Candle Lighting Prayers against gun violence

These prayers are suggested for use during a candlelight (and prayer?) vigil. They are  prayers said while lighting the main candle. This selection is written for multiple readers, or you may choose as many/few selections as is appropriate for your use.

This set of prayers is adapted from a community non-denominational service against gun violence, see the credits at the end.

Note that the red asterisk [ ** ] is a “breath mark” or a pause mark where the reader make take a short pause while reading.

Candlelight Vigil Prayers

Reader 1

We light this candle in remembrance of the victims of gun violence, both those who have been injured and those who have been killed, in our nation and especially [location.] **

We hold their memories dear. **

We treasure those lives permanently altered through injury or those taken in senseless acts of violence, **

and we pray that they might find rest and peace. **

May their lives continue to make a difference in our world. **

Together we pray.
All: God of Light, heal our broken hearts.


Reader 1

We light this candle in remembrance of the families and friends of the victims of gun violence in our nation and especially [location.] **

Comfort those who mourn. **

Dry the tears of those who weep. **

Sustain those who feel diminished. **

Impart courage to the hearts of those who feel helpless. **

Together we pray.
All: God of Peace, sustain our broken hearts.


Reader 3

We light this candle in remembrance of all communities torn apart by gun violence. **

We are too familiar with places like Columbine High School and Aurora, Colorado; Newtown, Connecticut; Roseburg, Oregon; Charleston, South Carolina; Fort Hood, Texas, Orlando, Florida.  ** **

The memory of them is intolerable. Each of these incidents of violence affects all of us in our daily lives and work. **

Grant us strength to pursue a voice of love. **

Renew our resolve to respect the dignity of all human beings. **

Together we pray.
All: God of Comfort, encourage our broken hearts.


Reader 4

We light this candle in remembrance of first responders, including police, fire
and rescue personnel who witness the horror of gun violence while in service to
our communities, and for all those with responsibility for law enforcement. **

We give thanks for their call to protect and serve and to seek justice, which is inspirational
to others, **

and we pray that their emotional wounds will be healed. **
Together we pray.
All: God of Courage, inspire our broken hearts.


Reader 5

We light this candle for those lives taken by gun violence through suicide, **

and also for those lives taken through accidental shootings, **

especially when those shootings involve children. **  **

Console and strengthen those whose despair is great. **

Together we pray.
All: God of Mercy, comfort our broken hearts.


Reader 6

We light this candle in remembrance of all people impacted by gun violence, **

as gun violence knows no boundaries but can affect all nationalities, races, cultures, genders, and socioeconomic classes; **

it effects us regardless of who we choose to love, and those who choose to love us; **

it can affect us where we live, where we worship, where we work, where we study, and where we play. **

Together we pray.
All: God of Love, transform our broken hearts.


Reader 7

We light this candle for those who have committed acts of gun violence and for their families, in our nation and especially [location.]  **

We remember those suffering from mental illness who have gone untreated,  **

we remember those suffering from loneliness and isolation. **

We pray for those who would use guns, power and violence rather than respect and dignity to reconcile differences. **

Grant us the strength to pursue a voice of love. **

Together we pray.
All: God of Forgiveness, enlighten our broken hearts.


Reader 8

We light this candle to pray for ourselves and others in our lives who have been touched by gun violence. **

During the silent pause, we invite you to offer the names either silently or aloud of those for whom you pray. (the group / crowd / congregation is invited to add their personal names aloud or remember them in their hearts.) ** ** ** ** **

Together we pray.
All: God of Astonishing Mercy, Compassion and Immeasurable Love, restore our broken hearts and enliven our confidence to find new ways to revive our world to become a world of peace.

So be it.


An appropriate song:

This Little Light of Mine
sung by Odetta







credit: prayer service bulletin: “A Moral Call: People of Faith Confronting the Tragedy of Gun Violence.” Sunday, December 13, 2015, 2015. First Unitarian Universalist Society, Burlington, VT.









Come Darkness, Come Light – a meditation on Diwali, The Festival of Light

There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is in darkness.
– The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas

Diwali – the Hindu Festival of Lights – is a time of reflection on both the triumph of good over evil (light over darkness) and of our personal responsibilities in life (the use of the knowledge with which we have been entrusted.) Not every battle against evil is a win, and not everyone has great knowledge (or wisdom) to share and yet, by the simple lighting of candles, luminaries, clay lamps, frankincense, we celebrate what we have done and are doing now to bring ourselves – and each other – out of darkness.

While it’s not necessary to do a recitative here of the kind deeds we should be doing for others each day and for the wisdom we must pass along, take pause today to remember all that in your life is darkness. And when considering those spots, look around to find the light that fills the dark corners.

  • This one hates us, yet these many love us.
  • This one has been sick so long, yet in that illness has found the blessing of grace.
  • This part of our family is gone from us, while these new ones draw even closer.
  • This knowledge eluded me and I had to guess, and now I know with certainty.
  • I was blind.
  • Now I see.

Darkness is not the opposite of light as much as the temporary absence of light. The same as ignorance is not the opposite of knowledge but it is the fixable paucity of knowledge. The important word there being fixable. None of us are born particularly brilliant and yet through experience and nurture we move closer to an enlightened state. You see: we use the language of light and dark so much in our everyday language that we don’t see it or hear it in the air around us. And that is why, today, we light these candles and lamps and have a great spiritual laugh at that which we have not seen or heard. We notice the flavors of darkness there are in our lives, and understand how we come through. Even if when that happens is “at the end” at which time “all is made clear.”

Each of us are cracked people. Cracked but not broken. And it is through those necessary cracks that the light appears. Perhaps one of the reasons that small children are afraid of the dark is because they are not full into the daily habit of the re-appearance of light each morning. All fears are packed away with no shadows or scary thoughts. That darkness is their unknown and the morning light is their knowing again. Soon, with practice, they understand that the cycle repeats each day – light-dark-light-dark-light.

As we grow older, we need to be reminded of the same. In our lives we will at some point be in darkness, and from which soon comes the light. Darkness again, and yet we are smarter now, knowing that – just as before – the light comes to us again. Even if we need to ask for a little help.

Light your luminary tonight. Sit by your candle. Stay a while and watch the red glow of incense illuminating the air with the sweet aroma of prayer all around. Remember your darkness and do not linger. Look ahead to what comes next. And be ready for what comes after that.

Watchman! Watchman! What of the night?
The watchman says:
“The morning comes. And also the night.”  (Isaiah 21:11)

Keep the faith!

 – Amen