After 20 Years, UMCC Retired It’s “Lamp of Safety”

On Sunday, November 7th — the same Sunday we remembered “All Saints” and our Veterans — The United Methodist Church of Chugiak retired it’s “Lamp of Safety.” This was a kerosene lamp that we had lit at the start of worship each week to pray for all of those who were in harm’s way and in need of protection from God. It’s a ritual that was birthed from 9/11 as our congregation, in an area with many military families, felt the call to pray for those who were in danger. In our community, almost everyone knew someone who was entering into harm’s way.

Over the last year, the leadership of UMCC has asked when it is time to retire or “decommission” this lamp to make way for new rituals and new calls to prayer. We made sure to hear from some of our career military. We made sure to hear from those who had loved ones who had served. It was determined that, after an entire new generation being born and with troops coming home from Afghanistan, that this was the time to recognize our congregation’s faithfulness in prayer but allow for God to speak in a new way.  And, just like with people, we recognized that lamps can come out of retirement as well. If there is a new need to remember God’s providence in a powerful way we know what to do.

This is the liturgy we used as we closed out our worship:


One: On September 11th, 2001, our country was attacked in a way that shook our collective spirit.

Many: And so we lit a lamp, initiating a ritual to pray for the safety of all those who were in harm’s way and those in the midst of conflict.

One:  Troops were mobilized to go to far-off lands. Members of our Armed Forces said goodbye to spouses. Children said goodbye to parents. Parents said goodbye to children. And our community said goodbye to friends and neighbors.

Many: In response, we lit a lamp, a sign of God’s providence, to pray for the safety of all those who were in harm’s way and those in the midst of conflict.

One: Over the years, many troops deployed and came home. Some never returned. Many more returned wounded in ways both seen and unseen.

Many: Still, the Spirit moved us to pray for the safety of all those who were in harm’s way and those in the midst of conflict.

One: The conflicts wore on. And, as we prayed our prayer of safety, we knew it covered those  facing different crises in different places: victims of natural disasters, first responders, our nurses and doctors, those experiencing hurt and pain.

Many: While many may have forgotten, our church remembered — lighting a lamp each week for the safety of those who needed it.

One:  For twenty years, as the men and women of our military responded to a conflict in response to an unspeakable attack, we lit our lamp, and we prayed, bringing some sense of peace to those awaiting their loved one’s return.

Many: We prayed for safety for all who were in harm’s way.

One:  Through all of this, the people of The United Methodist Church of Chugiak have been faithful in prayer. And now, with troops from that original conflict home and a new generation among us, we retire our “Lamp of Safety.” We do so knowing that we can bring it back if a new need arises; if we once again feel a powerful pull to call upon the Lord’s providence and care with a new ritual for a new day. We retire it, thanking God for God’s presence throughout these 20 years and for those men, women, loved ones, neighbors, and friends who found themselves in harm’s way for us.

(Time of Silence)

One: While the candle may go out, the Light of Christ, the faithfulness of our God, and the thankfulness of our congregation continues.

All:  Grant us peace, grant them peace, grant the world peace, in the name of Your Son. Amen.

Lamp extinguished.