Litany for Unity

This week's Lectionary litany draws on the passages from Genesis 45, as well as Psalm 133 and Isaiah 56.

 

God, sometimes your commands are baffling! You seem to expect absurd things from us,
Things which go against our grain:
To love our enemies,
To forgive our betrayers,
To provide for our oppressors,
To eat at a table with sinners,
To support sick and poor people,
To renounce violence,
To welcome foreigners
To embrace outcasts (1).

Your paradigm is so different from ours --
Your sacrificial love. Our self-absorbed defense --
We can hardly wrap our minds around it,
And yet it is the most compelling thing we’ve ever heard.

When Joseph saw his brothers after so many years
Who had sold him into slavery and ruined his life,
He wept
And welcomed them.

How very good and pleasant it is
For kindred to live together in unity! (2)

Help us to remember in the midst of conflict and dispute:
We are one.
We are the betrayer,
And we are the betrayed.
We are the poor,
And we are the oppressor.
We are the sinner,
And we are the sinned against.
We are the weepers,
And we are the wept upon. (3)

You, God, have welcomed all to your table; every human being, your own child.
Let us dwell together in unity.

Amen

(1) Isaiah 56:8
(2) Psalm 133:1
(3) Gen 45:14, 15
 

Litany for Charlottesville, VA

So sad and burdened to hear the news coming from Charlottesville, Virginia this morning.
This litany was also published on the CBF blog.


God, we are sad to see the stark truth of demons that remain among us:
Hatred, bigotry, racism, and white supremacy.
We are sad to see flagrant parades of violence in our streets,
Flaunting prejudice and intolerance.
We mourn with our sisters and brothers who are harmed in body and soul
By these exhibitions.
Indeed, we are all harmed:
They are us and we are them.

We say No:
This can go no further.
We reproach these misguided souls
Resolutely and lovingly.

Help us not to bury our heads
Or resist the lesson before us:
Of the truth of the darkness that exists in our midst
Growing like weeds among wheat.

Help us to stamp out hate
By love and love alone.
Help us to preach peace on loudspeakers and pedestals,
But also in quiet relationships;
In art and poetry,
In song and dance,
In bread and wine,
In words written and spoken,
In pulpits and in alleys,
In boardrooms and porches.

Sneaky peace.
Overt peace.
Backroads peace.
Front door peace.

The way of Christ is peace.
The method of Christ is love.
The means of Christ is invitation.
The ends of Christ are unity.
The way of Christ
Is the way we follow.

Amen

Litany for Solitude

As I read this week's Lectionary passages, a couple of moments jumped out into my awareness:

This:

He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. (1 Kings 19:11-12)

and this:

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. (Matthew 14:23-25)
 

God was in the "sheer silence." And Jesus was alone before he walked on water. Take those for what you will, but I think they are pretty deep.

 

Beloved,
Oneness of All Things.
We know we must withdraw
Into silence
Into solitude
And yet we resist…

Because if no one is around then there is no one to validate us;
No one to reassure us that we are acceptable.
No one to reflect our fears back to us.
No one to ask for an opinion.
No one to distract us from our shadows.
No one but you and sheer silence (1).

It is only in solitude, which is to say, oneness with you
That we learn that we can walk on water (2).
Or heal sick people.
Or feed multitudes.
Or be raised from death.
Or bring heaven to earth.
In solitude we learn who we are.
In oneness with you we learn to be with others.

Help us to resist the pull of other things:
Responsibilities and possessions,
Noise and distractions,
Achievements and reputations,
Entertainments and addictions -
Things that lie to us, telling us they are more important.

Help us to draw ever deeper
Into the Center of All Things,
Into the Peace that Passes Understanding,(3)
Into the Love That Knows No Bounds.

Amen

 

(1) 1 Kings 19:12
(2) Matthew 14:23-25
(3) Philippians 4:7
 

Litany for Wrestling


This week's Lectionary selection includes the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel of God, and coming out with a limp.


To the Spirit of YHWH (God) we pray *
We speak from our deepest selves:

There is much to wrestle with in this life on earth:
Vocations
Human Relationships
Money
Reputations
Losses
Discernments
Not to mention, evil.

Most of us come out battered at worst, bruised at best. Certainly bearing scars.
None of us are exempt from trouble.
But there is a holiness to wrestling:
The worst is when we choose to not to engage.
From that we emerge unharmed,
But unchanged and unnamed (1).

So whatever you’ve given us to wrestle,
We will wrestle.
Help us to learn every lesson the first time, thoroughly.
Help us to go deep, without fear.
We will not let you go,
Until you’ve given us your blessing (2).

And whatever ways we must limp along after
We will know: we are better off than before.
For we have seen God face to face
And yet our lives are preserved (3).

Amen

 

1) Gen 32:28
2) Gen 32:26
3) Gen 32:30
*substitute the term of address for God that suits your community best. I like Yahweh, or YHWH. I also like Creator. But if God is most comfortable for you, use that.

Poem for Leah and Rachel

The Lectionary for July 30 includes the story of Leah and Rachel and Jacob. This is a hard story for me to engage with; the patriarchy and polygamy, the treatment of these two women is sometimes more than I can see past. There is much to learn from the story, but as a (modern, feminist) woman I must acknowledge the elephant there: two young powerless women being traded by their father for field labor, without their consent, determining the course of their lives. It arouses my own sorrow for the continuing plight of women in the world.

There are times when I can engage with a difficult text seamlessly. And sometimes not. This one was a not this week. So instead, I wrote a poem. Because, as a friend of mine who is a priest says, "If you can't make it happy, make it beautiful."

 

We made you work for it
But we were worth it.
You didn’t get exactly what you wanted at first
But in the end, you were happy.

We didn’t control our fate.
We had no say in whether, or when, we were given to you.

You obviously had a favorite.
Everyone knows that.
But we served you well
For little reward.
And you did the work. You agreed to the plan.
Because we were so valuable to you.

Plan A didn’t work out -
You were given second best;
A saboteur got the better of you,
While you, in your lust, weren’t paying attention.
Plan B got you your beloved,
Who was barren for the longest,
But beautiful and graceful
And resentful.

None of this was perfect. None ideal.
But you became rich anyway, a father of many.
We were jewels among your hoard,
Breeders among your flock.
Your 14 years of labor
Paid your penance.

Who is Jacob
To complain about his inheritance?
 

Litany for Jacob’s Ladder

The account of Jacob's dream of a ladder to heaven with angels ascending and descending it, and the words of God to Jacob, is part of the Lectionary for July 23.

God, in our dreams we see you;
Even in our sleep you speak to us.
Oh, that we would be so conscious in our waking,
So aware of you in our daily lives!

We dream of angels.
We dream of heaven.
We dream of ascending.
We dream of your kingdom coming down.

You were always with us,
Even when we didn’t realize.
The house of God is here,
The gate of heaven is here (1).

Let the blessing that began with Jacob (2).
Continue in us:
That you are with us, and will keep us wherever we go,
Always bringing us home to you;
That promises of your goodness
Will be fulfilled in us;
And that we will bless the world
By our presence in it (2).

1) Gen 28:17
2) Gen 28:14

Litany for Wheat and Weeds

This week's litany comes from the Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13, part of the Lectionary readings for July 23.

 

Here we are, God,
Waiting among weeds;
Trying our best to bear fruit,
Though many forces seek to choke us out.

Send your angels to us
To help and guide us.
Give us your protection
And let us rest in your goodness.

When all is said and done
We’ll be even closer to you:
Our wounds healed
Our hearts made whole;
Our trials will finally make sense,
Our lessons will reap a harvest of wisdom.

For you have sown good seed
Even though we’ve been confused sometimes.
Your goodness has stretched out long over your creation,
And you’ve patiently spared us time and again.
We’ll shine like the sun
Reflecting your light.

Amen

Litany for Jacob and Esau

The story of Jacob and Esau is part of this week's Lectionary reading. The heartbreaking story of brothers who opposed one another and competed from the beginning, who only made peace after a lifetime of heartache and pain.

Before we were born, we were poised to be enemies;
We were taught to hate.
Before we were born we fought and tussled;
We were expected to compete.
Before we were born there was already bad blood between us
We were initiated into heirarchy.

We come from a long history of war-mongers,
Peace-breakers,
Persecuters and persecuted,
Slaveholders and slaves.
We never expected another way but to rule or be ruled.
We have never known anything different.

This way continued for a long time:
We perpetuated it because we couldn't imagine anything else
Until the Christ came
And blew our minds open with a new gospel.

He gave us a new paradigm for living:
To love our enemies
To bless those who persecute us
To turn our cheeks to violence
To lead by serving
To share from abundant hearts
To make love the greatest virtue
To forgive and be forgiven
To care for the weakest among us
To regard God, not as enemy, but as friend.

It has taken many centuries for these ideas to sink into our consciousness
But, hallelujah! We are progressing
Christ has reinvented living,
The old ways are passing away.
And may the power of the new idea, the good news, the new paradigm of Christ
Give us hope for the future.

Amen


 

Litany for Self-Love

This litany was originally written to accompany a sermon I preached at Peace of Christ church. You can find the sermon here. The sermon uses this week's Lectionary reading from Romans 7.
 

Loving Creator, we confess that, in general, we are bad at loving ourselves.
Help us, oh God.
Many of us have been criticized mercilessly and have simply accepted the habit of it.
Help us, oh God.

Help us to regard ourselves with the same kindness and patience
With which you regard us.
Help us to lay down our judgements of ourselves and others
And to leave the judging to you.
Help us to see ourselves and everyone around us in the light of love,
Which is your own light.
Help us to feed, nourish, care for, and live into our True Self,
Which is your love in us.

We acknowledge that we live among tensions and paradoxes that are not always easy to parse out:
    Good and evil
    Light and darkness
    Flesh and spirit
We acknowledge that our enemies are mostly unseen,
And sometimes hidden within ourselves.
We acknowledge that we must both accept ourselves as we are
And work toward transformation.
We acknowledge that you have given us authority and power over evil,
And we take hold of them in the name of Christ.

Hallelujah! For you have looked upon us with eyes full of grace
Grace is air we breathe.
Grace is the ocean we swim in.
Grace is our resting place.

Amen.

Litany for Unburdening

This week's Old Testament story is the account of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac. God stops him, and gives him a ram to sacrifice instead. Abraham had already experienced quite a few miracles up until this point, but I still wonder if he was surprised. Did he feel a weight of dread lift from his shoulders? Did he feel unburdened when he realized he no longer had to prove his obedience to God, that God was merciful?

 

Creator and Lover of our Souls, you have done a mighty work:
We are free, Hallelujah!
Sacrifice and burnt offerings you haven’t required of us (1)
We don’t have to save ourselves.
You claimed the burden of proof in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ:
We don’t have anything more to prove!

We were slaves to our material lives
Slaves to our reputations and success
Slaves to our own selfish limitations
Slaves to earning and hoarding
Slaves to fear and retaliation
Slaves to shame and darkness.

And now we are free, Hallelujah! (2)
Free to speak peace into being (3).
Free to bend swords into plowshares (4)
Free to offer mercy and serve grace.
Free to share generously from your abundance.
Free to embrace joy.

The mystery of your plan and the goodness of your heart
Are all that consumes us now.
We walk along, singing
Because you have dealt bountifully with us. (5)

Amen

1) Psalm 40:6
2) Romans 6:17,18
3) Jeremiah 28:9
4) Isaiah 2:4
5) Psalm 13:6

Litany for Hagar

This week's Old Testament Lectionary passage is the story of Hagar, whom Abraham cast out into the desert along with her son. But God sneakily rescued her; even though she was a slave and a woman, the lowliest of the low, God valued her and protected her.

 

Creator, Protector of the Lowly
Defender of the Weak:
You do not despise the needy;
You do not cast out those without status.
Your eye is always on the underdog,
And you care for those on the margins.

You rescued the lowly servant girl Hagar
Who had no power, no authority to choose a life for herself.
She served Abraham to the utmost, even bearing him a child.
Abraham cast her out; but you, God, rescued her.
You gave her water in the desert and preserved her life.
Her child grew into a father of nations. (1)

Your ways are not our ways:
     Social Status
     Breeding or family line
     Material wealth
     Race
     Gender
The world categorizes and assigns value to people according to these things,
But you, God, see beyond, to the inner person.

(All:) Hallelujah!

Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me,
For I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life,
For I am devoted to you;
Save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God. (2)

Amen

(1) Genesis 21:8-21
(2) Psalm 86:1,2

Pentecost 3 (Year A): Litany for Wonders

The Old Testament text for this third week of Pentecost is Genesis 18, the account of messengers coming to Abraham and Sarah and informing them that Sarah will give birth to a child in her old age. When Sarah hears this, she sees the irony and humor of it - Now? After I’m old and gray and spent my youth hoping and praying for a child? Now? I imagine she laughed for joy and irony and disbelief and the ignorance of men. I imagine if she’d been texting her sister in that moment she’d be like IDK IF THESE OLD DUDES KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT WOMEN. WE ARE NOT ETERNALLY FERTILE. LOL!

But the Lord responds: Is anything too wonderful for me?

And so, old Sarah gets knocked up, gives birth, and names her kid “Laughter.” Wonders never cease.


 

Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? (1)
Nothing is too wonderful for you.
You make wonders bloom from your hands,
And from your imagination spring amazing things.

Your wonders will never cease.
Your wonders will never cease.

Old women bear children. (2)
Trees bear fruit out of season.
Rocks give forth springs of water. (3)
Seas part. (4)
Storms are stilled. (5)
Sickness and disease are cured. (6)
Whole nations are brought out of bondage. (7)
Crowds are fed from your hand. (8)
Dry bones are enlivened. (9)
The dead are raised to life. (10)

Your wonders will never cease.
Your wonders will never cease.

We enter your presence with thanksgiving,
And your courts with praise.
We give thanks to you,
We bless your name.
For you are good; your steadfast love endures forever,
and your faithfulness to all generations. (11)

Amen

(1) Genesis 18:14
(2) Genesis 21:2
(3) Numbers 20:11
(4) Exodus 14:21
(5) Matthew 8, Mark 4
(6) Matthew 10:8
(7) Exodus 20
(8) Matthew 14, 15, John 6, Mark 8
(9) Ezekiel 37
(10) John 11, Mark 5, Luke 8, 1 Kings 17, 2 Kings 4, and many more
(11) Psalm 100:4,5

Litany for The Journey

Holy Spirit, Lover of our souls:
You have set us in this world
Each with intention, destiny, and purpose,
And given us opportunities to know you
To connect with you,
And to become our best selves.

You have given us freedom of choice on this journey.
In love you have allowed us to choose
Whether we will listen and pay attention to you;
Whether we will love you.

We choose you, our Friend and Redeemer.
Make our lives a testament to your love.
We don’t want to settle for surface level
Or for a spirituality that never changes us.

Help us to be patient with the process of growth,
     To even enjoy it;
     To be present with the journey of life, spirit, soul
     To dig deep and uncover whatever is hidden
     And bring it to light (Matthew 10:26).
     To encounter our inner darkness without fear
     To look for beauty, and do its work;
We set our intentions toward life and light.

We know that we are our best selves
When we most aware of your grace towards us.
Walk with us on this journey of life
Now and forever.

Amen

Trinity Sunday (Year A): Litany for Holy Trinities

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
The love of Yahweh,
And the communion of the Holy Spirit
Surround us. (1)

On all sides we are surrounded
By a trinity of grace, mercy and love.
Just as Creator, Son, and Spirit
Live in harmony together.
So do Truth, Beauty, and Righteousness
Live in harmony together.

Things we never thought could come together
Have joined in communion.
    Body and Blood have allied with Healing.
    Pain and Brokenness have become Teachers.
    Love and Mercy have fulfilled Justice.
    Servanthood and Kindness have completed Authority.
    Last and First have re-imagined Heirarchy.
    Questions and Freedom have informed Certainty.
    Dirt and Spit have alchemized Life.
    Body and Mind have been enlivened by Spirit.
    Light and Darkness have given shape to Vision.
    Resurrection and Ascension have made way for Presence.
   
Seemingly unrelated, incomplete ideas have been made whole
Holy Trinities abound on this earth, doing good work:
    Bad made good
    Last made first,
    Servant made ruler
    Poor made rich.
    Ordinary made sacred;
In the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Thanks be to God
For the Gift of the Spirit
Which completes and gives life to all things:
Thanks be to God.

Amen

 

(1) 2 Corinthians 13:!3

 

Litany for Spiritual Growth

After writing Litany for Spiritual Power, and Litany for Spiritual Gifts, I felt like they needed at least one more companion prayer, perhaps more. Here's one for ya.

Creator, when we walk with you,
Connected to you,
Plugged in to your love and your life
    Our hearts expand
    Our consciousness expands
    Our perspective expands
    Our reality expands
    Our capacity for love expands.

We admit that we tend to become complacent
And stagnant in our imaginations.
We succumb to inertia
And allow our dreams to wither.

Awaken us now to what is inside us;
Awaken us to the authority you’ve given us;
Awaken us to the potential inside our situations;
Awaken us to the power we can access.

Thank you for the gifts you give us:
The talents, guidance, and purposes,
The grace, freedom, forgiveness, and mercy,
And our unique combinations of strengths and weakness.

Your love is better than life.
Your love is life.
Your highest good is beyond what we can imagine.
Help us to grow into our highest good.

Amen

 

Pentecost: Litany for Spiritual Gifts

Pentecost is the day on the liturgical calendar in which we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, as recorded in Acts 2, and predicted earlier by Jesus. I've drawn from the Lectionary texts for this week, specifically Acts 2 and John 7, for this piece.

Divine Being,
From whom every miracle has come,
Every artifact and invention of creation,
Every living thing from your imagination:

Pour out your Spirit upon us
That we may dream dreams
See visions
And speak with prophetic imagination*. (1)

Pour out your Spirit upon us,
That we may have the gift of faith,
Rivers of living water
Flowing from our hearts. (2)

Pour out your Spirit upon us
That we may bring your ways here to Earth
Live out the compassion of Christ,
And embody your kingdom.

Pour out your Spirit upon us,
That we may speak to all in ways they can understand
Of your lovingkindness --
The great lengths to which you’ve gone to draw us close.

Pour out your Spirit upon us,
That the world in which we live might be changed
That heaven might be found here
And that hope and life may be realized by all people.

Amen

(1) Acts 2:17
(2) John 7:38

*Prophetic Imagination is Brueggemann’s term, not mine.

Ascension Day: Litany for Spiritual Power

This Sunday is Ascension Day, in which we remember the ascension of Christ into heaven. The week's Lectionary reading contained the word "power" 6 times. The word stuck out to me, and I was thinking about how the church calendar and Lectionary selections are leading up to the next BIG DAY, which is Pentecost. And about how mostly we go around completely forgetful that we have any access to spiritual power at all, that we have been shared power to change things, move mountains, bring healing and peace, offer forgiveness. Seems like a first step to tapping into that might be simply acknowledging it. Just speaking the word aloud seems to bring with it a new energy. So I invite you to pray this prayer with me, as we raise your awareness of our inheritance.

Sing praises, all the earth, sing praises!
Clap your hands, dance for joy, all you people! (1)
For the Holy One is ruler over all,
Overseeing with majesty, wisdom and love. (2)

The Christ has risen from the dead.
He has scoured hell and overcome it.
The Christ has appeared in life,
Proving himself and his word
The Resurrection and the Life, the Christ,
Has ascended into heaven and is seated at Yahweh’s right hand.
We, who look to Christ as our example and our teacher,
Wait upon his promise of power.

And indeed it has been given to us:
A spirit of wisdom and revelation as we come to know Christ (3)
That the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened
That we may know the hope to which we are called
And the riches of our glorious inheritance,
The immeasurable greatness of his power. (4)

Christ, Help us to know
Help us to listen and understand;
Give us courage to walk in the fullness
Of the power of Christ in us.

Amen

 

  1. Psalm 47:1

  2. Psalm 93:1

  3. Eph 1:17

  4. Eph 1:18-19




     

Easter 6 (Year A): Litany for Abiding Love

The Lectionary passages for the sixth Sunday of Easter (Year A) include Acts 17, John 14, and Psalm 66. I've been contemplating what it might mean to be powered by love, as if divine love were a battery that fuels us. Or as if, when we take the bread and the cup of Eucharist, we ingest love, it becomes part of us, and fuels our activity in the world. How might we train ourselves to run on love rather than on ego? How can we learn to operate on a new system? What spiritual practices might form that pathway in us?


Eternal Divine Love,
Creator and Parent of all,
Ruler of Heaven and Earth
We are your children, your offspring. (1)

You give to all mortals life and breath
And all things.
You allot the times of our existence
And the boundaries of our places. (2)

We confess our blindness to your presence.
Make us aware of you.
We confess the smallness of our concept of you.
Enlarge our knowing.
We confess our ego-driven tendencies.
Power us instead with Love.

We have searched and groped for you
Though you are not far from each one of us. (3)
We cried aloud to you
And you have heard our prayer. (4)
We bless you,
For you have not rejected us nor removed your steadfast Love from us. (5)

Help us to keep your commandments (6)
And to abide in your Love .(7)

Amen

 

(1) Acts 17:28
(2) Acts 17:25,26
(3) Acts 17:27
(4) Psalm 66:17,19
(5) Psalm 66:20
(6) John 14:15
(7) John 14:21

A Litany for Canada

Brian Doerksen, author of such well-known worship songs as "Come, Now is the Time To Worship" and "Refiner's Fire," among many others, wrote this litany for his home country of Canada. He's kindly allowed me to share it with my readers in this space. I especially appreciate the elements of repentance, reconciliation, and inclusiveness in this prayer.

"Faithful Love – A litany for EMCC’s national 2017 convention"
Written by Brian Doerksen

Lord you have been our shelter for generations.*
Thank you for your faithful love.

Before the mountains were born or the earth was formed, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. *
Thank you for your faithful love.

Lord we thank You for giving us a home in this wide great land we call Canada.
Thank you for your faithful love.

Forgive us for the way the first inhabitants of this land were conquered and pushed aside by force.
Forgive us through your mercy.

Continue to bring reconciliation to every corner of Canada that we may be a nation of integrity and peace.
Thank you for your healing love.

Help us welcome the stranger and refugee and share our home of Canada with them.
Fill us with your welcoming love.

Help us share the gospel of love, mercy, grace and truth with all who live in Canada.
Empower us with your Spirit and fill us with Your faithful love.

Lord we look to you for wisdom.
Thank you for your faithful love.
Lord we look to you for provision.
Thank you for your everlasting arms.
Thank you for your faithful love.
 

Amen

 

*Psalm 90:1,2