Epiphany Week 7 (Year C): Litany for Loving Kinship

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This week’s Gospel reading includes Luke’s account of the Beatitudes. This account is also known as “blessings and woes,” as it differs from Matthew’s Beatitudes significantly. However, the spirit is the same, and they are incidentally not dissimilar to Mary’s Magnificat from a few chapters earlier in Luke. “Woe to you who are rich,” echoes Christ’s Mother’s words from years earlier: “he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty” (1).

I’ve been exploring themes of privilege and connectedness in this Epiphany series, and this week’s “blessings and woes” fit right in. Woe to you who are privileged, for your privilege blinds you. Blessed are you who who understand that we are all connected - by suffering, by need, by humanity… and that we are the very ones we judge to be lowly.

If we let them, this teaching of Jesus has the capacity to awaken us from our deadness, our un-compassion, our judgement, and into acceptance, forgiveness, and love. May it be so, and may we pray with humility and willingness to be transformed.


God, help us to cast aside all judgement,
All fear of Other,
All attachment to privilege,
All lack of compassion;
And to step instead into the glorious abundance of your community…

Love and Gratitude,

f

1) Luke 1:5







Epiphany Week 4 (Year C): Litany for Parts of a Whole

I find it interesting that the Lectionary always seems to speak so keenly to the current moment. The past few days I’ve contemplated the state of things, and Dr. King’s legacy, and how the Church (capital C) is doing, and how the country is doing. And I attended an MLK memorial/celebration march and service at a local sibling church, which was inspiring in some ways, but sobering in others. We have so far to go with dismantling white supremacy in this country, and within the American Church; and that is not a new or disputable fact.

What I’m learning from listening to and reading BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) activists is that we white people need to listen humbly, educate ourselves and our communities, and support the work. And a great way to support the work is by financially contributing to organizations that uplift BIPOC communities and meet their needs. I’m doing this as I can, and I encourage my white siblings to as well. Here are a few I’m particularly inspired by*:

Equal Justice Initiative
Million Hoodies
A Voice for the Unheard
Black Women’s Health Initiative
Partnership with Native Americans

I’ve written this week’s litany with the Lectionary selections in mind, which remind us of our unchangeable status as parts of a whole, as siblings, and as co-laborers. What hurts one sector of our Beloved Community, hurts us all. What uplifts, uplifts us all. Christ’s stated mission in Luke 4 is our mission, too. And…


We are all part of each other.
Our connectedness is unbreakable.
Any separation is only imagined.

If you’re looking for other litanies surrounding these topics, please check out
Litany for Justice and Equality
Litany for MLK Day
Litany for Addressing Racism
Litany for Embracing Race

*Even small amounts matter. But I know, not everyone can contribute financially. Do what you can, educate yourself via the multitude of free resources in local libraries and the internet, be curious, be humble. And may God bless your efforts.

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 Year-End Reflection

God, in everything that’s happened this year,
Both good and bad,
We know that you were with us,
Always loving and present.

We’re spending time looking backwards, in hindsight,
Assessing our own progress and growth;
What worked, what didn’t,
What helped, what hindered.

And we’re spending time looking forwards, toward the new year,
Setting intentions and voicing our hopes
What we’d like to accomplish and improve,
What we’d like to experience and enjoy.

But we are also learning
To be in this moment,
To breathe deeply into our bodies
Right here, right now.

Because we know that the doorway to the Community of Heaven
Is right now -
Accessible always, no matter the circumstance,
Timeless and reliable.

And so we celebrate the year -
Its beginnings and its endings,
Its triumphs and its failures,
Its gifts and its receipts -
By turning our attention to you, Great Present,
Divine Attention, Conscious Now,
And leaning into the eternal flow of Love
As Christ has taught us.

We offer gratitude for each experience
For each person,
And we put our hope in the continued revealing
Of the peace, joy, and love of God.

Amen

Litany for Appreciation

Happy Thanksgiving Week! Everyone is talking about my favorite things this week: Gratitude. But I actually want to talk about the thing I consider the precursor to gratitude: Appreciation.

I have heard and read a lot of spiritual teachers from many different backgrounds say something to this effect: if you can get your mind/attitude/energy into a mode of appreciation, you can change your life because then you start to change how you perceive your life. Teachers from all walks of life say: appreciation is a precursor to gratitude, and gratitude is a precursor to love.

A patron recently called my attention to this passage in the Gospel of Luke, in which we see this rare attitude of appreciation illuminated:


11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus[a] was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers[b] approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’[c] feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Ten are healed. One expresses appreciation. And I get the sense that when Jesus says “your faith has made you well” he means more than just physical wellness. I have a hunch that Jesus is acknowledging this attitude of gratitude to be a deeper inroad to wholeness; and that, somehow, appreciation is a bold exercise of faith. But here’s a thing I notice: to appreciate something, we first have to be paying attention to it. And attention is a costly thing - it takes intention and practice and deep looking. It takes what many spiritual teachers call Mindfulness.

In her book _Grateful_, Diana Butler Bass says, “Gratitude is not only an emotion; it is something we do. It is like tending a garden. It takes planting and watering and weeding. It takes time and attention. It takes learning. It takes routine. But, eventually, the ground yields, shoots come forth, and thanksgiving blooms.”

I wonder if all ten of those ex-lepers felt gratitude, but only one had any experience with doing gratitude? And if the teachers are right and the roadmap looks like this: (Attention → Appreciation → Gratitude → Love), then what does that mean for how we go about cultivating love and loving action in our lives? It’s a pretty good question, I think. Here’s a prayer for the roadmap:

God, as we seek to live lives of intentional love,
We acknowledge the importance of paying attention
To the deep self,
To the external lesson,
To the need and the want,
To the fulfillment and the calling,
To the disease and the healing,
To the existence and the blessing.

We are learning how to cultivate and grow love and loving action:
Starting with attention and observation,
Moving into appreciation and thankfulness,
Letting gratitude shift us into love.

We know that love is the foundation of the universe -
That the deepest particle,
The inmost kernel,
The alpha and the omega, is love.

But sometimes, in the midst of everything happening to us,
Love is kind of hard to get to.
So we are learning to start somewhere even simpler:
By paying attention,
By offering appreciation,
By letting appreciation lead to gratitude.

And we know that if we can get in gratitude’s groove and vicinity
It can show us the way to love,
Even in murky waters,
Even in complicated situations.

So, boldly, resisting the voices that tell us to duck and run,
We do our first act of faith,
Which is to appreciate even the meagerest of blessings,
And offer praise and thanksgiving. Amen


An Interfaith Litany for the United States (January 2018)

God* we ask for help and intervention in this moment.
Give us ears to hear, eyes to see, and hands to work for good.
Hear now our requests for aid and wisdom.
Lord*, hear our prayer.

For the sick and infirm
We pray to the Lord*.
For the homeless and hungry
We pray to the Lord.
For the poor and destitute
We pray to the Lord.
For the children of low-income families without health insurance
We pray to the Lord.
For the Dreamers, brought to the US as children and now facing possible deportation
We pray to the Lord.
For those affected by the ongoing epidemic of gun violence
We pray to the Lord.
For those unjustly imprisoned
We pray to the Lord.
For all who experience societal injustice
We pray to the Lord.

For Republicans in congress
We pray to the Lord.
For Democrats in congress
We pray to the Lord.
For Donald Trump
We pray to the Lord.
For Mike Pence
We pray to the Lord.
For justices, judges, and members of the judicial system
We pray to the Lord.
For people employed by government agencies
We pray to the Lord.
For those facing danger in the military
We pray to the Lord.
For those working for justice and aid organizations
We pray to the Lord.
For those working for law enforcement and security agencies
We pray to the Lord.
For Robert Mueller and his team
We pray to the Lord.
For journalists working to disseminate truth
We pray to the Lord.
For those who are speaking truth to power
We pray to the Lord.
That all these people, ourselves included, might have the eyes of their hearts enlightened
We pray to the Lord.

Give us compassion, oh God
To see beyond our own safety and comfort,
To work to heal and help the people of our land,
And find unity in our shared humanity.
May truth and justice win the day
And love and mercy win the hearts of all.

Amen

*I intend for this prayer to be ecumenical and interfaith. Please feel free to substitute whatever address for God (Spirit, Universe, Allah, etc) is your preference.