Litany for Growing

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At the turn of the year, many of us set aside time to reflect and set intentions for the coming year. How do we want to be? What do we want to carry forward? What do we need to let go of? What changes do we want to see made in the world that we might be part of.

I personally have a going list of hopes, dreams, and intentions. There are things I want to accomplish, changes I want to make, goals I want to meet, and ways I know I need to grow and evolve. My intentions range from the physical (improve fitness level, etc), to career (make my writing practice sustainable!), to spiritual, emotional, and relational; to collective and societal.

So, if you are on that journey of looking forward and speaking and imagining new things into being, I invite you to pray this prayer asking for patience to play the long game.


God, we stretch out our arms,
Reaching toward heaven.
We stretch out our hearts,
Reaching toward the timeless.
We stretch out our vision,
Reaching beyond our horizons.

There’s so much to be done.
So much change to be made.
That sometimes it’s hard to remember
That everything is as it should be:
Collectively, we are growing.
We are evolving.
And despite evidence to the contrary,
Things are progressing.

So we ask for help in being still and present
When the world is hectic;
And we ask for help in taking right action
When we are overwhelmed.
We lay ourselves bare before you
Nothing kept hidden or held back,
Trusting you to meet us in our need
And provide for us in our process.

May all we do,
And all we work toward,
Every imperceptible expansion,
Every slow millimeter of growth,
Make your community more welcoming,
And the world more truly peaceful (1).

.
Amen.

  1. Jeremiah 6:14

Litany for God Our Mother

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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

 

 


 

Litany for Summer

This litany originally appeared on Godspace. It is a responsive prayer; congregational responses are in bold type.

 

God, we thank You for turning the earth toward the Sun .
We thank You for summer.

As the days and the light are long,
So is the Love of God:
   Endless,
   Fruitful,
   Full of possibility,
   Bursting with energy.

As growing things are awake and progressing,
So may we become awake
To Your light and to Your love:
   Making progress,
   Seizing opportunities to grow,
   Readying for harvest

As our plot on the planet faces the sun, our star,
So do we turn ourselves toward the Son
Following the Way of Christ,
Following the Way of Love,
Growing to maturity,
Spreading seeds of Good News to all.

Amen

Litany for the Presence of God

*This litany contains more formal, directly scriptural language; which I think is nice interspersed with less formal contemporary language in the modern worship service. "Sunday Best" language, spoken aloud in community with sincere hearts can feel fresh, and shed new light on Biblical turns of phrase.

 

Oh, the majesty and magnificence of Your presence!
Oh, the beauty of Your sanctuary!

Give to the Lord honor and offerings
For great are You, Lord, and greatly to be praised.
Give to the Lord glory and honor -
The glory and honor due to Your name!

We enter Your gates with thanksgiving, and Your courts with praise.
To be in your presence, Lord, is joy.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
To be in your presence, Lord, is to be free.
You bless Your people with peace.
In Your presence is peace that surpasses our understanding.

We earnestly seek the presence of the Lord all day long.
Joy, freedom, and peace are the hallmarks of our lives.
Daily we carry the presence of the Lord with us,
And this mystery is Christ in us, the hope of glory.

Daily we acknowledge Christ, in all things;
For in Him all things hold together.
Daily we reach out for You, Lord, and find You, for You are not far from us.
In You we live and move and have our being. We are Your children.

Amen

 

Litany for Gratitude

To You, O God, we give thanks.

We give thanks for the morning, when joy comes to us.
We give thanks for the evening, when we meditate on your love.
We give thanks for the in-between, the working hours, the accomplishing hours; when we must practice gratitude amidst distraction and busyness.
We give thanks for the long dark of night, when our souls and bodies assimilate and regenerate.

We give thanks for the people we love effortlessly, but also for the people who chafe and challenge us.
We give thanks for our enemies, who teach us to bless and forgive.
We give thanks for our families, who teach us grace and forbearance.
We give thanks for those whose lives we touch only momentarily - may we be a lasting blessing.

We give thanks for the boisterous, jubilant seasons. 
We give thanks for the subtle, quiet seasons. 
We give thanks for the seasons of difficulty and pain. 
May we emerge from each bearing the image of Christ Jesus.

We give thanks both when we are certain, and when uncertainty plagues us; both in the black and white, and in the gray.

We give thanks to You, acknowledging that every drop and morsel that sustains us comes from Your hand; that our place in the universe exists because You created it; and that Your purposes exceed the bounds of our imagining.