Epiphany Week 8 (Year C): Litany for the Hard Teachings

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This week’s Lectionary covers 1 Corinthians 15, and a continuation of Luke 6, the Sermon on the Plain. Like the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, Luke’s account contains some of Jesus’ most radical and counter-cultural teachings… themes religion has historically not applied or taught well. Instead of embracing non-judgement and non-duality, the church became famous for condemnation. Instead of loving enemies, the church aligned itself with warring powers.

These are hard teachings, especially for Western ears to hear. Especially for wealthy, privileged Americans to hear. We need these universal spiritual teachings in front of our eyes and in our ears, penetrating our consciousness anew in these times.




God, some of the teachings we received from Christ are difficult
Asking us to practice counter-cultural ways of being.

So much of us must die
To become alive.
So much of what we desire must be let go
For us to truly receive it…



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

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This is part of my effort to make 2019 a #yearofwritingsustainably
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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 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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Litany for Christmas Eve (Year C)

From a reading of Luke 2, the Lectionary gospel for Christmas, Year C.

God, we can’t help but feel a bit scandalized
About the way the Son of God was born to earth:
There was no room
There was no bed
There was no midwife
And no fine baby blankets

And when the Mother had finished her work
She wrapped her babe -
The hope of nations -
In strips of homespun cloth,
And laid him to sleep in a manger,
The humblest of corners.

But still, whenever we think about that night
We sigh with relief;
Because we know that for you,
We don’t have to put on a show,
We don’t have to fake anything,
We don’t have to hide the truth of ourselves,
We don’t have to have everything spotless and together,
Before you come in our door.

The most monumental works are done in the smallest increments.
The most glorious hymns are sung by the croakiest voices.
The most brilliant cathedrals are built by the roughest hands.
The most fervent prayers are prayed by the gentlest souls.

Even as the tiniest baby,
The Christ was telling the glory of God.
The highest heights are made low for you.
You level the roughest terrain (1).

Amen

1) Isaiah 40:4







Advent Week 4 (Year C): Look Up, There’s Love

Mary’s Magnificat is part of the Lectionary selection for week 4 of Advent. One of the most beautiful and stirring prayers in scripture, spoken by a young woman of humble origin, accepting a dangerous long-term mission with gratitude, grit, and grace.

God, you are mighty in Love
You have done great things for us:
Lifted up the lowly
Filled the hungry with good things.
You have helped us
And showed us what mercy looks like (Luke 1:52-54);

Mercy has gathered bone and sinew.
Love has taken on flesh,
Saving us from heartless wandering
And merciless suffering.

Love’s Ambassador showed up and invited us
Into the work of building outposts,
Enclaves of lovingkindness,
Starting within our own hearts.

The work begins within us:
The Community of God grows within our beings
And blossoms outward to other people,
To become a network of love,
Blanketing the world:
Each intersection a soul.

We have only to wait a bit now,
While the momentum builds.
The day is coming
When love will reach a critical mass
And its reality will overtake fear.
All our waiting and working will be complete.

We thank you, oh God,
For the gift of Love within us.

Amen


Advent Week 3 (Year C): Look Up, There’s Joy

This litany draws from the Lectionary readings for Week 3 of Advent, Year C.

God, one of the best things about the way you made things,
And the most challenging for us,
Is that joy is always available.
Returning to love is always an option,
Even in the midst of turmoil;
Even in distress.

We know that we always have access to joy
By choosing to be in the present moment,
To practice gratitude,
To pay attention,
To be mindful,
To surrender.

When we become awake to you, God,
We open the door to joy;
We open the door to your constant loving acceptance,
And to the gladness of your presence.

Sing aloud, and shout!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart (1, 2)!
The LORD has taken away the judgments against us,
And has turned away our enemies (1).

God rejoices over us with gladness.
God renews us in love.
God exults over us with loud singing (3).
We share in the joy of God.

Amen.

  1. Zephaniah 3:14,15

  2. Philippians 4:4

  3. Zephaniah 3:17

Advent Week 2 (Year C): Look Up, There's Beauty

Look, I know week 2 of Advent is usually about peace. But the lectionary passages for the day are so strongly themed with beauty, particularly the Apocryphal passage, that I couldn’t resist. Plus, it’s how we’re interpreting it this year at Peace for our Advent sermon series entitled “Look Up". So, a little beauty in your Advent mix this year.

God, it’s easy for us to get bogged down
In our to-do lists,
The problems we must solve,
The needs we must meet,
The expectations we put upon ourselves,
The crises we must manage --
And forget that beneath everything
There is the hum of beauty.

Beneath dust and decay,
There is a sheen of value.
Beneath disease and distress,
There is a sparkle of wisdom.
Beneath the appearance of death,
There is the glimmer of rebirth.
Beneath the cloak of sorrow and affliction,
There is the endless beauty of the glory from God (1).

Awaken us, oh God, to the beauty beneath,
The beauty that confronts us
With your presence and power,
Your plan and purpose.

We know that by the tender mercy of our God,
The dawn from on high will break upon us,
And the beauty of God will overwhelm our senses.
May we be alert, and looking for it.

Amen

1) Baruch 5:1


Advent Week 1 (Year C): Look Up, There’s Hope

Our Advent preaching series for this year is entitled “Look Up.” I’ve developed this years Advent litany series to play on that theme, as well as follow along with the Lectionary passages for the season. This one, the first in the series, centers on Luke 21 and Psalm 25.

God, the nations rage.
The earth shudders.
Storms, fires, and violence abound.
The people are in distress.

In the midst of turmoil,
In the midst of trouble and need,
In the midst of swirling forces
We look up.

So intent on the needs and crises before us,
We raise our downward gaze.
Shifting away from our worry and despair,
We adjust our focus.
Heavy-hearted, weighed down by the cares of this life (1),
We release our burdens.

We look up to the heavens,
To signs in the sun, moon, and stars (2).
We look up toward the horizon,
To the coming dawn,
Because you are our help.
Your paths are steadfast love and faithfulness.
Do not let us be put to shame
Because we trust in you.

We stand up and raise our heads;
Our redemption is drawing near (3).

Amen


  1. Luke 21:34

  2. Luke 21:25

  3. Luke 21:28

Litany for Neighbors (Proper 24, Year B)

This litany is inspired by a reading of this week’s Gospel passage from Mark 12.

Christ, you taught us the keys to life,
The greatest commandments:
Love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength;
Love our neighbors as ourselves (1).

We are asked to love Love
And to serve Love.
Teach us what this means, oh God,
And help us to do it well.

So fill us with love, oh God,
That we don’t have room for anything else.
Let us be enlarged and expanded
And awakened by Love.

Let our eyes never veer from Love,
Our hearts never stray from Love,
Our minds be fixed on Love,
Our bodies dedicated to love’s service.
And as we do the work of learning to accept and love ourselves,
Let us also accept and love our neighbors.  

Let care and concern for our neighbors well-being and highest good
Be the hallmark of our work.
For these are our neighbor and our family:
The poor, the lonely, the sick, the prisoner
The underdog, the misunderstood, the ones who long,
The far-away and the beggar at our gate,
The flawed and the downtrodden
The familiar and the alien.

Love is who and Whose we are.
And love is what we do.
Amen.


  1. Mark 12:30,31

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



A Poem for Holy Cross (Year B)

The Feast of Holy Cross is September 14.

To kill the hero is the utterest of mistakes;
Bad storytelling at best;
Stark failure at worst.

To glorify the tool, the rood, the cross
Admission of defeat at best;
Unhealthy obsession at worst.

And yet the worst mistaken failure is the world’s best story;
And the worst instrument the most shining (1).

Because when the worst shames the best,
Makes it meaningless and futile,
Reinvents its deathful purpose toward life -
Reimagines its ending as beginning….

Then we can be ushered into something entirely new.
And we can, maybe, grasp a new symbology,
Understand a new language,
Grow synaptic pathways previously unheard of.

If we can do this, then perhaps the sting of our own shame and torture and personal hells
Can become something else too?


  1. 1 Cor 1:18



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 Strength (Proper 16, Year B)

Much of the book of Ephesians is a re-imagination of how followers of The Way should respond to ordinary yet oppressive paradigms, subverting and disarming them. This litany is inspired by a reading of the Lectionary epistle for the week, from Ephesians 6, in which the author re-imagines weapons and weaponry in light of the paradigm of Christ. We no longer require conventional weapons and armor - they won't get us anywhere in this work. We need imagination and presence and persistence instead, the mind of Christ. We are invited into a new kind of strength, one that looks altogether different than violence, subjugation, and hierarchy; one that elevates Love's authority above all.

 

God, we live in soul-testing times
God, give us strength.
Times when evil is cloaked as politics and religion
God, give us strength.
When moral catastrophe is normal
God, give us strength.
When lies are told more often than truth
God, give us strength.

We put on the whole armor of God,
Belt of truth,
Breastplate of righteousness,
Peace at our feet,
Shield of faith,
Helmet of salvation,
Sword of the Spirit,
Daily rhythm of prayer (1).

We strengthen ourselves - not to kill
But to bring life!
To set free!
To wage peace!

Because we know that our enemies don’t wear human flesh,
But are found in systems, power structures, age-old traditions,
Powers of darkness,
Forces of evil;
And our best arms and ammunition
Are the love and light of Christ.

For freeing prisoners and making the dead rise,
God give us strength.
For breaking down injustice and resisting despair and apathy,
God, give us strength.
For undoing broken paradigms and rebuilding healthy ones,
God give us strength.

We ask for help, that we may be strong in times of trouble,
Steadfast under pressure,
Kind in the face of evil,
Peaceful in the wake of chaos. Amen

1) Ephesians 6:13-17

Litany for Wisdom (Proper 15, Year B)

This week’s Lectionary selections center around Wisdom, and the search for Wisdom. We see Wisdom personified as a Divine Feminine aspect in Proverbs; we hear God’s pleasure in Solomon’s request for Wisdom in 1 Kings; and we are exhorted to live “not as unwise people, but wise” in Ephesians 5. In the Proverbs, we are invited to eat the bread at Wisdom's table, and later in John 6, Christ identifies himself as that bread.


God, as Solomon asked for Wisdom of old,
So we ask for insight and understanding.

We hear Wisdom calling (1);
Let us answer her.
Come, let us commune with Wisdom:
Let us enter her house,
Eat of her table,
And enjoy her delights.

For you have offered yourself, oh God:
Wisdom, Word, and Bread -
Different facets of yourself, different metaphors;
Same loving Spirit.

Give us hearts that hunger and thirst for Wisdom,
For true wisdom and understanding:
That we may lay aside immaturity, and live,
That we may and walk in the way of insight (2).
That we may depart from evil, and do good;
That we may seek peace, and pursue it (3);
Making for ourselves and the generations to come,
A world rich in spirit, and rich in peace.

Amen

1) Proverbs 9:3
2) Proverbs 9:6
3) Psalm 34:14

Ordinary Time (Year B): Litany for Crazy ol' Jesus

The Lectionary passages for Proper 5 (Year B) contain the story of the time Jesus' family thought he had gone crazy. His ideas and practices were so far outside of their comfort zone that they thought he'd gone nuts. The text says: “When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, "He has gone out of his mind" (Mark 3:21).

This is what I love about him. Unexpected, unconventional, challenger of expectations and assumption; dumping old paradigms for what's sane and respectable and inventing new ones made out of entirely different stuff.

 

Christ, you arrived on earth with a lot of harebrained ideas.
People thought you were crazy
For your unconventional brand of kindness,
For breaking rules,
For making unexplainable miracles happen,
For re-interpreting scripture,
For rejecting violent means ,
For consorting with sinners,
For re-defining family (1);
For giving unexpected advice:
     Like, love your enemies
     Be humble
     Pray for those who persecute you
     Don’t judge
     Consider the poor
     Make peace.

You baffled everybody you met, from the time you were a child.
You’re still astounding us now.

It’s this same unpredictable grace,
This dazzling mercy,
This lively Love
This upside-down agenda,
That captures our imaginations many years after you last walked the earth in flesh.
We are captivated by you.

Look, here are our hearts:
Put your own heart in us.
Look, here are our minds:
Awaken them.
Look, here are our hands:
Show us the work to do.
Look, here are our voices:
Teach us to speak mercy.

You, crazy old Jesus! You ineffable Force of Love:
You’re the one we want to follow.

Amen
 

1) Mark 3:35

Litany for Re-Birth

This litany is based upon the Gospel reading for Trinity Sunday, Year B, the story of Nicodemus and his nighttime run on enlightenment. If you're looking for a litany more specifically geared toward Trinitarian themes, please see this one.

 

Christ, we hate to admit that we can identify with Nicodemus,
Who had a reputation to uphold;
So he came to visit you at night, through the back door; (1)
Burning with curiosity,
Hoping for enlightenment on the sly.
You know how secretly needy we are.

You are a leader of rascals and rebels,
Keeper of mysteries,
Able to reach over the laws of nature
And grab hold of the miraculous,
Pulling it into our here and now:
Miracles of healing and transcendence.

We are fascinated by you,
And a little confused.
We are humbled by you.
You teach us how little we know.

You are like a telescope,
Showing us the mysteries of heaven.
You are like a mirror,
Showing us our potential.

You seem to speak to us in riddles: To get to the end,
We must go back to the beginning.
To get to the Community of God
We must be re-born. (2)

Well, birth is a messy business,
A rite of passage for all.
Grant that we may participate in this mystery:
To be born of spirit
From the womb of heaven
Into the arms of heaven.

Amen

1) John 3:2
2) John 3:3

Pentecost (Year B): Litany for Walking in Spirit

This Litany for Pentecost Sunday is taken from a reading of the Lectionary passages for the day.

 

God, let us walk in the persuasive love and power of your Spirit,
Seeing with your vision,
Dreaming with your creativity,
Speaking the universal language of love. (1)

You are making yourself available to us:
Through Christ and his communion,
You are making yourself known to us,
Through Spirit and her presence.

Grant that we may cast off our old prejudices:
    Regarding gender,
    Regarding race,
    Regarding qualifications;
And that we may follow the wind of your spirit
Wherever it goes,
Listening to the whispering rustle of your voice, (2)
Wherever we hear it.

The energy of your spirit
Is the energy we need
To power our good works,
To fuel our imaginations.

Pour out your Spirit upon us,
That we may speak to death and bring forth life, (3)
Embody your ways,
And create with you your city of light.
Amen



1) Acts 2:6
2) Acts 2:2
3) Ezekiel 37:9
 

Easter 6 (Year B): Litany for Lasting Fruit

This litany is taken from a reading of John 15, which is part of the Lectionary selection for 5/6/18. In particular this verse:
"You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name." (John 15:16)

 

God, in Christ you let us in on your Grand Plan. (1)
You shared your heart with us,
And invited us in to be part of your agenda:
Part of the healing.

You didn’t set up barriers - not to baptism, nor the table, nor forgiveness, nor community
You tore them down!
You ripped down the temple dividers (2).
You flung open doors.
You set up a new paradigm for faith
And a new benchmark for success:

Which is love.
Always love. (3)

We want to do things for you:
Beautiful things.
We want to create things for you:
Things that last.

So help us, God, to do small things with great love (4),
And great things with great love;
And lasting things that create love,
And creative things that love well and long.

Amen
 

  1. John 15:9

  2. Matthew 27:51

  3. John 15:12

  4. From a quote attributed to Mother Teresa: 'Do small things with great love'