In the early hours of January 8, 2020, a plane taking off from Tehran, Iran and heading for Kiev, Ukraine, crashed shortly after takeoff. The accident killed all 176 people on board, including 57 Canadians.
This, of course, is not the only tragedy that occurred this week. On January 7, at least 56 people were killed in a stampede in the southeastern Iranian city of Kerman during the funeral for Qassem Soleimani*. In Australia, horrific fires have killed at least 24 people. There were also losses of life around the world from other accidents, illnesses, wars, and humanitarian crises.
The Tehran airplane crash, however, feels closer to home to many of us because of the significant loss of life of Canadians and Canadian residents. Several of those who were killed were students, graduate students, professors, or faculty members at universities where the CRC has campus ministries. These include:
- McMaster University
- Queen's University
- University of Alberta
- University of British Columbia
- University of Guelph
- University of Ottawa
- University of Toronto
- University of Waterloo
- Western University
- York University
These campus ministers are now figuring out how they can best serve those who are grieving on campus and the wider Iranian Canadian communities in their region. We ask that you join them in a special prayer, either on your own or as a congregation.
The following prayer was given by campus minister Richard Mast at the University of Alberta in Edmonton as he led prayer in a diverse, interfaith setting of grieving faculty, staff, and students. Edmonton lost 27 people in this accident, including 7 students and professors at the University.
"O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope.
Where anxiety is infectious and widening, grant peace and assurance.
Where spirits are daunted and weakened, grant soaring wings and strengthened dreams (eventually, in time).
We pray, Almighty God, in this distressing time of unexpected and tremendous loss.
You are our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble.
Do not let us fail in the face of these events.
Uphold us with your love and give us the strength we need.
Help us in our own confusion and guide our actions.
Heal this hurt, console the bereaved, for the sake of your great mercy.
We ask this in your name that is good, is righteous, is love.
(Note that this prayer was adapted from a resource provided by Rick Mast's Lutheran colleague, Richard Reimer, that was originally created by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).
* The Office of Social Justice has written a prayer related to this event.