Proper 24 (Year C): Litany for Wrestling

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Hello! Sorry the litany is a bit late this week - my kids had fall break and the week has been unusual.

This week's Lectionary has such a hopeful message about wrestling with hard emotions, conflicts, trauma, questions, and problems, but staying with it. When we stay committed to uncovering the shadow, digging out what lies hidden beneath the external behavior or presentation, and to persistence in prayer and practice, God notices! We may come out with a limp like Jacob, but we are our true selves!

Life is hard. Emotional and spiritual work is hard. Justice work is hard. We won't get off this earth scot-free and unscathed. We will limp, somehow. But every lesson, every experience, every heaving, breathless effort is part of our learning and our growth. We can wrestle hopefully and gratefully, with acceptance and faith.


God, there is so much to work through
And so many problems to solve:
Troubles that come to us from within ourselves
And from without…

Proper 22 (Year C): Litany for Hanging On

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This week’s Lectionary is heavy on the lament, both from the two Lamentations passages, the Habakkuk, and the Psalm. Habakkuk reminds us that “there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. And the Psalmist says “Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices.”

This is a hard word, especially for those who are in the trenches, working for justice, working toward the Kindom-coming, working to serve the poor, pushing against inequity… to be still and wait. To not fret about “evil-doers.” To not allow our anger to consume us when the waiting for justice seems way too long. So I’ve written this litany in hopes that it will help us hang on, keep working for good, rest in the Love. 


God, all day long we see wrong-doing
Our eyes behold trouble.  
Destruction and violence are before us;
strife and contention are all around

Proper 16 (Year C): Litany for Societal Injustice

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I don’t always take the Bible literally. But when I do, it’s Isaiah 58.

This passage of scripture, when set alongside the life and priorities demonstrated by Christ in the gospels, shows us a detailed picture of a just and thriving society. A society in which corporate avarice and greed, and the priorities of for-profit special interest groups are not the driving force of government or political policy. Instead mercy is. Instead love is. Care for the poor and the removal of unjust “yokes” (think, unjustly imprisoning black and brown folks for minor crimes. Think, lack of access to decent food and education for children. Think, losing your entire life savings because you got sick.) are the hallmarks of this society.

I think there are a lot of ways we can start moving toward this God-imagined ideal. We mostly haven’t tried any of them. If I have ever advocated for “Biblical values” (which I don’t usually because I mostly think that term is misused), these are them. Read em for yourself. I didn’t come up with this. This isn’t “liberal” or “conservative.” This is old-testament Judeo-Christian Orthodoxy validated by the new-testament Christ-man. We’ve just been ignoring it all this time.

Here’s a place to start praying:

Oh God, we live in a society in deep need of reform,
And days of violence and avarice.

Rescue us, O God, from becoming the hand of the wicked,
From being the unjust and cruel (Psalm 71:4).
Rescue us, O God, from our own selfishness,
From our own ego obsessions…





Proper 15 (Year C): Litany for Fire

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A note to Patrons: I have made this litany widely available to anyone who wishes to read or use it. I occasionally do this when a litany is particularly resonant for a moment in time. Thank you for your support, which allows me to continue this output and contribution to the prayers of the people.

“Is not my word like a fire, says the LORD, like a hammer that breaks rock in pieces?”

I believe that the message of this week’s Lectionary, of the fire and hammer of God, which are mercy and restorative justice, is THE message our society needs in this moment. We are protecting the gun lobby over vulnerable school children. We are protecting agribusiness over the well-being of the planet and over and above human thriving.* We are protecting corporate profits and political interests to the detriment of the poor and powerless. We are protecting white supremacy and status over our God-given duty to regard every human life, every human black and brown body, as beloved and sacred. This is the story of our country right now. This is the legacy we are living. 

And the cure, the antidote, is the mercy and restorative justice of God. The Fire and the Hammer. The holy fire that Christ says he “came to bring ... to the earth,” and he says, “how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49). 

This is a prayer of confession and contrition. This is where we begin. Opening our eyes to our communal complicity, and changing our minds (repenting) about how we will continue on. This is heart-centered work. This in inconvenient work. This is uncomfortable work. Standing in the midst of holy fire is bound to be difficult. 



God, as a society we have turned blind eyes 
And deaf ears to the poor.
We can hear the cries of the needy,
See the struggle of the lowly and destitute.
How the weak and the orphan long for justice!
How the defenseless are in need of rescue (1)!


We confess that we have centered our policies
On the success of profit-margins.
We confess that we have protected the interests of corporations and the wealthy
Over the well-being of Earth’s most vulnerable inhabitants.**
We confess that we have judged unjustly
And show partiality to the wicked (2).
We confess that much of our economy and material wealth
Is due to exploitation of human and natural resources.

We have not done our God-given duty of creation stewardship.
We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.
We have not upheld righteous standards.
We have not pursued justice and mercy for all. 

Forgive us, oh God, and lead us on the path of peace.
Restore us to your justice.
Bring us into the community of heaven.
Be merciful to us, oh God. 

For your word is like a fire,
Like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces (3). 
Break our hardened hearts;
Burn down our wicked ways.

Let the fire that Christ brings kindle in our hearts (4),
Igniting flames of justice and peace-making,
Of shifting old, unhelpful paradigms,
Of right-action and reform. 

Let the ethics and policies of heaven come to earth. 
Be merciful to us, oh God. Amen



*watch the documentary “Cowspiracy” for more info on this topic

**inhabitants, both human, animal, and plant-life

  1. Psalm 82:3,4

  2. Psalm 82:2

  3. Jeremiah 23:29

  4. Luke 12:49



Proper 12 (Year C): Litany for Prayerful Living

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This week I’m working on a sermon on the gospel Lectionary of Luke 11:1-13, Luke’s account of the Lord’s Prayer and Christ’s comments on prayer in general. My mind is going to the truth I learn over and over again: that prayer is formational, and not just intercessory. These days, the best definition of prayer I can come up with is this: living attentively to God. And this both forms us in our character and soul and gives us rapport with God so that we may ask for what we want and need. When the disciples ask him to teach them how to pray, he teaches them how to live. 


Oh God, teach us how to live attentively to you.
Teach us how to pray (1).
For by our attention to you,
We learn how to be in the world. 

Litany for Liberation

This week we celebrate Juneteenth, or Freedom Day. On June 19th 1865 the last remaining slaves were freed after the end of the Civil War. It’s a day in which we remember the suffering of enslaved Black people in this country, celebrate their emancipation, and also see afresh how far freedom has yet to go here. Police and vigilante brutality, the Prison-Industrial Complex, income and wealth inequality, maternal health outcomes for Black women - just a few of the markers by which we know that Shalom has not yet arrived in full. So we keep working.

Those slaves, and those unjustly imprisoned today were and are in overt bondage. But the powers that cause those bondages are subtler. And the ways those same forces have a stranglehold on society are subtler, and affect us all. We aren’t free until we’re all free.

This week’s Gospel selection is that of the Gerasene Demoniac, whom Jesus frees from a legion of demons who elect to go into a pack of pigs rather than into the void. As a result, the community loses a profitable asset and food source and are upset. Instead of celebrating the freedom of their brother, they are grumbling about the loss of their bottom line. Jesus offers them a new paradigm, a new value system in which Shalom might thrive, but they’re too affronted to see it. So they ask Jesus to go away; they don’t want his brand of freedom.

It strikes me how similar we are in U.S. society: unwilling to give up profit, comfort, security, predictability, etc. in order to reach a new level of liberation and Shalom for all. Willing to let a brother wither away in the tombs. Go away Jesus, we’d rather keep our addiction to fossil fuels, our cheap labor, and our corporate profits, than make sure the marginalized are cared for and the poor are fed and the prisoners are freed. We are the Gerasenes who send Jesus packing. Kyrie Eleison.

So that’s where I’m coming from with this litany. Thinking about the forces that subtly bind us, keeping us from God’s peace.


God, we realize we are bound in so many ways,
By powers and forces we can’t always see or touch,
But which pressure and confuse us anyway.
This world is full of prisons of humanity’s own making.

Christ, in his love, comes along willing to free us,
But we aren’t always willing to be freed. ..


Litany for Religious Bigotry

Latest death toll from the Sri Lankan terrorist attacks is at 290, with nearly 500 injured. Many of those victims were attacked while attending Easter Services. And Last month on March 15, 50 people were shot and killed by a white supremacist while praying in their Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Closer to home here in the US, just a few weeks ago three Black churches in Louisiana were burned down by a white terrorist. And last year in Pittsburgh 11 people were murdered while praying in a gathering at Tree of Life Synagogue. I’m sure there have been other, less publicized incidents of religious violence and bigotry as well that I am unaware of.

We pray for this violence to end. We pray for the root causes of religious and racial bigotry to end. We pray for terrorism and the hate that fuels it to end. I have written many litanies about terrorism and war, and the fallout and grief that follow them. But today I’m offering this prayer and reflection, in hopes that they may find their way out into the world, to soften hearts, to open ears and minds, and to bring us all closer in to Love’s consciousness.

Love has no bounds. Love sees race and religion, admires their precious beauty and diversity, and flows on regardless. Love encounters each human being with an open heart. Love accepts and embraces all.


God, our hearts break for those killed in the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Louisiana, and Pittsburgh*
The world reels from this violence.
Love has no room for violence and killing.
In fact, Love repudiates violence.

As Christ on the cross has shamed and rebuked death and violence,
So we rebuke these violent attacks,
Instead proclaiming a gospel of peace
And an ethic of reconciling Love.

We pray for the families of the deceased,
That their hearts may draw ever closer to Love.
We pray for the spiritual communities dealing with the aftermath,
That they may be good homes for healing.
And we pray and stand in word and action against religious bigotry,
Offering up Love’s redeeming alternative.

Let us each, in our hearts, cultivate peace,
Each day as we practice prayer,
Engage in service,
Do justice and mercy,
And heed the voices of the suffering oppressed.
Oh God, help us to be Love.

In Love there is no Other.
There is only One.

Amen

*Add other locations of violence as you are aware of them, or God forbid, as they occur.


Lent 4 (Year C): Litany for Wandering

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Hey friends!
Before I get into the litany for this week, I want to say thank you thank you thank you for being on this journey with me. March has been the biggest month ever for me in terms of new patrons, and I am so stinking grateful. Welcome to new friends in this space! May it be a blessing to you! May it throw you a life-raft on a sinking day! May it jolt you with encouragement in a distressing moment! May it offer you sustenance when you're empty! Amen, Amen. Also, thanks for your patience while I was on vacation last week. After a rough month, I needed the break to stoke my curiosity and creativity, and hallelujah the LORD provides.

Ok, this week's Lectionary is juicy! The prodigal son. Psalm 32. The beautiful "new creation" language in 2 Corinthians 5. Week 1 we explored Weakness, week 2 Loneliness, week 3 Longing, and now Wandering. (preview: next week we're pondering "Wilderness.) So basically the hard parts of the life of faith. Which is what Lent is for - uncovering our blindness, exposing our need and vulnerability, urging us toward repentance. It's not supposed to be fun, but it is necessary for our growth.


God, like the prodigal son we have wandered far
From Love’s Center (1).
We are prodigal children,
All of us…

Also, if you’re unsure how to properly attribute a litany when you’re using it congregationally, please check out this post. And if you haven’t already snagged a copy for yourself, a minister, or a friend, you can purchase my book here. 

May you find more joy, peace, and love during your Lenten journey.
Fran


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 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 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 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 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 What Ails Us

This litany follows along with the week's Lectionary passages from Mark 4, Psalms 30 & 130, and Lamentations 3.

God, thank you for showing us over and over, in myriad ways,
That you care for us.

Even as Christ walked the earth in human form,
He healed ailments (1),
Brought life where death seemed imminent (2),
Cured diseases,
Welcomed little children,
Offered food for body and soul.

We are afflicted by so many sorrows and discomforts,
But you know them all.
We are brought low by various circumstances and particulars,
But you care about them all.

We suffer most when we distance ourselves from you.
We suffer most when we forget you.
Out of the depths we cry to you, God. (3)
Nothing about us goes unnoticed by you.

The steadfast love of God never ceases,
Your mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness. (4)

You have taken off our sackcloth and clothed us with joy;
You have turned our mourning into dancing,
So that our souls may praise you and not be silent.
O LORD our God, we will give thanks to you forever. (5)

Amen

 

  1. Mark 5:29,30

  2. Mark 5:41

  3. Psalm 130:1

  4. Lamentations 3:22,23

  5. Psalm 30:11,12

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

 

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

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

Lent 3 (Year B): Litany for Anger

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This week in the Lectionary, we read the account of Jesus clearing the temple of corruption in John 2.  We get the idea that the sellers and moneychangers who had set up shop there are perhaps doing some corruption, and Jesus is mad about it. Using religion for economic gain, perhaps? Exploiting the poor in the name of religion? Wielding economic power unjustly? Maybe confusing the economic interests of a wealthy few with the good of all? Or maybe confusing their "rights" with their responsibility to care for the poor and dependent?

Whatever it was, Jesus wasn't having it. He got angry and caused a ruckus. He turned tables and dumped moneyboxes, and had himself a good cathartic outburst. I wonder how long he'd held it in before he finally let it boil over?

And this scripture is timely. I think a lot of us are angry. Some of us, because we feel threatened and defensive in light of the justice movements happening in our culture. Some of us, because we've been victimized and justice still hasn't come. We need the contemplative mind, the self-reflective mind, the non-reactive mind, to help us through angry times
.


God, we are angry:
Angry at injustice,
Angry at violence,
Angry at empire.

Some of us are angry and acting out
Some of us are asleep to our anger
Some of us are stuck in anger.
Some of us have buried our anger.
Some of us are angry because we feel threatened.
Some of us are angry because we feel victimized.

We wait for the day when we are at peace
When mercy reigns
When all hearts are filled with love
When we don’t need anger anymore.

Until that day, help us oh God, to handle our anger with care;
To not be consumed by it
To funnel it into justice and mercy,
To temper it with strong love,
To be angry without sin,
To do justly without vengeance.

Let the words of our mouths
And the meditation of our hearts
Be acceptable to you, O LORD,
Our rock and our redeemer. (1)

Make of us,
By prayer, fasting, and charity,
By spiritual practice and discipline,
A people filled with love.

Amen

1) Psalm 19:4