Ordinary Time (Year B): Litany for the Desperate

This week's Lectionary passages contain such amazing stories and David and Goliath and Christ stilling the sea, but also a deep sense of God's care for the afflicted and desperate.

 

God, it’s mostly by our own collective blindness
That we have the poor among us.
This is the pit we have made and fallen into;
This is the net that has caught us (1):
We favored the rich
And disregarded the needy.

But, by your mercy, the needy won’t always be forgotten;
Nor the hope of the poor perish (2).

Over and over in the scriptures, we read stories of people who miraculously overcome great obstacles:
     Boys who slay giants with stones (3),
     Women who defeat armies with tent pegs (4),
     Full jars of oil and grain despite famine (5),
     Desperate fathers whose daughters rise from deathbeds (6),
     Locked prison doors flying open (7),
     Dangerous seas calmed at a word (8),
     Crucified Christ resurrected (9).
From these stories, and many more
We take hope.

For in our deepest desperation,
You meet us.
In our poverty of spirit,
You meet us.
In our blindness and apathy,
You meet us.

Things don’t always turn out the way we want them to in this life,
But your eye is always on the afflicted.
Come to us now, Holy One, in our desperation and need;
Still our storms;
Bring us all to a place of rest,
And make us glad in the quiet. (10) Amen.*


*I recommend including a pause for silence here.

  1. Psalm 9:15

  2. Psalm 9:18

  3. 1 Samuel 17:49

  4. Judges 4:21

  5. 2 Kings 4:1-7

  6. Mark 5:23

  7. Acts 16:26

  8. Mark 4:39

  9. Mark 16:6

  10. Psalm 107:30

 

Litany for the Border

If you're unaware of what's happening currently at the US Border, please read up on it. And pray.
 

Oh God, we lament the trauma that is happening to asylum seekers at the U.S. Border
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for an end to separation of families, the desperation of parents and children, and the degradation of their dignity.
Lord, have mercy.

We lament the violence and corruption that is forcing these immigrants to leave their home countries.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for an end to corrupt government, violent power structures, and poor living conditions in Central America.
Lord, have mercy.

We lament the policy decisions enacted by our own U.S. leadership that have led to the traumatizing of children and infants.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for humane and just legislation to be passed by congress immediately.
Lord, have mercy.

We lament our own societal apathy, our tendency to be blind and uncaring toward the alien, the refugee, the orphan, the widow.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for the reformation of our own hearts, that we may have the compassion and wisdom of Christ.
Lord, have mercy.

For peace in Central America,
We pray to the Lord.
For humane practices at our borders,
We pray to the Lord.
For just and compassionate government here at home,
We pray to the Lord.
For loving hearts toward all seeking safety,
We pray to the Lord.  

May the love of Christ compel and bind us, from the poorest and most powerless to the most privileged and powerful.
May the light of Christ shine upon us all. Amen

Litany for God Our Father

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This is a companion litany to Litany for God Our Mother.


God, who created fathers
And invented fathering,
Help us to see you more completely,
In your wholeness.

For those of us who don’t have fathers
Be our good father.
For those of us who have painful relationships with our fathers,
Be our good father.
For those of us who are fathers of children,
Be our good father.
For those of us who are spiritual fathers,
Be our good father.
For those of us whose ideas about fathering need reinventing,
Be our good father.

We know that for you, being a good father does not mean toxic masculinity,
Or domination,
But that you care for us with exceeding kindness,
     With attentiveness (1),
     With celebration (2),
     With generosity (3),
     With surrounding (4),
     With provision (5),
     With emotion (6),
     With love (7).

We know that you are father, mother, friend, helper
Lover of our souls;
Your love is constantly exceeding our expectations,
And redefining our terms.

May we reflect your fathering love,
Living in light of your example. Amen

1)Isaiah 65:24
2) Luke 15:22-23
3) Timothy 6:17
4) Psalm 32:7
5) Luke 11:11
6) Psalm 86:15, Zephaniah 3:17

Ordinary Time (Year B): Litany for The Seed

This week's Lectionary text includes the passage in Mark 4 where Jesus likens the Kingdom of God to a seed.
 

God, we know that your kingdom, your kin-dom, the Community of Heaven
Is like a seed -
It’s potential unknowable;
The smallness of the seed
Defying the magnitude of its becoming:
Bursting with life.

We don’t always know the end result
Just by looking at the seed.
Infinitesimal, full of potential, the seed is the start,
The prime of possibility.

The smallest of seeds
Can become the tallest of trees
Bearing fruit and shade,
Nourishing creatures,
Fractalizing, reproducing, and expanding,
Continuing out infinitely.

How should we understand big things?
By looking closely at small things.
How should we understand God’s Community?
By looking at its seeds among us.

This is what we want to be part of:
This ever-growing
     Ever-including
     Ever-sharing
     Ever-nourishing
     Ever-creative
     Ever-expanding, ever-life-giving communion.

May the seed find good soil in us. Amen

Ordinary Time (Year B): Litany for Crazy ol' Jesus

The Lectionary passages for Proper 5 (Year B) contain the story of the time Jesus' family thought he had gone crazy. His ideas and practices were so far outside of their comfort zone that they thought he'd gone nuts. The text says: “When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, "He has gone out of his mind" (Mark 3:21).

This is what I love about him. Unexpected, unconventional, challenger of expectations and assumption; dumping old paradigms for what's sane and respectable and inventing new ones made out of entirely different stuff.

 

Christ, you arrived on earth with a lot of harebrained ideas.
People thought you were crazy
For your unconventional brand of kindness,
For breaking rules,
For making unexplainable miracles happen,
For re-interpreting scripture,
For rejecting violent means ,
For consorting with sinners,
For re-defining family (1);
For giving unexpected advice:
     Like, love your enemies
     Be humble
     Pray for those who persecute you
     Don’t judge
     Consider the poor
     Make peace.

You baffled everybody you met, from the time you were a child.
You’re still astounding us now.

It’s this same unpredictable grace,
This dazzling mercy,
This lively Love
This upside-down agenda,
That captures our imaginations many years after you last walked the earth in flesh.
We are captivated by you.

Look, here are our hearts:
Put your own heart in us.
Look, here are our minds:
Awaken them.
Look, here are our hands:
Show us the work to do.
Look, here are our voices:
Teach us to speak mercy.

You, crazy old Jesus! You ineffable Force of Love:
You’re the one we want to follow.

Amen
 

1) Mark 3:35

From the Book: Litany for Looking After Each Other

MY FIRST-EVER VIDEO READING! I feel like doing some readings lately. So here's a reading of a litany from my upcoming book _Call and Response: Litanies for Congregational Prayer_.

I've been working on it non-stop (well, around pastoring, parenting, and life-maintenance)! I just keep thinking of things I want to add. Editing is long. Litanies have a lot of punctuation. And I am slow and think way too much about things.

In the meantime, if you want to support my work you can do so at www.patreon.com/franpratt  . At this point, my Patreon mainly subsidizes a few hours of childcare so I can write more litanies and edit the book. Worth it! But I've got dreams.

As always, if you have specific litanies you'd like to see birthed into the world, send me themes, topics, issues, etc. And take videos! I love to see your congregations in action!

Thanks for subscribing and reading. Thanks for praying along. And thanks for being rays of love and light in the world.

Litany for Re-Birth

This litany is based upon the Gospel reading for Trinity Sunday, Year B, the story of Nicodemus and his nighttime run on enlightenment. If you're looking for a litany more specifically geared toward Trinitarian themes, please see this one.

 

Christ, we hate to admit that we can identify with Nicodemus,
Who had a reputation to uphold;
So he came to visit you at night, through the back door; (1)
Burning with curiosity,
Hoping for enlightenment on the sly.
You know how secretly needy we are.

You are a leader of rascals and rebels,
Keeper of mysteries,
Able to reach over the laws of nature
And grab hold of the miraculous,
Pulling it into our here and now:
Miracles of healing and transcendence.

We are fascinated by you,
And a little confused.
We are humbled by you.
You teach us how little we know.

You are like a telescope,
Showing us the mysteries of heaven.
You are like a mirror,
Showing us our potential.

You seem to speak to us in riddles: To get to the end,
We must go back to the beginning.
To get to the Community of God
We must be re-born. (2)

Well, birth is a messy business,
A rite of passage for all.
Grant that we may participate in this mystery:
To be born of spirit
From the womb of heaven
Into the arms of heaven.

Amen

1) John 3:2
2) John 3:3

Pentecost (Year B): Litany for Walking in Spirit

This Litany for Pentecost Sunday is taken from a reading of the Lectionary passages for the day.

 

God, let us walk in the persuasive love and power of your Spirit,
Seeing with your vision,
Dreaming with your creativity,
Speaking the universal language of love. (1)

You are making yourself available to us:
Through Christ and his communion,
You are making yourself known to us,
Through Spirit and her presence.

Grant that we may cast off our old prejudices:
    Regarding gender,
    Regarding race,
    Regarding qualifications;
And that we may follow the wind of your spirit
Wherever it goes,
Listening to the whispering rustle of your voice, (2)
Wherever we hear it.

The energy of your spirit
Is the energy we need
To power our good works,
To fuel our imaginations.

Pour out your Spirit upon us,
That we may speak to death and bring forth life, (3)
Embody your ways,
And create with you your city of light.
Amen



1) Acts 2:6
2) Acts 2:2
3) Ezekiel 37:9
 

Litany for God Our Mother

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please consider becoming a patron.)
 

I came across this hymn “Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth” written by Jean Janzen (1991) and based on text from the 14th Century mystic Julian of Norwich.

Mothering God, you gave me birth
in the bright morning of this world.
Creator, source of every breath,
you are my rain, my wind, my sun.

Mothering Christ, you took my form,
offering me your food of light,
grain of new life, and grape of love,
your very body for my peace.

Mothering Spirit, nurturing one,
in arms of patience hold me close,
so that in faith I root and grow
until I flow’r, until I know.

The beauty and simplicity of Janzen's lyrics were part of the inspiration for this week’s Mother’s Day litany. I know that there are many for whom motherhood is a painful subject. I wanted to create space here for those who are not mothers but wish they were, for those for whom motherhood has caused pain, for those whose mothers were unhealthy or hurtful, for those who have lost mothers or children, and for those who don't aspire to motherhood.

There are also those of us women who grew up in churchy contexts who were taught that motherhood was the pinnacle of our aspirations in life. That woman = husband + child. That somehow, on our own we were unworthy of existence. So I also want to create space for those who have had to do battle against those ideas. You are worthy of the loving nurture of God; God's eye is on mothers and non-mothers and non-traditional mothers alike.


Great Mother God
Who created mothers
And invented mothering,
Mother us now:
    Into your peace and comfort,
    Into your nurturing love,
    Into the kindness of your presence,
    Into the shadow of your wings.

We know that mothering takes many forms,
And is done by many kinds of people
In different ways and situations;
Give us the wisdom of your mother-heart.

We know that love is risky:
There’s always the possibility of pain,
The risk of disappointment or loss.
Give us the courage of your mother-heart.

We bring to you the cares of the brokenhearted.
We bring to you the pain of the disappointed.
We bring to you the hardship of the overwhelmed.
We bring to you the ache of the separated.

Teach us the worth of our own souls,
And the value of our existence.

Give us your mother-love:
To heal us,
To nourish us,
To share freely with the world.
Amen

 

 


 

Easter 6 (Year B): Litany for Lasting Fruit

This litany is taken from a reading of John 15, which is part of the Lectionary selection for 5/6/18. In particular this verse:
"You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name." (John 15:16)

 

God, in Christ you let us in on your Grand Plan. (1)
You shared your heart with us,
And invited us in to be part of your agenda:
Part of the healing.

You didn’t set up barriers - not to baptism, nor the table, nor forgiveness, nor community
You tore them down!
You ripped down the temple dividers (2).
You flung open doors.
You set up a new paradigm for faith
And a new benchmark for success:

Which is love.
Always love. (3)

We want to do things for you:
Beautiful things.
We want to create things for you:
Things that last.

So help us, God, to do small things with great love (4),
And great things with great love;
And lasting things that create love,
And creative things that love well and long.

Amen
 

  1. John 15:9

  2. Matthew 27:51

  3. John 15:12

  4. From a quote attributed to Mother Teresa: 'Do small things with great love'

Easter 5 (Year B): Litany for Abiding in Love

This litany is based on a reading of the Lectionary selections for the Fifth Sunday in Easter.

 

God, you put us here on earth as embodied human beings,
For your glory and our learning.
We experience you in all kinds of ways:
    In nature,
    In relationships,
    In community,
    In silence,
    In sacredness.

You dropped a lot of hints about yourself along the way,
     From stone tablets to still, small voices,
     From prophets to angel messengers,
     From rainbows to rescues.
Then you sent Christ Jesus, the epitome of you, to teach us about yourself,
     About your love,
     About forgiveness,
     And about resurrection.

Let us love one another,
Because love is from God;
Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
God is Love. You are Love. (1)
As Christ abides in you, and we abide in Christ, ()
So we abide in Love.

We meditate on all we’ve learned of you,
And we meditate on the life and work of Christ;
Asking that we may know more deeply, more fully,
The Love in which we abide.
 

Amen

1) 1 John 4:7,8
2) John 15:4


 

Easter 4 (Year B): Litany for the Good Shepherd

This litany is taken from a reading of the Lectionary passages for the 4th week of Eastertide, Year B. You can also find Litany for Sheep here.


The Lord is our Shepherd
We lack for nothing. (1)
You are the Good Shepherd.
The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (2)

As Christ has laid down his life for us
So we ought to lay down our lives for one another (2).

Beloved, let us love, not in word or speech,
But in truth and action.
By this we will be reassured:
That we believe in Christ Jesus,
And that we love one another
Just as Christ has commanded.

For the Good Shepherd has taught us by his good example:
To share with those in need (3),
To bring the outsider in (4),
To abide in the Spirit (5),
To lay down our own agendas,
To take up Love’s agenda. (6)

Lead us, Good Shepherd,
Into green pastures,
Beside still waters;
And restore our souls to your peace. (7)

Amen


1) Psalm 23:1
2) 1 John 3:16-18
3) 1 John 3:17
4) John 10:16
5) 1 John 3:24
6) John 10:17
7) Psalm 23:1-3

 

Litany for Earth Day

Earth Day is April 22.


God, on this day we celebrate the gift of this planet, Earth,
Which you created for us as a home:
     A home for humanity
     A home for creatures
     A home for plants
     A good gift of creation.

We are truly sorry for the ways we have corrupted it.
Forgive us.
We are truly sorry for the ways we have disregarded its well-being.
Forgive us.
We are truly sorry for the ways we’ve been complicit in systems that degrade it.
Forgive us.

Help us, Oh God,
To be good stewards of your gifts to us.
Help us, Oh God,
To realize our connectedness to creation.
Help us, Oh God,
To understand our reliance upon the Earth.
Help us, Oh God,
To bring healing to the planet.
Help us, Oh God,
To make changes that benefit all creatures.

As all creation praises and glorifies you,
So we praise you.
As all creation reflects your character and beauty,
So we seek to reflect your beauty.
As all creation supports and sustains us,
So we seek to support one another.

For the gracious gift and vast beauty of creation,
We give thanks.
Amen

Easter 3 (Year B): Litany for the Body of Christ

This litany is drawn from a reading of the Lectionary passages for the Third Sunday in Easter, Year B.

Resurrected Christ, you came to us after your journey through death,
Speaking peace,
Eating and drinking,
Embodied and whole.

And yet, your body still bore the scars of your acceptance,
The marks of your ordeal.
As we, too, bear the scars of our trauma
In this we find hope.

In your body you wear the full arc of humanity:
    It’s struggle and hope,
    It’s birth and death,
    It’s pain and redemption.
Also you carry the full spectrum of divinity:
    Creation’s origin,
    The seeds of the cosmos
    Love’s power.

And these are echoed within us, too:
In Spirit’s presence,
In DNA’s intertwined strands,
In Imago Dei. (1)

So we set out to echo, each day of our lives on this earth,
Your “Peace Be With You,” (2)
Your graceful mission,
Your healing presence,
Your hopeful faith,
Your unstoppable love.

Grant that we may reflect the fullness of your beauty
In all we are, all we say, and all we do.

Amen.



(1) Imago Dei is a latin term meaning "image of God" that applies to humans and refers to the relationship between Creator and created.
(2) Luke 24:36
 

Easter Week 2 (Year B): Litany for the Resurrected Christ

This litany follows along with the Lectionary Readings for the Second Sunday of Easter. For more litanies, consider becoming a patron.

Resurrected Christ, as you appeared to your apostles, speaking peace and showing them the evidence of your ordeal and victory,
Appear to us now.
Be with us and among us
As we learn to live resurrected lives.

We see now that you always lived as though resurrection were possible
Even before you had done that work.
Your every breath, step, and touch,
Was a testament to the newness of life.

Breathe on us, Resurrected Christ
That we may receive your spirit. (1)
Breathe on us, Resurrected Christ,
That we may receive your peace.
Breathe on us, Resurrected Christ,
That we may receive your life.
Breathe on us, Resurrected Christ,
That we may be of one heart and soul. (2)

Teach us how to live with the hope and assurance
That new life is just around the corner.
Teach us how to live with the peace and trust,
That what looks to us like death is resurrection’s first act.

And may we walk this earth,
Speaking peace,
Fostering healing,
And living out resurrection.

Amen

1) John 20:22
2) Acts 4:32

 

Easter Day (Year B): Litany for Christ’s Life

God, in human form you lived on the earth,
Doing ordinary things;
But also doing extraordinary things:
Preaching, teaching, healing, calling.
You proclaimed the Good News from a human mouth:
The Kingdom of God is here!

Your good work and proclamation drew the attention of worldly powers
Who perceived it as a threat,
Because it was: The kingdom of God undoes everything it touches
And builds it again newly.

And, by the power of human sin, violence, and confusion -
You were killed -
A fate you did not resist, but instead accepted -
You were buried -
So that you might shame the powers, and teach them a new way:
You were resurrected!

Hallelujah! This changes everything!
Hallelujah!
From the enemies we love, to the suffering we accept -
Hallelujah!
From the violence we reject, to the justice-mercy-healing work we do -
Hallelujah!
This Way-of-God-come-down-to-earth completely rearranges our perspective!
Hallelujah!

For Christ has torn the temple down
And rebuilt it.
The Way of God came down.
The Way of God lives on in us.

Amen

 

Good Friday (Year B): Litany for Christ's Work

I encourage everyone to read the lectionary passages for Good Friday, Year B, before reading this litany.

God, we know that in our darkest hour, when we feel like you have forsaken us
You are with us.
There, in the darkness and pain,
You are with us.
In the grief and disappointment,
You are with us.

We know that the pain is never unending,
Although it consumes us in the moment.
We know that the end of the story is never death
Although we often feel it is.
We know that the darkness of a tomb is never our ultimate home,
Although when we’re there we feel we will never leave.
We know that the Savior, God Incarnate, went willingly to pain, death, and tomb,
To show us the end of suffering.

And in his suffering,
We find hope.
In his going down to darkness,
We find light.
In his succumbing to death,
We find life.

Christ allowed the powers of this world to do their dirty work on him,
So he could teach us about redemption.
And it is on this work, Christ’s work, that we meditate,
To learn something precious.

Amen

Palm Sunday (Year B): Litany for the Passion

This litany follows along with the story of the Passion of Christ in Mark's Gospel. You can also find a litany for the Palms here.

God, you showed us who you are in the incarnation:
Yourself as human,
Coming down to earth, enduring human suffering,
Becoming a servant.

And despite your meekness
You offended the Powers;
You drew the wrath of religious and political establishments
You became their scapegoat.

You endured mocking and scorn,
A crown of thorns,
Brutal violence,
And went to death with forgiveness on your lips.

You, Great Heart, have shamed the Powers that killed you:
Exposed violence,
Eschewed vengeance,
And by acceptance, defeated death.

In refusing to repay violence with violence,
You showed us the Path of Peace.
In forgiving your enemies and abusers,
You demonstrated love the world had never seen.

Hosanna!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Lent 5 (Year B): Litany for Losing

Today's litany comes from the Lectionary text in John 12 for week 5 of Lent (Year B).


God, it’s an upside-down, unexpected world you’ve made.
We can’t assume we understand anything.
Your imagination is unfathomable;
We can spend our whole lives exploring your ways.

To gain status
We must become lowly.
To grow up
We must root down.
To be glorified
We must embrace death. (John 12:24)
To gain life
We must lose it. (John 12:25)
To gain assurance
We must embrace paradox.

We all face loss in this life:
   Loss of loved ones
   Loss of status
   Loss of fortune
   Loss of certainty
In loss we choose: hope or misery.

For in your unfathomable mystery, what was lost
Is found.
What was buried in death
Is planted.
What was useless
Is glorified.
What was old
Is new.
What was hopeless,
Is full of possibility.

Help us to remember the hopelessness of Christ
As he lay in the tomb;
How in his stillness, in his loss,
Lay the seeds of life.

Amen