversity, no challenge, nothing can tear down the resilience in the heart of this city and its people.

It is written that hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins. As the clock struck that fateful hour, love has covered this resilient city.

I have never loved it, its people more than I do today. We have never loved it and its people more than we do today.

We love the brave ones who felt the blast and still raced to the smoke. With ringing in their ears, they answered cries of those in need. This was the courage of our city at work.

We love the fathers and brothers who took shirts off their backs to stop the bleeding, the mothers and the sisters who cared for the injured.

The neighbors and the business owners, the homeowners all across the city, they opened their doors and their hearts to the weary and the scared.

They said, what's mine is yours. We'll get through this together. This was the compassion of the city at work.

We never loved the heroes who wear their uniforms more than we do at this hour. Boston's Finest in their blue, they carried kids to safety and calmed a city in crisis. The EMTs performed miracles in an instant. The firefighters answered the call. We love the national guard and our service members who brought valor to our streets, the volunteers in the BAA jackets and the vests, the doctors, the nurses who (inaudible) as the victims and the gravely injured arrived.

This was the strength of our city at work. We have never loved the people of the city -- the world and our great country more for their prayers and wishes.

And, yes, we even love New York City more, "Sweet Caroline" played at Yankee Stadium and our city's flag flying in Lower Manhattan.

It gives us even more strength to say prayer after prayer for the victims still recovering through the hospitals, at home.

It gives us strength to say goodbye to the young boy with the big heart, Martin Richard. We pray for his sister and his mom, his brother and his dad.

It helps us to say that we'll miss Krystle Campbell and celebrate her spirit that brought her to the marathon year after year.

It prepares us to mourn Lu Lingzi, who came to the city in search of education, and found new friends. We'll never forget her.

I'm telling you, nothing can defeat the heart of the city. Nothing. Nothing will take us down, because we take care of one another.

Even with the smell of the smoke in the air, and blood on the streets, tears in our eyes, we triumphed over that hateful act on Monday afternoon. It's a glorious thing.

The love and the strength covers our city. It will push us forward. It will push thousands and thousands and thousands of people across the finish line next year.

Because this is Boston, a city with courage, compassion and strength that knows no bounds.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayor Thomas Menino.



REVEREND ELDER NANCY S. TAYLOR, SENIOR MINISTER, BOSTON: Located at the finish line of the Boston marathon, Old South Church in Boston has developed over the years a ministry to marathoners. And I'm here to tell you that they are a special, very special breed. They are built of sturdy stuff.

As we do every year on Marathon Sunday, the day before the marathon, we invite the athletes to worship. And they come in the hundreds. And during the service, we ask them to stand. And we raise a forest of arms in blessing over them. And in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, we supercharge them, saying "may you run and not grow weary, may you walk and not faint."

This year in the midst of it all, in the midst of a joy-filled, peace- filled, international competition unlike any other, explosions, chaos, terror.

And from the church's tower, this is what I saw that day. I saw people run toward, not away from, toward the explosions. Toward the chaos. The mayhem. Toward the danger. Making of their own bodies sacraments of mercy.

In the minutes and hours that followed I saw with my own eyes good Samaritans taking off their coats and their shirts and wrapping them around athletes who were shivering, quaking with cold and whose limbs were stiffening. Good Samaritans who fed, clothed and sheltered runners and families, assisted families, shared their cell phones, opened homes and stores, and not least, guided strangers through Boston's cow paths.

Today, from our tower overlooking the finish line, we continue to fly our three marathon banners. Today we fly them first in memory of those whose lives were taken that day. And second, we fly them with prayers for those who were harmed and those who grieve, for their is still much, much pain in the world today. And we are very far from being healed.

And we fly them also in thanksgiving for first responders who made of their own bodies sacraments of blessing.

Here's what I know today. We are shaken, but we are not forsaken. Another's hate will not make of us haters. Another's cruelty will only redouble our mercy. Amen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reverend Nancy S. Taylor Senior Minister.

RABBI RONNE FRIEDMAN, SENIOR RABBI, TEMPLE OF ISRAEL: President and Mrs. Obama, Governor and Mrs. Patrick, Mayor and Mrs. Menino, all of us in this space and well beyond are grateful for your constant and inspired leadership. Your compassionate presence is a signal of the triumph of order over chaos, of love over hatred.

The gifted columnist Anna Quindland wrote, "grief remains one of the few things that has the power to silence us. It is a whisper in the world and a clamor within. The landscapes of all our lives become as full of craters as the surface of the moon."

We would wish our prayers this morning to hold not only the city and its souls in our embrace, but to extend our reach to kindred spirits in Newtown and now, sadly, in West, Texas. Our message to them is that our arms are wide enough to hold you in our hearts as well.

The Hasidic sage, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov once said, "(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE), the entire world is a narrow bridge, (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) but the important principle is (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) -- the important principle is to transcend somehow your fear."

As we share our grief for those who have lost life or limb, and for the constellations of families and friends who surround them, we turn to these words taken from Psalm 147, verse 3.


God, healer of the brokenhearted, and binder of their wounds, grant consolation to those who mourn and healing to all those who suffer loss and pain. Empower them with strength and courage and restore to them and to all of us who grieve with them a sense of life's goodness and purpose. Fill their hearts and ours with reverence and with love that we might turn to you again with hearts restored to wholeness, hands committed to the re-creation of well-being and peace.


In the name of God, the most compassionate and most merciful, Mr. President, Governor Patrick, Mayor Menino, and fellow citizens of Boston. We're gathered together to mourn the loss of life in a criminal attack in our community. What happened on Monday has shocked and horrified us. But it has also brought us together.

I come before you to share the message of my community's scripture. I want to cite a Quranic passage that I studied when I was seven years old. I was living at the time in Damascus, Syria. One afternoon while walking back home from school, I experienced a terror of a car bomb that exploded on my route. I will never forget the sound of the blast, the confused rush of humanity, and the anger and the fear that these feelings returned on Monday.

What gave me comfort at that time is something that may bring comfort to all of us today. It is a line from the Muslim Holy Scripture (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE). The passage declares that it is inspired by the Jewish tradition.

By a decree to the children of Israel. That whoever kills a soul, it is as if he killed mankind entirely. And whoever saves a life, it is as if he saved all of mankind.

On Boyleston street on Monday afternoon, next to a great public library that bears among many names that of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, we saw souls murdered. But also lives saved.

One week ago I was at another ceremony here in Boston. I stood in Faneuil Hall with 400 other people before a bust of Frederick Douglass and John Adams. We came from 77 different countries and all kinds of religious backgrounds. I, the lowly immigrant from Mauritania raised my hand and took with them our oath of citizenship.

Those of you who are born Americans may not be aware of what naturalized citizens pledge upon officially joining the nation of the United States of America. I was profoundly struck by the words we recited. We pledged to defend the constitution and the laws of the United States of America against all enemies. Foreign and domestic. And we pledged to perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by law.

When I recited this pledge last week, I could not imagine that work of national importance by civilians would be required here in Boston so soon. But now all of us need to take up this pledge. We all have service to perform and, indeed, we are all moved by the thousands of people who stepped forward in a moment of tragedy and confusion to serve.

I want to salute everyone who ran towards the victim despite risk to themselves. Everyone who gave blood. Everyone who volunteered shelter for stranded runners. I want to salute the members of law enforcement who are protecting us as we speak, and to thank the people around the world who are sending messages of hope and solidarity.

Before us, all is civilian work of national and even international interest. No one has to take a formal oath. We know instinctively that we must rise to the occasion and act because of our common humanity. That is what makes us Americans. One nation, under God.

And now a prayer. Dear God, (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) oh compassionate one, oh merciful one, welcome in heaven those innocent souls who were taken from us and grant the surviving family members the strength to face their loss. Heal the wounds of those hurt last Monday and heal the wounds of all Bostonians. We are hurting. United by faith and something greater than ourselves, we people of Boston, with your blessing, dedicate ourselves to the great task before us. To heal, to rebuild, and to serve once again as a shining city on the hill. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE). Amen.

REV. ROBERT MIRANDO, ST. PASTOR, CONGREGACION LEON DE JUDA, ROXBURY: Good morning. This morning, the words off Psalm 125, verse 3, have a particular resonance. For the sector of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous.