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

Lent 2 (Year B): Litany for Memento Mori

A few months ago I purchased an ornamental skull and hung it on a wall. It’s gilt, and made to look like the skull of some kind of bull. I didn’t really know why I did this, except that there was something about the skull that was compelling to me; something edgy but true. In other words I didn’t do this strictly for decorative reasons. I hung it in the bathroom, which freaked the children out a little, but now everyone sees the skull whenever they do the business that living people do.

Weeks later I learned, quite by accident (from Sister Theresa Aletheia on twitter), about the ancient tradition of Memento Mori (1), Latin for “remember death.” It’s the practice of intentionally remembering that death is unpredictable and imminent, to remind us to live well, do what matters, not waste time on vanities. Many people practice Memento Mori by keeping a skull in view, so that they are reminded to live well whenever they see it. I had inadvertently stumbled into my own Memento Mori practice.

So this is what I thought of when I read this week’s Lectionary reading from Mark 8. Jesus informs his followers that he will have to endure suffering, rejection, and death; and then after that he’ll rise again. Some of the apostles, particularly Peter, just can’t deal with this idea. I can just hear him: "What’s this about death? Death has no part of this equation we are working on here! Death is far away, an abstract idea! We don’t have to think about that now! How humiliating that you would even think of letting death take you, Jesus!" And Jesus rebukes Peter, telling him that in his utter denial of death having any part in the narrative, he is “setting [his] mind not on divine things but on human things” (2).

In the season of Lent we are invited to remember our mortality, and our immortality. We are given permission to contemplate what is humanly (but not divinely) considered morbid. We begin by admonishing one another: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” And we end by celebrating the life that comes after the dust, after the death.



God, we know from the narratives and themes within scripture
That the road to life is fraught with death
That the road to safety is fraught with peril
That the road to light is fraught with darkness.

We know from the narratives and themes within nature
That to get to spring we pass through winter.
That to get fertile soil, there must be compost and decay.
That to get to bloom we pass through buried seed.

We know from the narratives and themes within our own lives
That mistakes and failures teach us
That wisdom comes from experience, and often from hardship and loss
That growing up means learning hard lessons.

Death follows us everywhere we go in this life.
Nothing living is immune.

As Christ went down to death for three days
So we must follow:
Down, past death
    Death to self (3)
    Death to assumption
    Death to expectation
    Death to control
We are brought low by this humility.

And in turn, out past death we find a mystery:
What we thought was lost is found (4).
Death has hatched something altogether new:
Glorious life!

So, we accept our mission:
To live well,
To face death,
And learn the lesson of resurrection.

Amen

  1. More info about Memento Mori

  2. Mark 8:33

  3. Mark 8:34

  4. Mark 8:35


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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

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

Litany for Waking Up

I have heard this story so many times: this narrative of people waking up to injustice or abuse in institutions, then trying so hard to help the institution wake up, then discovering that there’s no forcing change and that trying so hard is burning their hearts down, then waking up to the reality that leaving is the only heartbreaking option. I don’t know if it’s actually getting more common, or if I’m just paying better attention to it, having lived it a time or two.

I have heard this story in marriages. In churches. In businesses. In nations and governments. Over and over again. It’s a dark, painful story that calls to mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:14 (and Luke 9:5) to “leave...and shake the dust off your feet when you leave…”*

I don’t think Jesus says that glibly. He knows that leaving is a painful decision; he also knows that trying to force anyone to listen or change is a futile effort, and graciously give his disciples permission to move onto different, more open and receptive spaces. And that’s another thing I see happening. I see new spaces being created. I see a new reformation happening. I see new ways emerging. I see hope and freedom sprouting up. I see a winnowing.

But waking up is still hard. There’s hope and life in it, but also discomfort, grief, and sometimes confusion. It takes great faith to throw our precious grain up in the air, and trust that what falls back down, after the wind has carried the chaff away, will be enough.**




God, you are the one who wakes us up
When we are ready.
You wake us up to injustice.
You wake us up to love.
You wake us up to injury.
You wake us up to hope.

Sometimes we wake up and realize
That our institutions need change;
That our theology needs change;
That our habits need change;
That our politics need change;
That our hearts need change.

Sometimes we must suffer the scathing heartache
Of leaving behind ideas or institutions
That don’t work anymore, now that we’re awake.
Sometimes our waking requires parting.
Sometimes we can’t support.
Sometimes we are no longer supported.

It can feel like homelessness,
Like up-ending,
Like disowning,
Like failure,
Like giving up.
We wish it weren’t so.

We can only allow ourselves to change at your prompting;
We can’t force others to understand.

Let those of us who are waking, painstakingly and in various ways,
Have no judgement toward those who aren’t yet ready to arise.
Let no arrogance exist among us,
But only patience and compassion.
Let those of us who can stay and enact change,
Be strengthened and encouraged.
Let those of us who must leave,
Leave wisely and lovingly.
 

Amen

* I appreciate Sarah Bessey's writing on the topic of leaving, and also on staying.
**Matthew 3:12

Litany for Dark Days

The prophet Amos says the  “Day of the Lord is darkness, not light, and gloom with no brightness in it.” This week's Lectionary reading includes that passage from Amos 5, as well as others referenced in this prayer.



God, we are weary, weary.
The days are dark.
All day long we contend with evildoers.
We wake to discover more death.

We know that when the days seem dark
We must persevere;
That discipleship is costly,
And the risks of faith are great.

We may be outcast.*
We may be silenced.
We may be slandered.
We may be killed unmercifully. *
But we know that, despite the shame and chaos of the hour,
You are still our help and deliverer (1).

Help us, as we go along, to keep our lamps filled and trimmed (2)
That we may wait with hope
In a circle of light -
Awake and ready for action (3).
We are poor and needy,
Yet still in your care (1).

These are days of darkness and change,
The Day of the Lord, unfolding; (4)
So. Let justice roll down like waters,
And righteousness like an everflowing stream (5).

Amen


1)Psalm 70:5
2)Matthew 25:4-7
3)Matthew 25:13
4)Amos 5:20
5)Amos 5:24

*as the pastor and prophet Jonathan Martin was last week cast out of Liberty University for speaking against the actions of its administration and calling for a prayer vigil
*as were the 26 people (plus 20 more injured) mowed down with an assault rifle as they gathered for worship this past Sunday. And the 58 (plus 489 wounded) the month prior in Las Vegas.

Litany for Post-Disaster Trauma

In the wake of Irma, Harvey, and the devastating wildfires in the west; and in commemoration of the disaster of 9/11/01, I offer this litany.

God, we are thankful
For those who have survived,
For those who have helped and responded,
For what spaces are left to rebuild in,
For the people who embody love,
For experiences that teach us what matters.

We acknowledge that those beset by disaster have endured great trauma:
The losses and mess,
The danger and fright,
The distress to body and soul.
These are deep wounds, real wounds
That take time to recover from.

You weep, oh God, with those who weep.
You mourn with those who mourn.

Heal your people, oh God.
Rescue them from their distress,
Enfold them in your kindness,
And surround them in your care.

Make of us a strong and resilient people:
A people prone to compassion,
A people prone to good works,
A people prone to patience,
A people prone to listening,
A people healed and whole.

Let the work of rebuilding --
Lives, homes, livelihoods, communities --
Be the work of new life and imagination;
The work of Heaven-on-Earth

Amen

 

Litany for Knowing God, Even in Suffering

Here is this week's Lectionary-based litany, containing elements from Psalm 23, John 10, and 1 Peter 2. I threw in the Hosea cause I felt like it worked.

 

God, you are the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (1)
We want to become more aware of you (2)

We hold as our example the Christ, who suffered
But did not threaten;
The Christ, who endured abuse,
But did not return abuse; (3)
The Christ, who bore pain -
By his wounds we are healed!... (4)

Because Christ revealed the heart of God.
You desire mercy not sacrifice (5).
Because Christ has shamed the principalities and powers.
You desire the knowledge of God, not offerings (5).
Because Christ has torn the veil and made way to the Holy of Holies (6)
You desire rich relationship with us, your creations.

Come, let us press on to know the Lord
His appearing is as sure as the dawn (7).
We hear your voice -
You call to us and lead us out (8).
Wherever we go, you are with us,
Comforting, loving, restoring, guiding (9).

Be near to us, Lord, in whatever darkness or suffering we must encounter in this life,
Help us to see every pain redeemed in the light of Christ’s love.

Amen
 

 

(1)1 Pet 2:25
(2) 1Pet 2:19
(3) 1 Pet 2:23
(4) 1 Pet 2:24
(5) Hosea 6:6
(6) Matthew 27:51
(7) Hosea 6:3
(8) John 10:3
(9) Psalm 23:4


 

 

Litany for Simeons & Annas

The gospel lectionary passage for the day commemorating the Presentation of the Lord on Feb 2 is about Simeon and Anna the Prophet, From Luke 2. Jesus' parents presented him at the temple in Jerusalem, and Simeon and Anna, who had waited their whole lives to see the Messiah. This one may be more slam poem than litany, or equally. You can tell me.

God, in this time we are watching and waiting,
Fasting and praying,
Planning and scheming,
Hoping and dreaming,

For a new thing, a new day,
A breakthrough:
    Kingdom coming,
    Heaven opening,
    Son of God descending,
    The world awakening.

Looking around we see war and destruction
Strife and obstruction
Poverty and reduction
Tyranny and corruption.

And it’s taking all our strength and all our courage
To see beyond the present
To see past our sorrow
To see a future and a hope for tomorrow.

But we want to be
Faithful like Simeon
Devout and righteous;
And steadfast like Anna,
Staying engaged,
Prayerful and joyous.

Because we have a promise.
We have a vision.
Our eyes will see the glory,
Consolation and redemption.
And even if it takes
A lifetime or a day
In hopeful expectation
We work and we wait.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Come, Lord Jesus.
May the Lord, when he comes, find us watching and waiting. (1)

Amen
 

  1. I lifted this line from a liturgy from the Church of England
     


 

Litany for the Earth

Here is the text of the first half of Psalm 24 (NLT).

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.
The world and all its people belong to him.
For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas
and built it on the ocean depths.

Who may climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
Only those whose hands and hearts are pure,
who do not worship idols
and never tell lies.

They will receive the Lord’s blessing
and have a right relationship with God their savior.
Such people may seek you
and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.
                 - Psalm 24:1-6


God, we lament the destruction that has been done
That we have permitted to be done
By our silence and inaction
And by our direct action
To the Earth - Your creation. *
Forgive us, Oh God.

Even now we realize that our home
Is suffering
Its inhabitants are suffering
From lack of clean water and air
     Lack of life-giving nourishment
     Lack of safe habitat.

Help us to become aware
     Of the needs of humanity,
     Of the needs of generations to come,
     Of the needs of soil and creatures.
We acknowledge that we have a chance:
     To choose peace over profit
     To choose activity over complacency
     To choose a Greater Good over today’s convenience.

Arouse in us a new compassion,
A new willingness to change,
A new excitement to foster community,
A new faith in the abundance of your Kingdom.
A new zeal for establishing the Peace and Justice of God,
A new desire to set the Earth to rights
A new understanding of the connectedness of all things,
A new appreciation of the gift of Earth.

Amen

*Recommended reading for people of faith on the topic of Creation Care is Tri Robinson's _Saving God's Green Earth_.

A Dead Man in LadyBird Lake + Litany for the Homeless

We had a sad and stark thing happen in our family this week. My husband Jordan Gadapee is sharing the tale. A litany from me follows his story.

On December 28, 2016, a man was found dead floating in Austin’s Lady Bird Lake. The man likely drowned, but authorities are not yet sure of the cause of death. He was wearing baggy pants, several shirts, and four neckties. He had a butter knife in his pocket. His name, age, and reasons for being in the lake were all unknown. If you live in the Austin area, you may have come across the story. It’s possible you saw the headline in a passing tweet. Maybe you heard a brief news report on the incident. Or, perhaps, there was an odd odor on your afternoon run. I didn’t run that day.

I work in downtown Austin at 301 Congress St. The lake is a few blocks away from my office, and a lunchtime jog makes for a great pardon on busy days. The man was found floating one mile from my office. That’s 5,280 feet. When the weather is nice, the park around the lake is full of people. You’ll find runners, walkers, and casual explorers. My favorite person is the homeless man who sleeps on the bench. If he’s awake, he’ll give you a high-five as you run past. It was 82° Fahrenheit that day, and I imagine his hand stinging from too many high-fives. I didn’t get a high-five that day.

Lady Bird is a local favorite for recreational watercraft, and the day was perfect for breaking in the kayaks delivered by Santa. Beautiful weather is the upside to Christmas in Texas. A couple of kayakers were enjoying the weather when they spotted the body floating. It’s unusual for people to swim in the lake — thanks to the chlordane, overgrowth, and old debris. The man was unresponsive, so they called 911. I didn’t see the police tape; I was in my office.

I was also in my office on January 03, 2017. It was a week later and cooler outside. The temperature was 74° Fahrenheit. I had just talked to my mother, and she briefed me on the incoming call. I was still holding my phone when it started vibrating. I answered the call at 4:38 pm. Jennifer spoke with a practice cadence of a surgeon, “Hi Jordan. I am Jennifer from the Travis County Coroner’s office.” Pause. “On December 28th your biological father was found dead in Lady Bird Lake.” Shock. Jennifer was excellent at her job. She answered some of my questions: “Yes dead on the scene.” “Drowned, we think. There are other tests still results we need.” “We identified him by his fingerprints.” Silence. “You have an aunt and her name is Jan. She is making the arrangements.” The volley of questions lasted 6 minutes. I wanted to go for a run.

I didn’t know my biological father. I would learn from Jennifer that he was indigent — that’s fancy for homeless. Being homeless means he was a part of society but mostly unseen, unheard, and untouched. He was invisible. Just like in my life; there and not. Present in my enzymes and proteins but not for soccer practice or bed time. No one was looking for him. It took the county seven days to find a relative one mile away. I didn’t even know we lived in the same city. Repeat: I had no idea we both lived in Austin, Texas! There had been divorce, estrangement, distance, and decades. His kinship rights waived long ago. We spoke on the phone once. It was 14 years ago and the conversation was brief. He turned invisible again after that. I never got to run with my father, though we walked on the same streets.

We may have met. I keep spare change and dollar bills in my car to give away to homeless people. I sometimes give away my lunch. I’ve served at food banks and helped box food in South Austin. When my children ask why I give money away, I explain, “This is what kind humans do. We have and they do not, so we share.” I should ask the homeless their names; kind people do that. If I had asked, this story could be different. I am resolved to close the loop and to return kindness for his unkindness. To be present even though he was not. I will be there for whatever service or memorial or tombstone he has. I will try to learn the names of the invisible (especially, high-five-black-man).

Nine days later, the weather has turned. Today the high is 38° Fahrenheit. I do not feel like running. However, I have had many other feels over the last week. Most of all sadness, loneliness, and curiosity. I have been desperate for the nearness of my family. A run with my wife Fran would heal much. I am sad for many reasons. Among them are the circumstances of his dying homeless. Being homeless and dying must be like watching a pot boil. Slowly violent. To die without a place, lonely, and invisible while there is so much and so many around is sad. I’m embarrassed that it happens in our society. I am willing to help.

There are many organizations in the Austin area that provide aid, services, and education to the homeless. Over the next year, I will be giving to money to Caritas of Austin, boxing food at the Central Texas Food Bank, and supporting the Food Pantry at the Austin Vineyard Church. If you’d like to do the same, the links are below. It would make me happy. I will try and run around Lady Bird Lake more often. Most of all, I will learn the names of the homeless I encounter. His name was Johnny.

Caritas of Austin, Tell them Jordan sent you in the comments of your donation.

Austin Vineyard Church, Your donation can go directly to the food ministry. They feed almost 100 families a month.  

Central Texas Food Bank, it’s a great place to volunteer. The people are awesome. It’s great for teams.

If you give to your local charity, linking this article will help them track to source and reasons for your donation.

As a final note I think it’s important to acknowledge that my mother is an incredible woman. The man my mother re-married years later is a loving and caring father. He is my dad. He was always there at soccer practice.

 

LITANY FOR THE HOMELESS

God, we know that many invisible people exist all around us:
People we consider beneath us,
People we judge for what we consider their poor choices or low standards,
People we distance ourselves from because they are unclean,
People who have been ill or made mistakes and fallen through the cracks of society,
The beggars at the gate. (1)

We don't know them,
But you do.
We don't know their names,
But you know each hair on their heads.
We often fail to care for them,
But they are precious in your sight.

Help us to see what your eyes see:
Human beings
Broken and beautiful
Sacred and scarred.

For those without shelter
We pray to God.
For those without jobs
We pray to God.
For those without food, water, and facilities
We pray to God.
For those who have been imprisoned and never recovered
We pray to God.
For those whose minds are befuddled by illness
We pray to God.
For those destroyed by war
We pray to God.
For those overwhelmed by addiction
We pray to God.
For those who have simply lost hope
We pray to God.

In the midst of death and dying,
Of filth and discomfort;
Of hunger, thirst, and exposure,
Come Lord Jesus!

Make us your hands and feet:
Generous sharers and helpers,
Bearers of the good news of your kingdom
Even unto the Invisibles.

Amen

(1) Luke 16