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
 

Litany for God Our Mother

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I came across this hymn “Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth” written by Jean Janzen (1991) and based on text from the 14th Century mystic Julian of Norwich.

Mothering God, you gave me birth
in the bright morning of this world.
Creator, source of every breath,
you are my rain, my wind, my sun.

Mothering Christ, you took my form,
offering me your food of light,
grain of new life, and grape of love,
your very body for my peace.

Mothering Spirit, nurturing one,
in arms of patience hold me close,
so that in faith I root and grow
until I flow’r, until I know.

The beauty and simplicity of Janzen's lyrics were part of the inspiration for this week’s Mother’s Day litany. I know that there are many for whom motherhood is a painful subject. I wanted to create space here for those who are not mothers but wish they were, for those for whom motherhood has caused pain, for those whose mothers were unhealthy or hurtful, for those who have lost mothers or children, and for those who don't aspire to motherhood.

There are also those of us women who grew up in churchy contexts who were taught that motherhood was the pinnacle of our aspirations in life. That woman = husband + child. That somehow, on our own we were unworthy of existence. So I also want to create space for those who have had to do battle against those ideas. You are worthy of the loving nurture of God; God's eye is on mothers and non-mothers and non-traditional mothers alike.


Great Mother God
Who created mothers
And invented mothering,
Mother us now:
    Into your peace and comfort,
    Into your nurturing love,
    Into the kindness of your presence,
    Into the shadow of your wings.

We know that mothering takes many forms,
And is done by many kinds of people
In different ways and situations;
Give us the wisdom of your mother-heart.

We know that love is risky:
There’s always the possibility of pain,
The risk of disappointment or loss.
Give us the courage of your mother-heart.

We bring to you the cares of the brokenhearted.
We bring to you the pain of the disappointed.
We bring to you the hardship of the overwhelmed.
We bring to you the ache of the separated.

Teach us the worth of our own souls,
And the value of our existence.

Give us your mother-love:
To heal us,
To nourish us,
To share freely with the world.
Amen

 

 


 

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'

Easter 5 (Year B): Litany for Abiding in Love

This litany is based on a reading of the Lectionary selections for the Fifth Sunday in Easter.

 

God, you put us here on earth as embodied human beings,
For your glory and our learning.
We experience you in all kinds of ways:
    In nature,
    In relationships,
    In community,
    In silence,
    In sacredness.

You dropped a lot of hints about yourself along the way,
     From stone tablets to still, small voices,
     From prophets to angel messengers,
     From rainbows to rescues.
Then you sent Christ Jesus, the epitome of you, to teach us about yourself,
     About your love,
     About forgiveness,
     And about resurrection.

Let us love one another,
Because love is from God;
Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
God is Love. You are Love. (1)
As Christ abides in you, and we abide in Christ, ()
So we abide in Love.

We meditate on all we’ve learned of you,
And we meditate on the life and work of Christ;
Asking that we may know more deeply, more fully,
The Love in which we abide.
 

Amen

1) 1 John 4:7,8
2) John 15:4


 

Easter 4 (Year B): Litany for the Good Shepherd

This litany is taken from a reading of the Lectionary passages for the 4th week of Eastertide, Year B. You can also find Litany for Sheep here.


The Lord is our Shepherd
We lack for nothing. (1)
You are the Good Shepherd.
The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (2)

As Christ has laid down his life for us
So we ought to lay down our lives for one another (2).

Beloved, let us love, not in word or speech,
But in truth and action.
By this we will be reassured:
That we believe in Christ Jesus,
And that we love one another
Just as Christ has commanded.

For the Good Shepherd has taught us by his good example:
To share with those in need (3),
To bring the outsider in (4),
To abide in the Spirit (5),
To lay down our own agendas,
To take up Love’s agenda. (6)

Lead us, Good Shepherd,
Into green pastures,
Beside still waters;
And restore our souls to your peace. (7)

Amen


1) Psalm 23:1
2) 1 John 3:16-18
3) 1 John 3:17
4) John 10:16
5) 1 John 3:24
6) John 10:17
7) Psalm 23:1-3

 

Litany for Earth Day

Earth Day is April 22.


God, on this day we celebrate the gift of this planet, Earth,
Which you created for us as a home:
     A home for humanity
     A home for creatures
     A home for plants
     A good gift of creation.

We are truly sorry for the ways we have corrupted it.
Forgive us.
We are truly sorry for the ways we have disregarded its well-being.
Forgive us.
We are truly sorry for the ways we’ve been complicit in systems that degrade it.
Forgive us.

Help us, Oh God,
To be good stewards of your gifts to us.
Help us, Oh God,
To realize our connectedness to creation.
Help us, Oh God,
To understand our reliance upon the Earth.
Help us, Oh God,
To bring healing to the planet.
Help us, Oh God,
To make changes that benefit all creatures.

As all creation praises and glorifies you,
So we praise you.
As all creation reflects your character and beauty,
So we seek to reflect your beauty.
As all creation supports and sustains us,
So we seek to support one another.

For the gracious gift and vast beauty of creation,
We give thanks.
Amen

Easter 3 (Year B): Litany for the Body of Christ

This litany is drawn from a reading of the Lectionary passages for the Third Sunday in Easter, Year B.

Resurrected Christ, you came to us after your journey through death,
Speaking peace,
Eating and drinking,
Embodied and whole.

And yet, your body still bore the scars of your acceptance,
The marks of your ordeal.
As we, too, bear the scars of our trauma
In this we find hope.

In your body you wear the full arc of humanity:
    It’s struggle and hope,
    It’s birth and death,
    It’s pain and redemption.
Also you carry the full spectrum of divinity:
    Creation’s origin,
    The seeds of the cosmos
    Love’s power.

And these are echoed within us, too:
In Spirit’s presence,
In DNA’s intertwined strands,
In Imago Dei. (1)

So we set out to echo, each day of our lives on this earth,
Your “Peace Be With You,” (2)
Your graceful mission,
Your healing presence,
Your hopeful faith,
Your unstoppable love.

Grant that we may reflect the fullness of your beauty
In all we are, all we say, and all we do.

Amen.



(1) Imago Dei is a latin term meaning "image of God" that applies to humans and refers to the relationship between Creator and created.
(2) Luke 24:36
 

Easter Week 2 (Year B): Litany for the Resurrected Christ

This litany follows along with the Lectionary Readings for the Second Sunday of Easter. For more litanies, consider becoming a patron.

Resurrected Christ, as you appeared to your apostles, speaking peace and showing them the evidence of your ordeal and victory,
Appear to us now.
Be with us and among us
As we learn to live resurrected lives.

We see now that you always lived as though resurrection were possible
Even before you had done that work.
Your every breath, step, and touch,
Was a testament to the newness of life.

Breathe on us, Resurrected Christ
That we may receive your spirit. (1)
Breathe on us, Resurrected Christ,
That we may receive your peace.
Breathe on us, Resurrected Christ,
That we may receive your life.
Breathe on us, Resurrected Christ,
That we may be of one heart and soul. (2)

Teach us how to live with the hope and assurance
That new life is just around the corner.
Teach us how to live with the peace and trust,
That what looks to us like death is resurrection’s first act.

And may we walk this earth,
Speaking peace,
Fostering healing,
And living out resurrection.

Amen

1) John 20:22
2) Acts 4:32

 

Easter Day (Year B): Litany for Christ’s Life

God, in human form you lived on the earth,
Doing ordinary things;
But also doing extraordinary things:
Preaching, teaching, healing, calling.
You proclaimed the Good News from a human mouth:
The Kingdom of God is here!

Your good work and proclamation drew the attention of worldly powers
Who perceived it as a threat,
Because it was: The kingdom of God undoes everything it touches
And builds it again newly.

And, by the power of human sin, violence, and confusion -
You were killed -
A fate you did not resist, but instead accepted -
You were buried -
So that you might shame the powers, and teach them a new way:
You were resurrected!

Hallelujah! This changes everything!
Hallelujah!
From the enemies we love, to the suffering we accept -
Hallelujah!
From the violence we reject, to the justice-mercy-healing work we do -
Hallelujah!
This Way-of-God-come-down-to-earth completely rearranges our perspective!
Hallelujah!

For Christ has torn the temple down
And rebuilt it.
The Way of God came down.
The Way of God lives on in us.

Amen

 

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

Palm Sunday (Year B): Litany for the Passion

This litany follows along with the story of the Passion of Christ in Mark's Gospel. You can also find a litany for the Palms here.

God, you showed us who you are in the incarnation:
Yourself as human,
Coming down to earth, enduring human suffering,
Becoming a servant.

And despite your meekness
You offended the Powers;
You drew the wrath of religious and political establishments
You became their scapegoat.

You endured mocking and scorn,
A crown of thorns,
Brutal violence,
And went to death with forgiveness on your lips.

You, Great Heart, have shamed the Powers that killed you:
Exposed violence,
Eschewed vengeance,
And by acceptance, defeated death.

In refusing to repay violence with violence,
You showed us the Path of Peace.
In forgiving your enemies and abusers,
You demonstrated love the world had never seen.

Hosanna!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

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 4 (Year B): Litany for Sickness

This week's Lectionary selections include the account of Moses raising up a bronze serpent in the desert for the healing of the Hebrews, then the later comparison in John 3 of Christ being raised up; so that all who see him can receive healing.
 

God we are sick in so many ways -
     Some from trauma,
     Some from our own sinful ways,
     Some from hardship,
Not a one of us unaffected
By humanity’s broken choices.

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (1)
So was Christ lifted up (2);
That, by seeing him and becoming awake to his work
We might be healed (3).
For in him there is no condemnation
But healing for the nations (4).

By grace we have been rescued
It is the gift of God (5) --
From sickness and death
To wholeness and life --
You have raised us up with Christ
And seated us with him in the heavenly places (6).

We thank you, God, for your steadfast love
For your wonderful works to humankind:
You sent out your word to heal us
And delivered us from destruction (7).
We were asleep through our sickness.
You are making us awake with Christ (8).

Amen

  1. Numbers 21:8

  2. John 3:14

  3. John 3:15

  4. John 3:16,17

  5. Ephesians 2:8

  6. Ephesians 2:5,6

  7. Psalm 107:20,21

  8. Ephesians 2:1,5

*Spanish Translation* Letanía para la Tierra

Rick Behrens of Grandview Park Presbyterian Church in Kansas City contacted me wanting to translate some litanies for use in their bilingual services. A member of his team translated my "Litany for the Earth" into Spanish. They kindly shared their lovely translation.

Translated by Carmen Flores.

Dios, lamentamos la destrucción que se ha hecho
Que hemos permitido que se haga
Por nuestro silencio e inacción
Y por nuestra acción directa
Para la Tierra - Tu creación.
Perdónanos, oh Dios.

Incluso ahora nos damos cuenta de que nuestro hogar
Esta sufriendo
Sus habitantes están sufriendo
Por falta de agua limpia y aire
Falta de alimento vital
La falta de hábitat seguro.

Ayúdenos a tomar conciencia
De las necesidades de la humanidad,
De las necesidades de las generaciones venideras,
De las necesidades del suelo y las criaturas.

Reconocemos que tenemos una oportunidad:
Para elegir la paz sobre el beneficio
Para elegir la actividad sobre la complacencia
Para elegir un Bien Mayor sobre la conveniencia de hoy.

Despierta en nosotros una nueva compasión
Una nueva voluntad de cambiar,
Una nueva emoción para fomentar la comunidad,
Una nueva fe en la abundancia de tu Reino.
Un nuevo celo por establecer la Paz y la Justicia de Dios,
Un nuevo deseo de establecer la Tierra en derechos
Una nueva comprensión de la conectividad de todas las cosas,
Una nueva apreciación del don de la Tierra.

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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Lent 1 (Year B): Litany for Dust

God, we humble ourselves before you.
You are our creator.
We remember that we are dust
And to dust our bodies will someday return. (1)

We have made a mess of things here on earth
Have mercy on us.
Our humility cannot be too great,
Nor can your mercy.

Help us now as we do the inner work
Of repentance.
Help us now as we do the necessary work
Of lament.
Help us now as we do the quiet work
Of belief.

And may the lenten work we do: fasting, prayer, giving (2)
Go toward healing the earth.
May the repentance that starts in our hearts
Grow outward.
May our inner transformation bring with it
Heaven on earth:

Where violence and murder are no more.
Where injustice is no more.
Where poverty and hunger are no more.
Where pain and prison are no more.

Let us, mere dust,
Join with you in transforming the world.

Amen

  1. Genesis 3:18

  2. Matthew 6:2,5,16

Ash Wednesday: Litany for Fasting

This litany is based upon references from the Lectionary readings for Ash Wednesday, Year B.


God, it is for the sake of the New Kingdom which Christ began,
For the sake of Heaven,
That we practice the disciplines of faith.
That we fast (1)
That we give charitably (2)
That we pray. (3)

We do these in hopes that our minds will be transformed
Our hearts enlightened (4),
Making us more in sync with your work
And aligned with your mission.

We remember that we are made of dust
And will return to it.
We remember that out of our ashes
You bring beauty.
We remember that out of our mourning,
You begin gladness. (5)

We don’t fast for the sake of human ambition.
We fast for your eyes only, for your goals only (6):
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
to cancel every debt. (7)
For ourselves,
And for all people.

For our hope is in the new paradigm
Which you imagined and set in motion (8):
The beautiful way
The path of peace (9).

Amen
 

1) Matthew 6:16
2) Matthew 6:2
3) Matthew 6:5
4) Ephesians 1:18
5) Isaiah 61:13
6) Matthew 6:1
7) Isaiah 58:6
8) Isaiah 58:11,12
9) Luke 1:79