Litany for the Widow’s Mite (Year B, Proper 27)

This litany is inspired by this week’s Lectionary reading from the Gospel of Mark.

God, many of us don’t think we have much to offer.
We discount our gifts, creativity, or abilities;
Or we have trauma that keeps us from offering,
Or we don’t trust ourselves.

But we know that you see us and are inviting us to give,
No matter how small the gift.
We know that you accept us,
    Even our two-bit gifts,
    Our meagerness,
    Our poverty of heart;
Because you are abundantly loving,
    Abundantly patient,
    Abundantly kind,
    Abundantly generous.

And we know that when we offer up ourselves,
Our time,
Our resources,
Our attention,
You make miracles with what we’ve offered -
Water becomes wine (1),
Loaves and fishes become food for thousands (2),
Streams flow in deserts (3).

No gift is too small in your eyes,
No start is too humble,
No moment too late,
No effort unseen.

The smallest seed becomes the largest tree.
The most ordinary generosity changes the world.

So, we offer to you our mites and bits
And ask for them to be enlarged,
That you would expand our efforts and our seeing
So that we may be part of the transformation.

Amen

  1. John 2:1-11

  2. John 6:1-14

  3. Psalm 107:35

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



Litany for the Greatness of God (Year B, Proper 24)

This week’s Lectionary includes the passage from Job in which God sits Job down and sets him straight about who’s Who in the universe. Then the Mark 10 passage, Jesus sits his disciples down and sets them straight about the nature of Greatness. Taken together, the passages are an invitation to return to wonder and humility and trust; to refrain from centering ourselves in the narrative, and start looking both outside ourselves, and deep within.*


God, so often we are hunkered down, focused on our responsibilities,
Our eyes on our small screens,
Our awareness on our troubles or our achievements;
That we forget about your greatness and beauty.

We forget to look at stars and clouds.
We forget to partake of silence and solitude.
We forget to listen to wind and whisper.
We let our attention wander away from you.

Remind us, oh God, in our daily bread and practice,
That you are the author of all things,
That you made love the building blocks of the universe,
That your kindness caused heaven and nature to exist.

Remind us, oh God, that we are both your handiwork and your Beloved,
That we are connected to all of creation,
That we are temples in which you dwell (1);
And yet you dwell in unapproachable light (2).

And when we get too busy trying to know you with our rational minds
Trying to think thoughts about you;
Bring us back to infinite enfolding love,
Which can only be experienced, felt, and surrendered to

Help us to return to wonder,
And turn our fear to love;
For you are clothed with honor and majesty,
Wrapped in light as with a garment (3).
You inspire wonder and trust.
All beauty has its origin in you.

Amen


  1. 1 Corinthians 3:16

  2. 1 Timothy 6:16

  3. Psalm 104:1,2

*I was especially encouraged by last week’s meditations from the Center for Action and Contemplation. The God Particle particularly made my eyes leaky.

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 the Heart (Proper 17, Year B)

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This week’s Gospel reading comes from Mark 7, where Jesus is challenged by some Pharisees as to why his disciples don’t follow all the rules they ought to. And Christ seems to think they are focusing on the wrong things, that the inward state of the heart is more worth working on.

 

God, the current of your love is flowing to us;
We don’t want anything to get in the way of it -
Not anything outside of us,
Or anything inside our own hearts.

We are beginning to understand that evil
Is whatever impedes love.
So help us, God; and don’t let us get caught in the trap
Of following rules,
Of observing tradition,
Of controlling behavior,
Of managing appearances,
And ignoring the state of our hearts.

We know we must be transformed from the inside out
That we must do inner work to become aligned with love:*
Disconnecting from judgement,
Releasing resentment,
Clearing hostility,
Relinquishing pride,
Cultivating compassion,
Creating peace.

And we know that we must allow love to work on us, removing impediments,
Restoring us to our truest nature:
God-children,
Love-centered,
Heart-open,
Christ-conscious,
Creative beings,
Reflecting your heart in ours.

Let our hearts, like beacons, point the way to yours,
Shining Love’s illumination. Amen


*I actually believe we ARE aligned with love, we just have to wake up and realize it, and clear out all the stuff that keeps us from seeing it. But for the purposes of the flow of this prayer, I’m using this wording.

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

Litany for Emotional Health (Proper 14, Year B)

This litany is inspired by a reading of the New Testament passage for the week (Proper 14, Year B)

God, help us to put away what doesn’t serve us,
What doesn’t serve Love,
What doesn’t offer forgiveness,
What doesn’t fit in your community.

We put away falsehood and dishonesty.
We put away destructive talk.
We put away bitterness and malice.
We put away power struggles.

Instead of repressing our anger,
We choose to examine it;
We choose to feel it,
We choose to release it.

We choose to deal honestly with our emotions,
And our difficult relationships,
And the pain we’ve experienced,
And so come clean to it all.

Help us to observe ourselves unflinchingly,
And to see down to the truth of what is.
For to honesty and truth
We add kindness and forgiveness (1).

Help us, Oh God, to be imitators of the Divine (2),
Living in full freedom, acceptance, and love. Amen

1) Ephesians 4:32
2) Ephesians 5:1

Litany for Bread of Life (Proper 13, Year B)

This litany is inspired by a reading of this week's Lectionary passages for Proper 13, Year B; specifically the Exodus 16, Psalm 78, and John 6, which are about desire and satisfaction.


God, we can spend our whole lives searching for things to fill us,
Our whole lives feeling empty,
Our whole lives looking for satisfaction,
Believing we are incomplete.

Many of us know this gnawing hunger,
This driving desire,
And we have tried many things to satisfy us -
     Possessions and pleasure,
     Rich food and drink,
     Misplaced intimacy,
     Achievement and status,
     Adventure and thrill.

None of these, of themselves, are bad -
it’s just that we tend to think they will fulfill us.
And then we find that the deep soul yearning -
     To be known,
     To be loved,
     To be at one,
     To be at ease,
     To be still,
     To be free -
        Remains.

Because these things can accent life, can be enjoyed, can accessorize life,
But they are not life.

And you sent us the Christ, to offer us a new headspace, a different mode of being,
A new fuel.
Christ offered himself as manna in this desert:
The Bread of Life. (1)

This is the new bread: that we realize our oneness with Christ
And with his community;
That we allow ourselves to be nourished from the inside out
And find ourselves transformed;
That we believe and follow his path of love and peace,
To arrive where we first began: complete and whole.

Amen

1) John 6:35
 

Litany for Compassion Fatigue (Proper 11, Year B)

In this week's Gospel reading, we see a tired Christ surrounded by tired disciples, looking for some rest and respite from their work. But they can't find it, even when they get on a boat and sail away to an empty place. Crowds of the sick and needy still find them there. And Christ sees the crowd and Mark's gospel says "he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd."

If you are suffering from compassion fatigue in these times, you're not alone. Maybe this litany will be helpful to you.

 

God, we bear witness to Christ:
In scripture,
In spirit,
And in our own experience.

We see the times when he and his disciples were exhausted
By the constant cries of distressed people,
By exerting themselves in service
By crowds and noise and need.

We have felt those same feelings,
And needed similar rest.

Help us not to grow irritable or resistant
To the needs of human beings;
But to have compassion for your people,
The sheep of your pasture.
For we are among them,
Hungry and in need of healing;
Hoping to touch the fringe of Christ’s cloak (Mark 6:56),
Hoping for miracles.

Help us to find respite from noise and distraction
And find connection with you,
Life with you,
Nourishment with you,
Peace with you,
Rest with you.

As as we daily enter the quiet place of restoration,
May we find you there.
And when we must go a little farther, pour out a little more,
May we receive our strength from you.
Amen

Litany for Dancing (Year B, Proper 10)

This prayer is connected to the Lectionary passages for Proper 10, the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B; specifically to the account in 2 Samuel where David accompanies the ark of the LORD into Jerusalem with dancing, music, and rejoicing.

 

God, we know that where your presence is
There is joy.
Where your glory dwells
There is joy.

As your servant David danced with all his might in the presence of the Ark (1),
So we embrace joy in the nearness of God;
You have not removed yourself from us,
Nor made yourself unavailable us.
We are your own people, whom you have blessed with every spiritual blessing (2)
Whom you love.

For surely you will speak peace to your people
When we turn to you in our hearts. (3)
Where you are, steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other. (4)

Oh God, grant that we may be so connected to your goodness,
And so aware of your presence,
That even when circumstances around us appear grim
We can have joy;
That even though we have all the facts (5),
We can rejoice;
That even though our dignity is suspect,
We can dance.

We carry your presence like arks within us,
Dancing as we go.
Amen

 

  1. 2 Samuel 6:14

2) Ephesians 1:3

3) Psalm 85:8

4) Psalm 85:10

5) From Wendell Berry’s poem “Mad Farmer Liberation Front”: “Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.”

 

Litany for the Prophets (Year B, Proper 9)

This litany is inspired by a reading of this week's Lectionary passages from Mark 6 and Ezekiel 2.

God, we give thanks for the prophets of the world:
Those who speak the Good News into being,
Those who live out the mercy of Christ in a dog-eat-dog world,
Those who forsake honor and reputation,
Those who speak truth to power,
Those who leave their comfort behind.

For the poets, preachers, and saints,
We give thanks.
For the artists, peaceful protesters, marchers, healers, and humble warriors,
We give thanks.
For those who call out injustice and bring in grace,
We give thanks.
For those whose bodies, whose very lives, reproach the powers,
We give thanks.
For those who bind wounds, create space for lament, and listen deeply,
We give thanks.

We know that, most often, the ones who prophesy to us
Are the ones we ignore.
Most often, the prophets are the marginalized, the scorned, the killed -
Those who follow Christ’s footsteps.

May we be mindful of the prophets.
Soften our hearts, oh God.
May we heed their warnings.
Open our ears, oh God.
May their blood not cry out in vain.
Open our eyes, oh God.
May the bodies of the faithful speak beyond words.
Enlighten our minds, oh God.
May the wakeful awaken us.
Amen.


 

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

 

Ordinary Time (Year B): Litany for The Seed

This week's Lectionary text includes the passage in Mark 4 where Jesus likens the Kingdom of God to a seed.
 

God, we know that your kingdom, your kin-dom, the Community of Heaven
Is like a seed -
It’s potential unknowable;
The smallness of the seed
Defying the magnitude of its becoming:
Bursting with life.

We don’t always know the end result
Just by looking at the seed.
Infinitesimal, full of potential, the seed is the start,
The prime of possibility.

The smallest of seeds
Can become the tallest of trees
Bearing fruit and shade,
Nourishing creatures,
Fractalizing, reproducing, and expanding,
Continuing out infinitely.

How should we understand big things?
By looking closely at small things.
How should we understand God’s Community?
By looking at its seeds among us.

This is what we want to be part of:
This ever-growing
     Ever-including
     Ever-sharing
     Ever-nourishing
     Ever-creative
     Ever-expanding, ever-life-giving communion.

May the seed find good soil in us. Amen

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