Litany for You're Enough, a.k.a. Litany for Hannah (Year B, Proper 28)

This week’s Lectionary reading brings us to the story of Hannah in the book of 1 Samuel. Hannah’s culture has taught her that to be worthy as a woman she must behave appropriately (1 Samuel 1:16), be wife to a decent man, and bear male children. Sons. Sons are the pinnacle of womanly accomplishment and worth in this context. Hannah has everything else: a husband who loves and prefers her over his other wife, a household, social status, food on the table. But she has no son, a situation she mourns bitterly.  And, even worse, her husband’s other wife rubs it in her face all the time. Rivalry and jealousy between these women makes the pain of her barrenness even worse. We can imagine her home being fairly toxic on the inside, despite appearing prosperous on the outside.

So Hannah regularly pleads with God to give her this thing, this one thing that she believes will complete her life and save her from worthlessness. She weeps and mourns bitterly before the Lord. So bitterly in fact that Eli the priest thinks for a moment that she has come into the temple drunk.

And God in God’s mercy capitulates. God gives her what she wants, the son she bargains and begs for, that she believes will fulfill her. Which is great! And a kid is a good thing to want! God is pretty nice like that, although that’s not everyone’s story. Plenty of people beg and plead for things (or babies) they want and never get them. Or they get them in ways they didn’t anticipate.

But here’s the secret: when we circle back around to the love and regard of God, the truth we’ll eventually find is that we already had what we needed. There’s nothing we have to do or have to make God love us. God’s love is before and behind everything; it’s the base-level assumption we can make. The abundance of love we get doesn’t depend upon our relationships with other people, or what we do, or how healthy we are, or what babies we have or don’t have.

All the ways society tries to sell us on the idea that we aren’t worthy as we are, we aren’t enough as we are, we aren’t pretty or thin enough, we aren’t rich or accomplished enough, we aren’t nice enough, we aren’t bold enough - it’s all rubbish. You’ve got exactly what you need to be loved and welcomed by God.

So, Hannah, we’re really glad you had Samuel - that turned out pretty well. But if you hadn’t, you’d still be worthy of a story.

God, our culture is always sending us messages
That say we aren’t enough.
Our economy is always trying to sell us something
That will make us worthy.

When the whole truth, and the whole message of Christ
Is that the Community of God is right here, right now,
And we have everything we need to live in it,
To be fulfilled by Love.

Yes, there are things we want to do and have in this life,
But none of them make us worthy of love.
Our dignity and belovedness are innate -
The love of God toward us is a given.

So much of the work we are here to do
Is to learn to notice love -
How it’s already abundant
Already evident
Already the fabric of the universe
Already shareable.

Our belovedness, and the resources that affords us
Are what we must wake up to,
So that we can silence the voices that shame and destroy,
And be a people who walk in love.

Through all the noise we hear the voice of God saying:
“You are loved.
You are love.
You love.”

Amen.


Litany for the Widow’s Mite (Year B, Proper 27)

This litany is inspired by this week’s Lectionary reading from the Gospel of Mark.

God, many of us don’t think we have much to offer.
We discount our gifts, creativity, or abilities;
Or we have trauma that keeps us from offering,
Or we don’t trust ourselves.

But we know that you see us and are inviting us to give,
No matter how small the gift.
We know that you accept us,
    Even our two-bit gifts,
    Our meagerness,
    Our poverty of heart;
Because you are abundantly loving,
    Abundantly patient,
    Abundantly kind,
    Abundantly generous.

And we know that when we offer up ourselves,
Our time,
Our resources,
Our attention,
You make miracles with what we’ve offered -
Water becomes wine (1),
Loaves and fishes become food for thousands (2),
Streams flow in deserts (3).

No gift is too small in your eyes,
No start is too humble,
No moment too late,
No effort unseen.

The smallest seed becomes the largest tree.
The most ordinary generosity changes the world.

So, we offer to you our mites and bits
And ask for them to be enlarged,
That you would expand our efforts and our seeing
So that we may be part of the transformation.

Amen

  1. John 2:1-11

  2. John 6:1-14

  3. Psalm 107:35

Litany for Neighbors (Proper 24, Year B)

This litany is inspired by a reading of this week’s Gospel passage from Mark 12.

Christ, you taught us the keys to life,
The greatest commandments:
Love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength;
Love our neighbors as ourselves (1).

We are asked to love Love
And to serve Love.
Teach us what this means, oh God,
And help us to do it well.

So fill us with love, oh God,
That we don’t have room for anything else.
Let us be enlarged and expanded
And awakened by Love.

Let our eyes never veer from Love,
Our hearts never stray from Love,
Our minds be fixed on Love,
Our bodies dedicated to love’s service.
And as we do the work of learning to accept and love ourselves,
Let us also accept and love our neighbors.  

Let care and concern for our neighbors well-being and highest good
Be the hallmark of our work.
For these are our neighbor and our family:
The poor, the lonely, the sick, the prisoner
The underdog, the misunderstood, the ones who long,
The far-away and the beggar at our gate,
The flawed and the downtrodden
The familiar and the alien.

Love is who and Whose we are.
And love is what we do.
Amen.


  1. Mark 12:30,31

Litany for Good Things (Proper 25, Year B)

This litany is based on a reading of the Lectionary passages for this week from Job, Psalms, and Jeremiah: “With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble…”

God, you invented all things from nothing.
Your imagination was the beginning of everything.
We get to experience life and beauty
Because you imagined them.
We get to explore and learn in the world
Because you brought us out of yourself.

We get stuck a lot on judging things and situations.
We say “this is good and that is bad.”
We approve some things and condemn others.
We accept some experiences and resist others.

But the truth is, resistance causes us suffering;
No purpose of yours can be thwarted (1).
The truth is, we can’t know the vastness of your goodness,
And our best option is to surrender to it.

Even in what we consider trouble,
You do good things.
Even when we experience pain,
You do good things.
Even when all we see is chaos,
You do good things.

We surrender now to the Highest Good,
The Deepest Joy,
The Biggest Love,
The Best Life.
And it’s in you, God; made by and through you, for you, for us:
The Divine Goodness.

May we who sow in tears
Reap with shouts of joy (2).
May we seek Goodness
And find it all the days of our lives.

Amen

1) Job 42:2
2) Psalm 126:5



Litany for the Greatness of God (Year B, Proper 24)

This week’s Lectionary includes the passage from Job in which God sits Job down and sets him straight about who’s Who in the universe. Then the Mark 10 passage, Jesus sits his disciples down and sets them straight about the nature of Greatness. Taken together, the passages are an invitation to return to wonder and humility and trust; to refrain from centering ourselves in the narrative, and start looking both outside ourselves, and deep within.*


God, so often we are hunkered down, focused on our responsibilities,
Our eyes on our small screens,
Our awareness on our troubles or our achievements;
That we forget about your greatness and beauty.

We forget to look at stars and clouds.
We forget to partake of silence and solitude.
We forget to listen to wind and whisper.
We let our attention wander away from you.

Remind us, oh God, in our daily bread and practice,
That you are the author of all things,
That you made love the building blocks of the universe,
That your kindness caused heaven and nature to exist.

Remind us, oh God, that we are both your handiwork and your Beloved,
That we are connected to all of creation,
That we are temples in which you dwell (1);
And yet you dwell in unapproachable light (2).

And when we get too busy trying to know you with our rational minds
Trying to think thoughts about you;
Bring us back to infinite enfolding love,
Which can only be experienced, felt, and surrendered to

Help us to return to wonder,
And turn our fear to love;
For you are clothed with honor and majesty,
Wrapped in light as with a garment (3).
You inspire wonder and trust.
All beauty has its origin in you.

Amen


  1. 1 Corinthians 3:16

  2. 1 Timothy 6:16

  3. Psalm 104:1,2

*I was especially encouraged by last week’s meditations from the Center for Action and Contemplation. The God Particle particularly made my eyes leaky.

Patreon Only: Litany for Grieving

I recently sat with my grandmother in the last days of her life. My mom and I were there holding her hand as she took her last breaths. It was a profound experience that has brought me to think about all the forms grief takes, and my own experience of grieving - how unpredictable it is, how sometimes consuming, how suddenly past only to reappear again. We grieve events, losses, trauma, time passing, people passing… and I’m coming to believe that grieving is not just some mental or emotional space that we are plunged into by life events; it is also a skill we can practice and hold space for. And the only way to get through this life whole is to learn the skill. If we can’t accept pain and process it through appropriate grief, we will be constantly resisting the experience of life. Through grief, we learn to integrate experiences we (dualistically) judge to be “good” and “bad”, bringing them into wholeness. The more life I experience, the more I’m convinced that learning to hold the tension of grief is as powerful a life skill as, say, positive thinking or good communication or self-care. Here's a prayer for skill-building, available on my Patreon page.

If my work has value to you and your community, please consider becoming a supporter on Patreon, where you get access to exclusive litanies and content. This month’s Patreon-only litany is Litany for Grieving.

Litany for Conscious Anger

God, so many of us go around with anger simmering right under the surface of our emotions:
We’ve been wronged.
We’ve been traumatized.
We’ve been duped.
There is injustice.
There are broken systems.
We’re angry with ourselves.
We’re angry with others.

And sometimes we can’t understand what you’re doing so we are angry with you
We feel you’ve forgotten us.
We feel like the world is falling to pieces around us,
And you have failed us.

Our anger can be a useful tool
That propels us toward right action,
Fuels our good works,
And causes us to change.

But sometimes our anger doesn’t find its proper place -
It burrows down and festers;
Causing us more pain than the wound did to begin with,
And its effects seep out sideways.

Oh God, teach us to deal rightly with anger:
To funnel its energy properly,
To release it at the appropriate time and place,
To protect ourselves from anger gone bad.

Teach us how not to fight anger with anger,
But to be peacemakers and lovers;
Reflecting the image of Christ,
And covered in grace. Amen

Litany for Victims of Abuse/Assault

I have also written Litany for Victims of Sexual Violence, on this topic. As I have watched the news lately, and heard from so many of my own friends who have trauma from abuse, assault, and violence, either sexual or otherwise, I feel its necessary to dedicate more time and space to these topics.


Oh God, when will victims cease to receive blame?
How long, O Lord, must we wait for justice?
When will the oppressed and abused be regarded?
How long, O Lord?
When will rulers cease to be tyrants?
How long, O Lord?
When will the poor receive mercy?
How Long, O Lord?

We speak to you of a tragic state of affairs.
We speak to you, Lord, about injustice.
We speak to you of the pain of the oppressed.
We speak to you, Lord, about struggle.

We look to the day when our righteous anger is no longer necessary,
When our vigilance is no longer needed,
When our activism is no longer relevant,
When our search for justice is done;

We look to the day when the warrior may rest,
The children be at peace,
The sword be laid down,
The mourning be comforted.

Our longing is known to you;
Our sighing is not hidden from you (1)
Come quickly to rescue us.
Redeem us.
Make haste to help us (2),
O Lord, our salvation.

Amen

1) Psalm 38:9
2) Psalm 38:22

Litany for Sophia (Proper 19, Year B)



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The Lectionary passages for this week contain images of the Divine Feminine in the form of Sophia, the Wisdom of God. She is mostly a forgotten idea among present-day Evangelicals, but other traditions have kept her alive. I myself have found solace and healing in studying her and bringing her into my thinking about God, and in reclaiming the Divine Feminine. I recommend reading this article by Jann Aldredge-Clanton for an introduction. Also check out our latest sermon series “God as She,” from Peace of Christ Church.


Oh God, the heavens are declaring your beauty;
The earth is proclaiming your character (1).
We mostly don’t hear this
Because we don’t stop long enough to listen.

Your own Wisdom is calling out to us
Day and night (2) -
She who is an emanation of your light,
A mirror of your being,
An image of your goodness (3).
She does all things;
She renews all things;
She orders all things;
She is better than any other light,
More worthy than any star (4).

If we don’t hear her,
It’s not because she isn’t speaking.
If we don’t see her,
It’s not because she isn’t there.

Oh God, open our eyes and ears to Wisdom,
To the beauty of your Person.
And make us ever more able to take you in,
To understand more fully,
To know more deeply,
To have patience to listen well. Amen




1) Psalm 19:1

2) Proverbs 1:20

3) Wisdom 7:26

4) Wisdom 7:27, 29




A Poem for Holy Cross (Year B)

The Feast of Holy Cross is September 14.

To kill the hero is the utterest of mistakes;
Bad storytelling at best;
Stark failure at worst.

To glorify the tool, the rood, the cross
Admission of defeat at best;
Unhealthy obsession at worst.

And yet the worst mistaken failure is the world’s best story;
And the worst instrument the most shining (1).

Because when the worst shames the best,
Makes it meaningless and futile,
Reinvents its deathful purpose toward life -
Reimagines its ending as beginning….

Then we can be ushered into something entirely new.
And we can, maybe, grasp a new symbology,
Understand a new language,
Grow synaptic pathways previously unheard of.

If we can do this, then perhaps the sting of our own shame and torture and personal hells
Can become something else too?


  1. 1 Cor 1:18



Litany for Social Justice (Proper 18, Year B)

This week's Lectionary selection seems particularly fitting, coming on the heels of the release of the "Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel" put out by a group of Evangelicals. I believe these texts and the teachings of Christ, as well as modern psychological and social science, all refute and shame that statement. It’s appropriate that this week’s selections center around themes of justice, compassion, and learning to see the world through the eyes of its most marginalized inhabitants. Our faith and the narrative stories it contains, our logic, and our research tell us that they have a better, wider view from the bottom of society than the over-40 white men at the top; and we choose how we respond to their perspective.

 

God, we know you look with compassion upon the lowly
The ones society ignores.
We know you listen to the cries of the weary and destitute;
Your eyes are upon them (1).

Teach us to follow true religion:
To not show favoritism to the rich (2),
To favor justice over comfort and convenience,
To care for the poor, the lonely, the orphan,
To demonstrate mercy,
To withhold judgement (3).

We know that the work ahead,
The work of righting wrong systems,
The work of providing for our weakest siblings,
The work of resisting evil programming (4),
Is the work of the Community of Heaven,
And never guaranteed to be easy.

Help us, Oh God our Healer,
As we re-evaluate our perspectives (5),
As we widen and deepen our listening,
As we learn the meaning of sacrificial love,
As we put ourselves in the shoes of the marginalized,
As we exercise humility.

May our faith be alive with good works,
With generosity and love (6);
And when we come into your presence,
And the fullness of your kingdom,
May we be remembered for our compassion,
The compassion of Christ. Amen

1) James 2:5
2) James 2:1
3) James 2:13
4) Psalm 125:5
5) Isaiah 35:5
6) Proverbs 22:9
 

Litany for the Heart (Proper 17, Year B)

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This week’s Gospel reading comes from Mark 7, where Jesus is challenged by some Pharisees as to why his disciples don’t follow all the rules they ought to. And Christ seems to think they are focusing on the wrong things, that the inward state of the heart is more worth working on.

 

God, the current of your love is flowing to us;
We don’t want anything to get in the way of it -
Not anything outside of us,
Or anything inside our own hearts.

We are beginning to understand that evil
Is whatever impedes love.
So help us, God; and don’t let us get caught in the trap
Of following rules,
Of observing tradition,
Of controlling behavior,
Of managing appearances,
And ignoring the state of our hearts.

We know we must be transformed from the inside out
That we must do inner work to become aligned with love:*
Disconnecting from judgement,
Releasing resentment,
Clearing hostility,
Relinquishing pride,
Cultivating compassion,
Creating peace.

And we know that we must allow love to work on us, removing impediments,
Restoring us to our truest nature:
God-children,
Love-centered,
Heart-open,
Christ-conscious,
Creative beings,
Reflecting your heart in ours.

Let our hearts, like beacons, point the way to yours,
Shining Love’s illumination. Amen


*I actually believe we ARE aligned with love, we just have to wake up and realize it, and clear out all the stuff that keeps us from seeing it. But for the purposes of the flow of this prayer, I’m using this wording.

Litany for Strength (Proper 16, Year B)

Much of the book of Ephesians is a re-imagination of how followers of The Way should respond to ordinary yet oppressive paradigms, subverting and disarming them. This litany is inspired by a reading of the Lectionary epistle for the week, from Ephesians 6, in which the author re-imagines weapons and weaponry in light of the paradigm of Christ. We no longer require conventional weapons and armor - they won't get us anywhere in this work. We need imagination and presence and persistence instead, the mind of Christ. We are invited into a new kind of strength, one that looks altogether different than violence, subjugation, and hierarchy; one that elevates Love's authority above all.

 

God, we live in soul-testing times
God, give us strength.
Times when evil is cloaked as politics and religion
God, give us strength.
When moral catastrophe is normal
God, give us strength.
When lies are told more often than truth
God, give us strength.

We put on the whole armor of God,
Belt of truth,
Breastplate of righteousness,
Peace at our feet,
Shield of faith,
Helmet of salvation,
Sword of the Spirit,
Daily rhythm of prayer (1).

We strengthen ourselves - not to kill
But to bring life!
To set free!
To wage peace!

Because we know that our enemies don’t wear human flesh,
But are found in systems, power structures, age-old traditions,
Powers of darkness,
Forces of evil;
And our best arms and ammunition
Are the love and light of Christ.

For freeing prisoners and making the dead rise,
God give us strength.
For breaking down injustice and resisting despair and apathy,
God, give us strength.
For undoing broken paradigms and rebuilding healthy ones,
God give us strength.

We ask for help, that we may be strong in times of trouble,
Steadfast under pressure,
Kind in the face of evil,
Peaceful in the wake of chaos. Amen

1) Ephesians 6:13-17

Litany for Revealing

Last week’s news about large-scale sexual abuse of children by clergy in a Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania has shaken and sickened a lot of people, myself included. It’s another example of the great revealing (apocalypse) that is happening in these days. Hidden things are coming to light. #metoo and #churchtoo are happening. White supremacy and racism are coming to the forefront of the collective consciousness in a new way. Motives and deep-seated sins, what the scriptures call “powers, principalities, and spiritual forces,” are being revealed. Evils that have gone unacknowledged (in a mainstream way) are coming into light.

I believe this is the Community of Heaven breaking in. And our task is not to resist it, but to become contemplative, to listen and examine our complicities, to search our own hearts; to “get our people,” as my Black teachers say - by which they mean we should be speaking to our own tribes and inner circles and helping them get on board and understand.

Whenever I think of what’s been happening the last couple of years*, I get the image in my mind of a glacier moving over a land mass, slowly slowly, leaving behind a mess of rubble and fertile soil and reshaped landscape. Our first step is admitting our landscape needs reshaping, which we can’t see unless we step back far enough to get a good view. The evidence is in every school shooting, every Black life ended by police, every Nazi rally, every sexual abuse scandal, every Latinx child separated from her parents at the border, every executed prisoner, and on and on. Without a doubt, our landscape needs reshaping.

And it’s coming. Millimeter by millimeter. Breath by breath. Prayer by prayer. Awakening by awakening. It’s coming and is happening now. The kingdom of God is at hand. The Community of Heaven has work to do. We shirk and deny and resist and cling to the past at our own risk. Help or get out of the way.

 

God, forces are at work in our world,
Which are at odds with your goals:
Death and destruction,
Injustice and abuse,
Apathy and self-centeredness,
Violence and hatred,
Status quo and inertia,
Distraction and disregard.

Evil is being revealed,
And hidden sins brought to light.
But ahead we can see,
Your kingdom coming,
Your people awakening,
Your glory shining.

We can see how today’s messy revealing
Is tomorrow’s hope,
How the rubble of today’s destroyed systems
Is tomorrow’s fertile soil.

So we trust,
And we follow,
And we stay awake
And we keep watch.
And we don’t shirk our work,
And we don’t deny our complicity,
And we don’t disempower the prophets,
And we don’t silence the marginalized.
And we don’t surround ourselves with so much noise that we can’t hear your voice.
And we don’t allow ourselves to despair.

We beat our swords into ploughshares.
We set our tables and open our doors.
We make way for the Community of God.
We prepare the way of the Lord.

Help us to humbly accept all the change that must happen,
In our society and in our own hearts,
To work together for new life and for good,
And to walk the peaceful way of Christ. Amen

 

*Really, what's been happening has been happening for a couple millenia, with various movements and intensities. I'm taking a micro-within-a-macro view here. With lots of gratitude and appreciation for the saints who have gone before me.
 

Litany for Back to School

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God, as our children return to the rhythm of the school year,
We ask for blessing upon them:
That they may learn and grow,
That they may make and be good friends,
That they may have their minds opened,
That their hearts may be soft,
That they may be protected from evil,
That they may be filled with love.

As they make independent decisions each day
Be with them.
As they work and play
Be with them.
As they relate to other people
Be with them.
As they navigate tricky situations
Be with them.
As they confront their own hearts
Be with them.

For their teachers we pray for endless wells of patience-
Let it be so;
Wisdom and insight into each child-
Let it be so;
Creativity and abundant resources-
Let it be so;
Blessings on earth and in the spirit -
Let it be so;

We know that safety is never guaranteed for anyone,
But we ask for it anyway -
That your angels would guard and keep them,
That kind people would surround them.

Give us wisdom as we raise and teach them,
To model kindness, empathy, and awareness,
To encourage creativity and open-mindedness,
And to love and welcome them whole-heartedly.
Amen

Litany for Wisdom (Proper 15, Year B)

This week’s Lectionary selections center around Wisdom, and the search for Wisdom. We see Wisdom personified as a Divine Feminine aspect in Proverbs; we hear God’s pleasure in Solomon’s request for Wisdom in 1 Kings; and we are exhorted to live “not as unwise people, but wise” in Ephesians 5. In the Proverbs, we are invited to eat the bread at Wisdom's table, and later in John 6, Christ identifies himself as that bread.


God, as Solomon asked for Wisdom of old,
So we ask for insight and understanding.

We hear Wisdom calling (1);
Let us answer her.
Come, let us commune with Wisdom:
Let us enter her house,
Eat of her table,
And enjoy her delights.

For you have offered yourself, oh God:
Wisdom, Word, and Bread -
Different facets of yourself, different metaphors;
Same loving Spirit.

Give us hearts that hunger and thirst for Wisdom,
For true wisdom and understanding:
That we may lay aside immaturity, and live,
That we may and walk in the way of insight (2).
That we may depart from evil, and do good;
That we may seek peace, and pursue it (3);
Making for ourselves and the generations to come,
A world rich in spirit, and rich in peace.

Amen

1) Proverbs 9:3
2) Proverbs 9:6
3) Psalm 34:14