A Peace Liturgy/Service

I’m occasionally asked to lead worship on particular themes related to peace and justice. What follows is one that was done for the Toronto Catholic Worker community.

5 Close Avenue

(Service for Peace and Justice,
in solidarity with the many at the gates of the School of the Americas)


Greenwood (sung by Peter, Paul and Mary)

I’ve seen a thousand people kneel in silence.
I’ve seen them face the rifles with their songs.
I’ve always thought that we could end the killing,
But now I live in fear that I was wrong.

The killer and the cynic waltz together.
Their eyes are turned into their skulls.
They do not feel the bullets in the bodies.
They do not hear the dolphin or the gull.

If we do these things in the green wood,
What will happen in the dry?

If we don’t stop there’ll come a time when women
With barren womb will bitterly rejoice.
With breasts that dry and never fill with promise,
Gladly they’ll not suckle one more life.

Is this then the whimper and the ending,
The impotence of people raised on fear?
A fear that binds the sense of common oneness,
That common love and life or death are here.

If we do these things in the green wood,
What will happen in the dry?

Will no one light a candle in the darkness?
Will not one be my guide, not let me fall?
I’ve lost the sense that tells me where the path is.
I feel the chill of winter in my soul.

There no way I can say the words more plainly.
There’s no one left to point at any more.
It’s you and me, and we must make the choice now,
And not destroy the life we’re living for.

If we do these things in the green wood,
What will happen in the dry?
If we do these things in the green wood,
What will happen in the dry?


One: We have chosen to be here, forming one body out of many.
All: We are one in the Spirit; we are one in Christ.
One: With us are those we see and those who share our vision
but are scattered across creation.
All: We are one in the Spirit; we are one in Christ.
One: We share a vision arising from differing experiences—men and women, gay and straight, rich and poor, of many races, creeds and cultures that are one with us in this moment.
All: We are one in the Spirit; we are one in Christ.

One: We have chosen to be here in a time of war when we have called for peace.
All: We have chosen to be here in a time of injustice when we have called for liberation.
One: We have chosen to be here in a time of fear  when we have called for hope.
All: We have chosen to be here in a time of action as a sign of faith.

One: We have chosen to be here in a time of darkness as a sign of light.

All: We are one in the Spirit; we are one in Christ.

One: Creating and healing and transforming God,
God who makes one of all those
sharing in the hope of faith,
remind us that we are more
than the people in this room
and more than the present time
that we may be your instrument
for peace and justice
in the present time and for all time.
All: Amen.

SONG: Jesus Christ is Waiting

Jesus Christ is waiting, waiting in the streets;
no one is his neighbour, all alone he eats.
Listen, Lord Jesus, I am lonely too.
Make me, friend or stranger,
fit to wait on you.

Jesus Christ is raging, raging in the streets,
where injustice spirals
and real hope retreats.
Listen, Lord Jesus, I am angry too.
In the Kingdom’s causes
Let me rage with you.

Jesus Christ is healing,
healing in the streets;
Curing those who suffer,
touching those he greets.
Listen, Lord Jesus, I have passion too.
Let my care be active, healing just like you.

Jesus Christ is dancing, dancing in the streets,
where each sign of hatred
He, with love, defeats.
Listen, Lord Jesus, we should triumph too.
On suspicion’s graveyard
let us dance with you.

Jesus Christ is calling, calling in the streets,
‘Who will join my journey?
I will guide their feet.’
Listen, Lord Jesus, let my fears be few.
Walk one step before me; I
will follow you.

(Text: John Bell, alt. Tune: Now the Green Blade Rises
Iona Community, Scotland GIA publications)


Do not wonder that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love one another. Those who do not love abide in death. Anyone who hates one another is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in them. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. But if any one has the world’s goods and sees another in need, yet closes their heart, how does God love abide in them? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.
(1 John 3: 13 – 19)

There is found all the Old Testament in Moses and Elijah
and all the New Testament in Peter, James, and John
confronting the clever fables,
the teachings of human beings,
the false redemptions that humans promise,
so that they can trust in him.
And, says St. Peter, almost poetically,
this faith,
like a lamp burning in the night,
will light up the darkness until the morning star arises.
It is the night of our history,
it is the journey of our time,
it is these difficult hours,
such as our land is undergoing,
which seem like a night without escape –
until the sun of the transfiguration
brings daylight and hope to the Christian people,
enlightening our way.
Let us be faithful to it.
Dear brothers and sisters,
the church knows it is God’s lamp,
light taken from the glowing face of Christ
to enlighten human lives, the lives of peoples,
the complications and problems
that humans create in their history.
The church feels obliged to speak, to enlighten
like the lamp in the night.
The church feels compelled to light up the darkness.

(from Oscar Romero’s The Violence of Love)

One: Hear the promise of our Saviour, Christ:
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of God.
People: Grant us this grace, O Christ our redeemer.
One: Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
People: Grant us this grace, O Christ our redeemer.
One: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
People: Grant us this grace, O Christ our redeemer.
One: Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
People: Grant us this grace, O Christ our redeemer.
One: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
People: Grant us this grace, O Christ our redeemer.
One: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
People: Grant us this grace, O Christ our redeemer.
One: Blessed are you when people revile you
and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward is great in heaven.
People: Grant us this grace, O Christ our redeemer.

(adapted from Matthew 5: 1 – 12)



Song: God Bless Us and Disturb Us

God Bless us and disturb us
As we celebrate this feast
When Christ who was the highest
Came to earth to be the least
Lest we confine to Satan’s power
Those for whom joy has ceased.

O Come Christ the Saviour
From below, from above
And infect the depths of earth
With heavenly love.

Where Colombia’s people
Cry for justice which is true.
Where Iraq’s hungry children
Cry for food which is their due
Where North Americans declare
“Our wealth has come from you


When powers thrive on heroin
Where people run from pain
Where parents watch an addict child
Left life run down the drain
Where hope’s a hit, a drink, a shot
And death seems like a gain


Where Christian folk detach ourselves
From following the cross
By spotlighting the cradle
As if that was all there was
Where who gets what at Christmas
Turns our minds from grace to dross


From Bethlehem and Washington,
Iraq and old Queen’s Park
To where a star is needed
Since the night is doubly dark
To where our lives await the Lord
To Set us on God’s mark


(Text: John Bell, alt. Tune: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Iona Community, Scotland GIA Publications)


One: Blessed are you, Lord God of the Universe.
You are the giver of this bread, fruit of the earth
and of human labour.
Let it become the bread of Life.
All: Blessed be God, now and forever.
One: Blessed are you, Lord God of the Universe
You are the giver of this wine, fruit of the vine
and of human labour.
Let it become the wine of the eternal kingdom.
All: Blessed be God, now and forever.
One: As the grain once scattered in the fields and
the grapes once dispersed on the hillside
are now reunited on this table in bread and wine,
so Lord may your whole Church soon be gathered together
from the corners of the earth into your Kingdom.
All: Blessed be God, now and forever.
One: “Peace I give to you. My own peace I leave with you.
Peace, not as the world gives, but of God.”
Let us present ourselves, as living gifts, to God’s work of peace.
All: God is with us.
One: Let us open our hearts to God.
All: We open them to God and to one another.
One: Let us give thanks to God.
All: It is right to give God thanks and praise.
One: We thank you, Almighty Father,
Because for us you have raised your Son,
Our Lord Jesus Christ,
From the dead.
In him you sent us peace
and freed us from death.
He has become our forgiveness,
our hope, and our life.
Because you raised him
and gave him glory,
we give you thanks
and join in your whole creation
in a hymn of praise, saying
All: Holy, holy, holy
Lord God of Hosts
Heaven and earth are full of your God,
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed be he that comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

One: We thank you, almighty Father,
from the very beginning
you promised us peace.
Despite our sins and our guilt
you have worked to unlock our hearts.
We sought after the pagan food of Egypt,
and you led us to a land of milk and honey,
We broke away from your covenant,
and you welcomed us back to fellowship.
We turned away from you to idols,
and you returned us from exile.
Finally we locked ourselves within the Law,
and you sent your only Son
to free us from bondage
with a new covenant of freedom.
He has moved among us
teaching and healing,
and we have known him in the breaking of bread.

For we remember how,
on the night before he died,
he took bread and wine,
gave you thanks and praise, and said:
This is my body broken for you,
and my blood, shed for you and all my people
so that sins may be forgiven.
Whenever you do this,
you will do it in memory of me.

And now, Lord, we remember and celebrate
how your son climbed the cross,
how he suffered and died to free us,
and how he rose from he dead
so that he might bring us peace
and the gift of the Holy Spirit
as a sign of the glory which awaits us.
Let us proclaim our salvation:

All: Dying you destroyed death,
rising you restored our life.

Lord Jesus, come in glory.

One: Send your Holy Spirit, Lord,
upon these gifts and this meal.
May we share this living bread
and this living cup as a people
freed from unbelief and scepticism,
united with the Church and all Christians
by the peace of the resurrection
in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the holy spirit,
now and forever.

All: Amen.



All: Speak Lord, for thy servant hears.
Grant us ears to hear,
Eyes to see,
Wills to obey,

Hearts to love;
Then declare what thou will,
Reveal what thou will,
Command what thou will,
Demand what thou will. Amen

(Christian Rossetti)

One: Let us depart from this place and time
to be a voice of peace in a time of conflict,
a voice of justice in a time of oppression,
a voice of love in a time of callousness.
May the Lord bless us and sustain us in
our journey towards shalom.

SONG: Never Turning Back

We’re gonna keep on walking forward
Keep on walking forward
Keep on walking forward
Never turning back
Never turning back

We’re gonna keep on singing boldly…

We’re gonna break down walls of hatred…

We’re gonna open prison doors…

8 responses to “A Peace Liturgy/Service

  1. May I have permission to use this, at least a 7-10 minute editing, for a “worship” at the close of one our EFM {http://www.edowefm.org/} evenings in Swarthmore, PA?


  2. What an excellent liturgy!!!!
    I would like to try and use it in Sydney Australia – is that okay?
    Grace and Peace,
    Geoff Stevenson


  3. Damien McDonnell

    Brian, can I use this liturgy for a service of peace in our Church..


  4. You seem to be happy for people to use this but I just wanted to check that it is OK to do so. Every blessing.


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