Epiphany Week 3, Year C: Litany for the Party

This week’s Lectionary readings include the account of Christ performing his first recorded miracle: turning water into wine at a wedding. Also known as the time Jesus BROUGHT THE PARTY. There are so many interesting and fun details about the story: the way his mom talks him into it. The way the people react. The way he tries to keep it on the DL. His reluctance (I imagine a twinkle in his eye). The way he nonchalantly instructs them to “draw some out,” no big deal. 

And the most endearing part, to me, is what it says about celebration. That celebration is worth doing. That Jesus is able to look at this world, see it for what it is, accept it, forgive it, and still think it’s worth partying. 

And this is the lesson that Christ is teaching us:
That just when we think the party is over
And all our resources have run out,
There is abundance yet…

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Transfiguration Sunday (Year B): Litany for the Whirlwind

The Lectionary readings for Transfiguration Sunday, Year B converge upon the ascension of Elijah the Prophet in a whirlwind, and the Transfiguration of Christ on the mountain with Elijah and Moses, the “law and the prophets”, present. This litany is inspired by those readings and a prayer for us to experience transfiguration, change toward heaven, in the here and now.
 

God, let your kingdom come on earth.
Let the seed of heaven in our hearts
Grow, spread, and bear fruit.
Whether that manifests as miracles
Or as acts of kindness
Let Heaven and Now converge.

Whether or not we get our own whirlwind
Or chariot of fire;
You are still bearing us onward
Into your glorious reality.

Whether or not our own faces radiate sunshine
Or clouds speak from heaven;
You are claiming us,
Naming us beloved.

You are the source of all light,
The source of all love,
The source of all truth,
The source of all life.

In Christ, you shone as the dawn
As the Morningstar
In Christ, your light culminated
And was complete.

We give ourselves readily
To this ascension and transfiguration,
Which you are working in us,
And fills us with radiance.

Amen


 

Epiphany, Year B (Week 5): Litany for Healing

God, we look to you as Healer.
Heal us, oh God.

We look to the message of Christ for our hope:
The Kingdom, the Way of God is near.
You give power to the faint,
And strengthen the powerless. (1)
You heal the brokenhearted
And bind up their wounds. (2).

From our physical infirmities
Heal us, oh God.
From our spiritual blindness,
Heal us, oh God.
From our emotional woundedness,
Heal us, oh God.
From our weakness and corruption,
Heal us, oh God.
From our mental illnesses,
Heal us, oh God.
From our brokenness and trauma,
Heal us, oh God.
From our carelessness and apathy,
Heal us, oh God.
From our generational burdens,
Heal us, oh God.
From our hatred and violence,
Heal us, oh God.

Those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (3)

We wait for you,
God, our healer.
Amen.

 

  1. Isaiah 40:29

  2. Psalm 147:3

  3. Isaiah 40:31

Ephiphany, Year B (Week4): Litany for Unclean Spirits

This litany is inspired by the account of Christ casting out unclean spirits in the Gospel lectionary passage for the week: Mark 1:21-28.

God we know that you have given us power
And authority
To deal with unclean spirits decisively.
Hallelujah.

We know that you have given us freedom
To be our truest selves,
To face our shadow side,
To live in victory.

Help us to deal with unclean spirits, as we encounter them:
Racism
Prejudice
Patriarchy
Inequality
Hatred
Addiction
Violence.

Whether the unclean spirits reside in others
Or in our own selves,
We become aware,
We exercise power in love.
We commit ourselves to being people who walk in the footsteps of Christ
Who tell the truth,
Who create peace,
Who rout out injustice.

Help us to know Christ so well
And reflect your image so clearly
That the world is different and better
When we have passed through it.
Amen

Epiphany, Year B (Week 3): Litany for New Creation

This litany contains references to selections from the Lectionary texts for January 21, 2018 (Year B).

God, even now, in ways we can hardly comprehend
The old is passing away.
Your voice, the voice of Christ, speaks to us:
“The time is fulfilled
the kingdom of God has come near;
turn from evil, and believe in the good news." (1)

All around the world there is turmoil
There is suffering, hunger, and war.
Here in our midst there is upheaval:
In our government, society, and streets.
But we see the subtle ways in which you work:
New creation steadily appearing.

Help us, oh God, to pay attention
To the nearness of your Kingdom,
To the rhythms of your working,
To the newness of life around us,
To the opportunities in our midst,
To the mystery of Christ within us.

For the present form of this world is passing away. (2)
New Creation has already taken hold
And is working and growing behind the scenes,
Beyond the screen of what our eyes can see.

Trust in God at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before God;
God is a refuge for us.
Power and steadfast love belong to God. (3)

Amen

  1. Mark 1:15

  2. 1Corinthians 7:31

  3. Psalm 62:8,12

Epiphany, Year B (Week 2): Litany for Being Seen

The account of the calling of Nathanael in John 1 (Lectionary for Second Sunday in Epiphany) has fascinated me for many years. I’ve never been able to definitively puzzle it out. But the narrative of it draws me in. I can imagine how Nathanael might have felt, waiting, hoping for something; perhaps all his life. Perhaps events in his life made him cynical. Perhaps he chose to watch from the edges, partially hidden. Perhaps he thought he’d never been seen, and had given up hope of being seen. Perhaps he’d lost so much he thought he’d never be found.  It seems like he and Jesus have a secret exchange here, buried in the dialogue. And whatever it is, it seems to be what he needs, because we can feel Nathanael’s heart open and his guard drop, simply from knowing that Jesus has seen him.  It occurs to me that this is part of what Epiphany means: we get in on the secret that God sees us as intimately as Christ saw Nathanael.
 

God, we are all hoping you’ll come looking for us,
Though our hearts might be hard --
Or maybe we have been running and hiding for a long time...
We want you to see us.

We want the Creator to pay attention to us
We want to be seen.
We want Someone, Something powerful to take an interest in us.
We want to be known.

Our deepest longing,
Our secret hope,
Our shadowy leaning,
Our mundane pain,
Our hidden dream,
Our forgotten spark:
These are things we long for a savior to save
For a flame to kindle.

You saw us all along:
Quietly observing
Keenly attending
Actively loving.

No matter what fig tree we hide beneath (1),
You see us.
No matter what bravado or sentiment we hide behind (2),
You see through.
We can rely on you to know the truth of us.
We can trust your mercy.

And, when we finally become aware of your merciful regard
We have seen the truth of you.
So, with gratitude and awe
We reflect your love.

Amen

1) John 1:48
2) John 1:46

Epiphany, Year B: Litany for the Wise

Epiphany is celebrated on January 6, after the twelve days of the Christmas feast. This litany incorporates references from the Matthew 2 and Isaiah 60 passages in the Lectionary for the feast of the Epiphany. I've also included some additional references.

God, we know that one way wisdom begins
Is in curiosity.
We know that the way to finding
Is by seeking.

Many people throughout history have been renowned for their wisdom
And remembered for their insight;
People who sought and studied
People who waited and looked.

And just as the Magi were guided by the heavens to the infant Christ,
So all who search for Christ will find him. (1)
Just as the ancient prophets and saints sought the wisdom of God
So all who search for wisdom will find her. (2)

Just as Christ has taught us about wisdom:
Ask and it will be given,
Seek and we shall find,
Knock and the door will be opened. (3)

Awaken in our hearts, O God
A desire for wisdom.
Awaken in our hearts, O God
A hunger for consciousness.
Awaken in our hearts, O God
A yearning for your kingdom.

Help us to keep our priorities straight:
To seek first your kingdom,
To trust that you have provided. (4)
And we will say to our people:
“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
Nations shall come to your light,
and rulers to the brightness of your dawn. (5)

Amen
 

1) Matthew 2:1-2
2) Proverbs 1:20-24
3) Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9
4) Matthew 6:33,34
5) Isaiah 60: 1&3

Transfiguration Sunday: Litany for The Morning Star

Transfiguration Sunday marks the end of the season of Epiphany. The season of Lent follows. Transfiguration Sunday celebrates the day in which Jesus was confirmed by God as divine before the apostles. The Lectionary passages for the day tell the story, as well as its precursor story, that of the transfiguration of Moses in the book of Exodus. In an unexpected appearance, Moses himself is also witness to Jesus' transfiguration as described in Matthew 17.


Jesus, we have seen your majesty (1)
And we are captivated
By the light of your face, shining like the sun
And your clothes, dazzling white. (2)
You are more important than all who came before or after you:
More than Moses, or Elijah;
More than any prophet, priest, or king;
More than any pastor, politician, or world leader.

In you every message is confirmed (3)
Every message of hope
Every message of peace
Every message of reconciliation
The identity and character of God
Made known in the Son (4):
     Reckless forgiveness
     Radical Love.

We will look to you.
We will live by your light
Until the day dawns
And the Morning Star rises in our hearts. (3)

(1) 2 Pet 1:16
(2) Matt 17:2
(3) 2 Pet 1:19
(4) Matt 17:5
 

Epiphany Seventh Sunday: Litany for Aliens and Evil-Doers

This week's Lectionary passages are PREACHING to me. Unless you read them, particularly the Leviticus combined with the Matthew 5, you probably won't connect with this litany. Those church folks who scheduled the readings really were thoughtful and thorough in their choices, because these four passages are like bells that chime in harmony.

 

God, we hear you asking us
To extend the bounds of our love,
To consider new groups of people worthy of our regard.
To cast a bigger net.

We are supposed to love widely
To forgive deeply
To share sacrificially
To give generously
Even to those we consider undeserving
Even to those we consider dangerous.

Strengthen us, Oh God,
to follow your ways:
Because loving our enemies is not for the faint of heart (Matt 5:44);
Giving to the poor decreases our profit margins (Lev 19:10);
Welcoming the alien makes for awkward cultural situations;
Caring for the differently-abled is inconvenient (Lev 19:14);
Not resisting evil-doers interrupts our self-defense mechanisms (Matt 5:39);
And grudges are our favorite burdens to bear (Lev 19:18).

We would often rather be normal, nice, politically-correct people.
And normal people don’t do the things you recommend.
But you aren’t asking us to be normal.
You’re asking us to be Kingdom-people.
You’re asking us to live by the law of love.
You’re asking us to lay down our lives

Strengthen us, Oh God, to follow your ways,
And to love neighbors, aliens, and evil-doers as ourselves (Lev 19:18).

Amen

Epiphany Sixth Sunday: Litany for Thoughts

In this section of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, we hear Jesus saying that what happens in our interior lives matters just as much to our wholeness as what we manifest in our behaviors. Our thoughts have weight, and we must be just as ruthless in weeding the bad ones out as we are to keep ourselves from harming others overtly.

 

God,who knows our hearts, minds, and intentions
We know that what happens within us
Is as important as what manifests outside us.
Our thoughts matter,
Our words matter,
Our actions matter.

Transform our minds
That we might not sin against you
In thought, word or deed,
In action done, or left undone.

Forgive us for the violence inside of us.
Make us deeply peaceful,
    Deeply loving
    Deeply reconciling
    Deeply self-aware
    Deeply humble.

Help us to re-frame our problems in actionable terms.
Help us to re-train our brains to joyous thinking.
Help us to remind ourselves constantly
that you are always present with us,
And to live wholesome and positive lives
Both within our minds and outside of them.

Conform our minds to love
And our intentions to peace,
So that what reverberates out to the world from us
Is only life and light.

Amen

Epiphany Fifth Sunday: Litany for What To Do

This litany is taken directly from Isaiah 58, Psalm 112, and from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount iMatthew 5. Each of those is part of the Lectionary selection for the Fifth Sunday of Epiphany.

Merciful God,
We receive your instructions about what pleases you:
To loose the bonds of injustice,
To free the oppressed,
To share bread with the hungry,
To provide shelter for the homeless poor,
To cover the naked,
To be present to our kin. (1)

You have said: “If you offer your food to the hungry
And satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
Then your light shall rise in the darkness
And your gloom be like the noonday.” (2)

You have said: “It is well with those who deal generously,
Who conduct their affairs with justice.
They are not afraid of evil tidings;
Their hearts are steady;
They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor;
In the end they will look in triumph on their foes.” (3)

We acknowledge that what is wisdom to you seems like foolishness to the world;
    That the commands and example of Jesus seem ridiculous, and risky;
    That if our goal is to save our own lives, we will lose them;
    That, in your kingdom, giving is better than getting. (4)

Lord, give us strength.
We are the salt of the earth.
Lord, give us wisdom.
We are the light of the world.
Let our light shine brightly,
So all may see the goodness of God. (5)

Amen

1) Isaiah 58:6,7
2) Isaiah 58:10
3) Psalm 112:5-9
4) This theme appears multiple times in the New Testament. My favorite is Luke 6:38. Also, Acts 20:35
5) Matt 5:13-16

Epiphany, Fourth Sunday: Litany for How to Live

This week’s Lectionary passages are heavy hitters. Micah 6 and The Beatitudes in particular.

 

Jesus, we hear your voice and receive the intention of your heart when you said
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of justice,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you
For great is your reward in heaven. (1)
 
(pause)

When you uttered those words, you upended the paradigm of the world.
Help us to understand what it all means:
What once looked like power to us
Now appears weak.
What once looked like wisdom
Now appears foolish. (2)
What once took last place in our priorities,
Now appears first.

What does the Lord require of us?
     To do justice,
     To love mercy,
     To walk humbly with God. (3)
Who may dwell with God?
     Those who walk blamelessly.
     Those who do what is right,
     Those who speak truth. (4)

We want our eyes opened, our spirits awakened
To the beauty of the Kingdom of God here now.
Teach us how to live well upon the earth;
Humble, gentle, and pure of heart.

Amen

(1) Matthew 5
(2) 1 Cor 1:27
(3) Micah 6:8
(4) Psalm 15:1,2

Epiphany, Third Sunday: Litany for Following


This week’s litany follows along with the Gospel Lectionary reading Mark 4:12-23, in which Jesus speaks the iconic words, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”
 

Jesus, you have called us.
“Follow me,” you said…
“Repent, for heaven is near.”
We want to follow you.

Culture is also calling us.
The world wants it way with us,
Offering us success, power, revenge, comfort, prestige,
Usually at someone else’s expense.
We’ll leave it all behind
And fish for people instead.

For all the ways we are complicit in the world’s schemes,
Forgive us, Lord.
For all the ways we choose false peace,
Forgive us, Lord.
For all the ways we make ourselves blind,
Forgive us, Lord.

We want to follow you with everything we are
With everything we have:
Every footstep,
Every quiet breath,
Every act of peaceful resistance,
Every careful word,
Every healing touch,
Every helpful offering.
.
Strengthen us now, Lord Jesus, to do as you do:
To proclaim good news to the poor,
To heal every sickness and cure every disease, (Matt 4:23)
To set captives free (Isaiah 61:1).

Amen
 

Epiphany, Second Sunday: Litany for God-Revealer

In Eugene Peterson’s translation of John 1:29-42, which is this week’s Lectionary text from the Gospels, he refers to Jesus as “God-Revealer.” That text is the starting point for this week’s litany for the Second Sunday of Epiphany. The liturgical season of Epiphany began on January 6. A litany for the first Sunday of Epiphany can be found here.

 

Oh God, who has sent Christ and revealed him to us
The Son;
Christ, who is the true nature of God
Human and Divine;
And Spirit, whom Christ left with us,
The essence and energy of God:

May your character be daily revealed in us
As we follow the Way of Christ.

May we be perfected in sacrifice,
Purified in service,
Re-formed by Love
Expanded in kindness
Filled with every spiritual gift
Renewed in mind and heart,
And transformed to goodness
by nearness to Living God.

May our lives always point the way to you:
Look the Lamb of God (John 1:29)
Who takes away the sin of the world!
We have found the Messiah! (John 1:41).

Amen

Epiphany, First Sunday: Litany for Life-Light

The first Sunday of Epiphany is traditionally designated as a celebration of the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist. John plays a supporting role in the narrative of the Gospel Lectionary texts for the next few Sundays, of which Matthew 3:13-17 is the first for Year A. John 1:1-14 was touched upon in one of the Christmas Day readings, and I have included elements from it also. In Eugene Peterson’s translation of John 1, he refers to Christ as “the Life-Light," which I like and have included as well.

God, you have sent your Son
Immanuel, God-With-Us,
Word Made Flesh,
Life-Light.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
The darkness couldn’t put it out (1).

Your servants go before him
Preparing the way for the Lord.
As Christ was baptized,
Raised up from the water,
The heavens opened;
The spirit descended like a dove.
A voice spoke from heaven:
This is God’s Son, the Beloved. (2)

We follow him in baptism
Of water and of spirit:
Dead, buried,
And raised to new life.

Christ, the Life-Light
Has made us alive.

Amen

 

  1. A direct quote from John 1, MSG

  2. Matthew 3:16

Epiphany, Year A: Litany for Good News to All

Epiphany is the day in the Liturgical calendar when we celebrate and acknowledge that even pagan wizards who probably never heard of Yahweh came to pay homage to the Son of God. Even the stars in the sky spoke his name. Even ancient traditions that sprang from entirely other shoots could see that the world had somehow changed, could perceive that a shift had occurred, that the arc of history had changed directions.

The gospel text for Epiphany, Year A is Matthew 2:1-12.

The heavens declare
The glory of God.
Arise, shine,
For your light has come. (Isaiah 60:1)

Even the stars
Speak the name of Jesus.
Even the rocks
Proclaim his works. (Psalm 19:1-4)

The people of earth
Gather together,
Sons and daughters
From far away places.
They bring gifts of abundance and wealth
To honor you. (Isaiah 60:4)
You defend the cause of the needy,
And redeem their lives from oppression and violence. (Psalm 72:13,14)

To wise men from the East
Good news has come.
To Jews and Gentiles
Good news has come.
To the poor and oppressed
Good news has come.
To sons and daughters alike
Good news has come.
To all creation
Good news has come.

Amen

Litany for Epiphany

 

Epiphany is the day in the liturgical calendar that the church traditionally celebrates the coming of the Three Kings, the "Wise Men" who paid homage and gave costly gifts to the Christ Child. We also celebrate the manifestation, or revelation, of Christ to non-Jewish people.


Oh God, as the kings of old traveled great distances and expended great effort to acknowledge the coming of Christ the King, so we acknowledge this great epiphany:

Christ has come. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

All of our hopes are bound up in the person of Jesus Christ. We could not hope for better news than His gospel.

To Christ we offer our most profound gifts:
talent
effort
time
attention;
In certainty that what we offer will be put to good use, woven into the fabric of Christ’s completed work.

And this is the work Christ has done and is doing: awakening in us and in the earth the Kingdom of God -- that good kingdom, that Promised Land, present and unseen, now and not yet, revealed and mysterious.

May our gifts be as pleasing to you as gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And may we continually renew our understanding and awe of the coming and work of Christ Jesus.

Amen