Monday, June 29, 2015

In the Event of Miscarriage: A Liturgy


Having served as a hospital chaplain in a high-risk pregnancy unit, I have felt the nudge to share with you a miscarriage liturgy for some time.  Sadly, the statistics bear that 15-20% of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage.  While it is as common as one in every four known pregnancies, there is often little said about it.  Words, however, are very important.  What others say or don't say can make a world of difference to those who have experienced it.  Further, securing a safe place to share is essential.

For those of you who want to be that safe space for a friend or loved one, or for those of you who are hurting from a miscarriage and have wondered how to invite God in, I offer you this miscarriage liturgy.  It appears below in abridged form from the book Healing Liturgies for the Seasons of Life.  It is used with permission from Dr. Abigail Rian Evans.

Dr. Evans' resource is a favorite of mine because it offers various liturgies for inviting God into our trials and milestones.  The liturgies are largely composed of prayer, scripture, and sometimes symbolic action and come from a variety of church traditions.  Dr. Evans' passion for the intersection of faith and medicine is apparent to the reader, and it has also made her a memorable professor of mine.

I have led this liturgy at hospital bedsides.  You do not need to be a minister to led it, however; you just need a desire to bring comfort and approach God.  Feel free to draw from it as needed - simply sharing these scripture references can be powerful.

A LITURGY AFTER MISCARRIAGE OR STILLBIRTH (from the Anglican Church of Canada)

Suitable Readings

OLD TESTAMENT READINGS
Baruch 4:19-23     I have put my hope in the Everlasting.
Jeremiah 31:15-17     Rachel is weeping for her children.
Psalm 42     Where now is your God?
Psalm 91:9-18     He shall give his angels charge over you.
Psalm 121     My help comes from the Lord.

NEW TESTAMENT READINGS
Romans 8:31-39     Nothing will separate us from the love of God.
I John 3:1-2     We are God's children.

GOSPEL READINGS
Matthew 18:1-5, 10-14     Not one of these little ones should be lost.
Matthew 5:1-10     Blessed are those who mourn.
Mark 10:13-16     Let the little children come to me.
John 10:11-16     I am the good shepherd.

PRAYERS

(Adopt with discretion for the circumstances.)

Loving God, we come in shock and sadness.
By grace and power you gave us opportunity
to create new life;
now we feel our human frailty.
Hear our cries of disappointment and anger
because of the loss of this new life.
Be with us as we struggle
to understand the mystery of life and death.
Receive this little one into the arms of your mercy,
to abide in your gracious and eternal love.
May we give ourselves over to your tender care.
In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

(The mother and/or father may offer a personal prayer or reflection.  The following can serve as models if helpful.)

O God, you have loved me into being.
Hear my cries for my loss.
I wanted to bring new life into the world.
Now I want to cry forever
and wash your earth with my tears.
Move me from this darkness
and bring me to the light of your love and peace.
In the name of Mary's son.  Amen.

OR

God of all creation, I wanted this child
with all my heart, my soul, and my body.
I feel guilty even though I am not to blame,
I feel unworthy, and alone.
Give me strength to trust in your faithfulness,
make me open to the comfort of family and friends,
and in time free me from the bondage of grief.
Bless me with the desire and power
to live again in joyful expectation.
I ask this in the name of your Son,
my friend and my Savior.  Amen.

I pray this liturgy blesses you or someone you love today.  Feel free to pass it on, but please do so with sensitivity for the subject at hand.  If interested, you can find Dr. Evans' book here.  Also, watch for my upcoming article on how to further support someone who has had a pregnancy loss.  I will share practical knowledge and tips from my training.  Be sure to subscribe via email to my blog so that you don't miss an update.

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. You're so welcome, Eleanor. It's so important to give voice to such a quiet, yet very emotional subject. Blessings, friend.

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