Prayer for Maui
The invitation to come together in prayer to share in grief and hope for Maui was extended far and wide following the wildfires that ravaged parts of the island earlier in the month, with Lāhainā in West Maui being most impacted.
On August 20th, over 200 of us gathered online — across oceans and timezones, from various communities of faith — to join in Prayer for Maui as the island community deals with tremendous loss, destruction, and disruption.
The online prayer service included prayer, scripture, and song shared by members of the Conference, including many pastoral leaders from Maui. Many from our wider United Church of Christ showed up in support and solidarity.
View the order of worship
View the recorded livestream here:
For each life lost in the fires known to date, a bell was rung. On the day of the service, the bell rang 114 times. The number of fatalities continues to rise. Following the 114 rings was a prayer of sorrow offered by the Rev. Danette Kong, a resident of Kula, Maui where homes were also destroyed by fires this month. Read the prayer by clicking below.
PRAYER OF SORROW FOR THOSE WHO HAVE DIED Rev. Danette Kong, Maui
Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison.
Almighty Love – you placed them here on this earth. They have been our neighbors and co-workers, our acquaintances and friends. They have been our sisters. Our brothers. Our mothers. Our fathers. Our beloved partners in life. Our treasured children.
Even if we may not have recognized their names in news reports, and even when we recognize there are more whose names we may never know – we are bound together in the ‘ohana of our Island, in the Great Universal Love of humankind.
We have shopped alongside them, been served by them, gone to school with them, taught them, worshipped with them, prayed with them, and even eaten in their company. We have surfed and frolicked in the waves with them, wiggled our toes in the sand just a few yards from them, or even paddled with them. Perhaps we have simply passed them on the Hana Highway, or watched planes fly overhead. We have admired the same sunsets, felt the soft trade winds blowing against our faces, and reveled in the fragrance of plumeria with them. Perhaps we have played `ukulele, danced hula, and attended concerts with them.
Let there be no fear or hesitancy in grieving them, for word of their suffering and death has broken our hearts. We have no breath left to hold our shock and disbelief. We have struggled with where to place our sorrow, our anger, and our blame. And we are left behind to pick up the straggly pieces of life left over from a horrific event that doesn’t make sense.
So, all we can do in this moment is surrender these beautiful souls to you, to ask you to gently hold them for us because we are no longer able. With your Healing Spirit, comfort those who are in pain from such devastating loss, and soothe all of us who weep this day and in the many hours to come.
Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison.
The Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson, General Minister and President of the UCC, and the Rev. Traci Blackmon, Associate General Minister of the UCC, were among those who helped to lead the service, offering prayers of help and hope.
Before starting her prayer, Blackmon reminded us ". . . that there are some matters for which words will never be adequate. I am grateful for an omniscient and omnipresent God who intercedes with groaning, the scripture says, of the spirit in those places." In a time when there are multiple catastrophes happening around the world all at once, Blackmon affirmed her belief in "a God that has the capacity to see and to feel and to be present in each [catastrophe] as though it is the only one, and care for us all at the same time.”
Thompson acknowledged, “There is so much grief among us, in Maui, in so many places in the world, where our world continues to be affected by climate change, by disasters, by violence that continues to visit among us.” She shared a poem titled "Silence" that she wrote after her mother died, and assured us that it is okay if we cannot find the tears or words to express our grief right now, that we are not alone, that "what is to come will bring healing, will relieve the pain, and will take us to a new tomorrow. But that is not this moment. In this moment, we hold each other through the grief and the pain, knowing that God is present."
The service concluded with a benediction by Kahu Anela Rosa of Waiola Church who shared an update from Lāhainā and read ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i from a copy of Na Himeni. The Hawaiian hymnal remained safe in her home while other worship materials were lost in the fires which claimed Waiola's church buildings.
A number of attendees remained on Zoom past the benediction and through an invitation to support Maui through Conference and national UCC efforts which was presented on-screen. Conference Minister David Popham closed the meeting by saying, through tears, ". . . our hearts are heavy... but our spirits may find some rest. Thanks be to God."
Partner with us to support Maui:
Donate through the Hawai’i Conference UCC: bit.ly/hcuccrelief
Outside of Hawai‘i, donate through UCC: bit.ly/uccsupporthi
Lahaina’s diverse religious community won’t be stopped by wildfire (Baptist News Global)