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.

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

Big News from Fran

Hello readers and pray-ers new and old!

I interrupt this litany of litanies to bring you some important updates about my work and the goings on at franpratt.com in 2018.

First: I want to celebrate. This site is 2 years old now, as of Christmas 2017. I've written hundreds of litanies and had the joy of spending hundreds of hours doing the things I like best: writing, thinking, and meditating. This effort has been a gift and a discipline; and this platform has been an outlet and a ministry. Many thanks to all of my readers and subscribers, and especially to those who have sent me notes of encouragement along the way. That support has been so meaningful to me. Your "likes" and "shares" matter, too. Thank you.

Next: I'm working on completing my first book of litanies, entitled _Call and Response: Litanies For Congregational Prayer_. My esteemed husband/designer is working on the artwork for it in the coming weeks, and I am wrapping up the last details. I'm a methodical worker, and I do this in my spare time, so it's not quick work. But it's worth it to me to think deeply about it. I plan to release it as a downloadable e-book, as well as on Kindle Direct Publishing. If there seems to be enough demand, we may do a limited print run (let me know if you'd want one!).

Finally: I'm launching a Patreon page soon. If you or your community has received benefit from my work, please consider becoming a patron. If you have no idea what Patreon is, check it out. As my vision for my work and the constraints of my actual work life have evolved, I'm being called to dig deeper and think more vocationally and long-term about this writing gig. The world is changing, my life is changing, and the litanies are changing me. My absolute least favorite thing to do is self-promote, but there is more work to be done and I will need support to continue it.

More to come, my friends. Many thanks and blessings.
Fran

Epiphany, Year B (Week 2): Litany for Being Seen

The account of the calling of Nathanael in John 1 (Lectionary for Second Sunday in Epiphany) has fascinated me for many years. I’ve never been able to definitively puzzle it out. But the narrative of it draws me in. I can imagine how Nathanael might have felt, waiting, hoping for something; perhaps all his life. Perhaps events in his life made him cynical. Perhaps he chose to watch from the edges, partially hidden. Perhaps he thought he’d never been seen, and had given up hope of being seen. Perhaps he’d lost so much he thought he’d never be found.  It seems like he and Jesus have a secret exchange here, buried in the dialogue. And whatever it is, it seems to be what he needs, because we can feel Nathanael’s heart open and his guard drop, simply from knowing that Jesus has seen him.  It occurs to me that this is part of what Epiphany means: we get in on the secret that God sees us as intimately as Christ saw Nathanael.
 

God, we are all hoping you’ll come looking for us,
Though our hearts might be hard --
Or maybe we have been running and hiding for a long time...
We want you to see us.

We want the Creator to pay attention to us
We want to be seen.
We want Someone, Something powerful to take an interest in us.
We want to be known.

Our deepest longing,
Our secret hope,
Our shadowy leaning,
Our mundane pain,
Our hidden dream,
Our forgotten spark:
These are things we long for a savior to save
For a flame to kindle.

You saw us all along:
Quietly observing
Keenly attending
Actively loving.

No matter what fig tree we hide beneath (1),
You see us.
No matter what bravado or sentiment we hide behind (2),
You see through.
We can rely on you to know the truth of us.
We can trust your mercy.

And, when we finally become aware of your merciful regard
We have seen the truth of you.
So, with gratitude and awe
We reflect your love.

Amen

1) John 1:48
2) John 1:46

Epiphany, Year B: Litany for the Wise

Epiphany is celebrated on January 6, after the twelve days of the Christmas feast. This litany incorporates references from the Matthew 2 and Isaiah 60 passages in the Lectionary for the feast of the Epiphany. I've also included some additional references.

God, we know that one way wisdom begins
Is in curiosity.
We know that the way to finding
Is by seeking.

Many people throughout history have been renowned for their wisdom
And remembered for their insight;
People who sought and studied
People who waited and looked.

And just as the Magi were guided by the heavens to the infant Christ,
So all who search for Christ will find him. (1)
Just as the ancient prophets and saints sought the wisdom of God
So all who search for wisdom will find her. (2)

Just as Christ has taught us about wisdom:
Ask and it will be given,
Seek and we shall find,
Knock and the door will be opened. (3)

Awaken in our hearts, O God
A desire for wisdom.
Awaken in our hearts, O God
A hunger for consciousness.
Awaken in our hearts, O God
A yearning for your kingdom.

Help us to keep our priorities straight:
To seek first your kingdom,
To trust that you have provided. (4)
And we will say to our people:
“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
Nations shall come to your light,
and rulers to the brightness of your dawn. (5)

Amen
 

1) Matthew 2:1-2
2) Proverbs 1:20-24
3) Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9
4) Matthew 6:33,34
5) Isaiah 60: 1&3

Litany for a New Year

God, in the past year
We have been tested and tried.
We have been given joys and pains in their measure
Laughter and sadness in their measure.
And now we look forward into a new year,
A new leg of our journey,
Knowing that not everything will be easy
Joy and pain, laughter and sadness will meet us in turn.

Help us to live this year with intention
With compassion
With attention
With assertiveness
With kindness toward all (including ourselves)
With purpose
With calm
With gratitude.

And whatever storms we must navigate
Whatever roads we must travel
Be present with us.
Speak to us of your mercy;
Speak to us of your love,
That we may in turn speak mercy and love into being
In this world
And in this year.

Amen

Christmas Year B: Litany for Light in Darkness

This litany contains references from the Lectionary selections for the First Sunday after Christmas Day, Year B, plus an additional reference from Christ's words in John 8.


God, we celebrate the season of Christmas
When darkness outweighs light,
When the year is steeped in dimness,
When day is overshadowed by night.

Even so, our eyes have seen your salvation (1)
Which you’ve prepared for us all --
From oldest to youngest,
Biggest to smallest,
Richest to poorest,
Healthiest to sickest,
Smartest to simplest,
Greatest to least --
The light of revelation
Has come for us all. (2)

Our inner thoughts will be no longer secret (3)
What is hidden will be revealed in its beam.
Our vindication shines out like the dawn,
Our salvation like a burning torch. (4)
All the earth
Is turning toward the light.

The light which came down from heaven
Is the Christ.
The light of the world has come
That we may never walk in darkness. (5)

Amen


1) Luke 2:30
2) Luke 2:31
3) Luke 2:35
4) Isaiah 62:1
5) John 8:12


 

Advent: Year B: Litany for Real Christmas

God, we can wait our whole lives for it to look like Christmas.
We can rely on tinsel and twinkle lights;
We can conjure up nostalgia with cookies;
We can spray cans of snow on trees;
We can fill stockings with miscellany;
    We think we can buy Christmas.

But this is what real Christmas looks like:
Mother laboring in a barn;
Babe in manger, sticky from birth;
Exhaustion, and milk-drunk sleep;
Stink of cattle, dung, and hay;
Starlight shining on crisp plains.

And the lingering question:
What do we do now?
Now that the world has become quiet
Now that everything is changed,
Now that we have seen a Great Light
Now that we have Wonder?

Christmas is sweaty work
And joyful
A long push
And glorious
Traveler’s grit
And graceful.

Christmas is subtle things reverberating
Past, present, future re-made.
Christmas is small things making meaning.
Hopeful waiting and arrival.
Christmas is homeless finding refuge ...

That is the Gloria the angels sing.

AMEN


 

Advent, Year B: Week 4: Litany for Deep Love

God, in the waiting and the tension
You are teaching us
The characteristics of True Love
Like a prism, it has many faces:
Patience,
Courage,
Gentleness,
Honesty,
Kindness,
Freedom, and more.

For years, for generations, we said
“God is Love,”
When what we really thought was
“God is Wrath.”
We thought of you as moody and prickly,
Distant and disembodied.

We know better now.
The Christ has taught us.

We like to imagine the night Love became Incarnate:
Clear,
Still,
Peaceful;
Perfect conditions for Love’s emergence
Perfect timing for Love’s expansion.

It’s in quiet that love has its purest voice.
It’s in stillness that love finds its rhythm.

And indeed, Love smiled upon us that day
Its every face beaming
A tiny voice bawling out love’s insistence
A tiny heart beating out love’s cadence.

Shhh, we can still hear it:
I love you. I love. I am love.

Amen

Advent Year B: Week 3: Litany for Deep Joy

God, all kinds of feelings pass through us in this life:
From happiness to sorrow and everything in between.
We can look around and see all kinds of reasons not to feel joyful
Until we learn:
Joy is not felt
Joy is found.

We straighten our spines,
Posturing ourselves toward joy;
Needing constant rediscovery
Until it becomes our nature.

Joy in pain
Joy in transformation
Joy in journeying
Joy in growth
Joy in parting
Joy in waiting

This is the joy that wells up from us:
The intentional song
The thoughtful gift
The word of comfort
The broken thing mended
The belly filled.

This is the joy given to us:
To love and be loved
To sacrifice and be blessed
To be lost and found.

Joyful, Joyful!
Rejoice, Rejoice!

Amen

 

Advent Year B: Week 2: Litany for Deep Peace

God, we are longing for a silent night --
For a reprieve
From noise and anxiety and hurry;
For a moment
Of space and time, empty yet full.
Gift us the gift of quiet.

This is the Peace:
Of baby’s breath
Of feathered wing
Of rustling leaf
Of sphere’s turn
Of light beam.

The heavenly peace in which we long to rest
To sweetly sleep
In safety and freedom
In certainty and repose.

We can smell the peace
Coming on the wind.
We can feel the peace
Arriving with the morning.
We can taste the peace
In the bread and cup.

We look in your direction, God
The Place from which peace comes;
For you are its Author and the home of its Prince,
And in your peace we dwell.

Amen

Advent Year B: Week 1: Litany for Deep Hope

God: as the light of day fades in the evening
We hope for the sunrise.
As leaves journey toward earth mulch
We hope for good soil.
As the winter deepens around us, hollowing to slumber
We hope for springtime.
As all around us sleep the sleep of the wrecked
We hope for healing.

We wait in wakefulness
Eyes open,
In readiness and expectation
For you to come;
For you to call us on a journey --
We wait awake.

On the dawn
Goodness comes.
With green shoots
Goodness comes.
From earliest darkness
Goodness comes.
From darkest soil
Goodness comes...

The Goodness that is dung and straw and lamb and shepherd and angel
Our God-With-Us;
The Goodness that is fresh babe -
Our Holy One;
The Goodness that is Messiah
Our humble king.

Year after year, winter after winter,
For Goodness we wait.

Amen





 

Litany for Deborahs

This week’s Lectionary reading includes an excerpt from Judges 4, in which we meet Deborah the judge, who leads her people to victory and freedom from oppression. This one is for the Prophets, the Preachers, the Unconventional Leaders, the Unexpected Authorities; the ones not subsidized by major organizations, who are doing their work despite difficulty, and caring for difficult people; the ones who are re-imagining the world.
 

God, these times are sifting wheat from chaff; separating sheep from goats; and differentiating true leaders from corrupt imposters.
The foundations of society rumble beneath our feet.
We lift to you those who can envision a future of justice and peace,
And will humbly lead in its direction.

For those who judge justly in these times
We pray to the Lord.
For those who keep faith alive when everyone else is locked in fear
We pray to the Lord.
For those who hold the hands of their people and stay with them as they fight
We pray to the Lord.
For those who know the enemy is already vanquished
We pray to the Lord.
For those who remain calm and steadfast in danger
We pray to the Lord.
For those who move boldly forward while other leaders linger in the past
We pray to the Lord.
For those whose leadership has come at great cost
We pray to the Lord.
For those who have had to defy convention to live out their calling
We pray to the Lord.
For those whom society disqualifies, but have risen up anyway
We pray to the Lord.
For those to whom resources come scantily or not at all, and must rely upon the hand of God
We pray to the Lord.
For those whose authority is constantly questioned and tested
We pray to the Lord.
For those who have known abuse and subjugation, and the depth of our need for justice
We pray to the Lord.
For those working day after day, quietly and without fanfare
We pray to the Lord.
For those whom the margins tried to edge out
We pray to the Lord.
For those who choose not to cast stones, but shine lights
We pray to the Lord.
For those who are imagining and embodying New Creation
We pray to the Lord.

May the Spirit of God be present with the prophets of our time.
May they have the Mind of Christ.

Amen

 

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 Stupid Fights

The other day my spouse and I had a Stupid Fight. You know, the fights you have sometimes with someone close to you that are about stupid nothing. The ones that happen all of a sudden, something just lights up - some irritant gets you in just the right spot while you’re washing dishes or a child. The ones that happen maybe when you’re both tired and oversensitive, or maybe there’s been an earlier, deeper offense; or maybe there’s some anxiety humming in the background. When whatever anger is below the surface of your calm finds a vent and erupts.

They are usually about the most mundane things, at least superficially. You can hardly remember why the conflict started. What you should have been able to shrug off or solve with one sentence becomes a conflagration. I most often observe these happening in the context of close relationships that are at some level “safe”, or at least longstanding.

Earlier on in our marriage, we would do Stupid Fights more often. Now we’ve learned a few things (not that we have it all sanctimoniously figured out, but 14.5 years is a fair amount of time for practice):

  • If your calm was that easy to crack, it was fake.
  • Either a) give vent to the emotion and let it play out without truly hurting each other, or b) someone take a walk.
  • The stupid fight is not the real issue, but it’s pointing to it.
  • The work is in the deeper, more vulnerable conversation that comes after, once the magma has cooled.

My wise friend Sharon says, “Emotions are messengers and messengers are angels.” I think she’s right. My experience with Stupid Fights is that they are often merciful messages telling us there is something needing attention.  They are opportunities for a meaningful conversation. The rub is this: the Stupid Fights are easy to blindly engage in and may even feel cathartic; but the real thing that’s beneath - the difficult challenging thing - is the one you’ve been avoiding. It’s the one that’s going to take some courage and vulnerability to talk about.

I’ve said this many times to friends who are getting married: Marriage is like a mirror that shows you your true self - you won’t be able to escape your own truth in it. But really I think any authentic relationship is a kind of mirror. It’s why church is always so messy: we are always revealing ourselves to each other whether we intend to or not, and generally trying to avoid what we don’t want to see.

All that to say: I’m a fan of Stupid Fights, with caveats. Have the Stupid Fight - fight well, without abuse! - then when it’s safe and the pressure is lower, do the real work the Stupid Fight was clueing you into.


God, we expend all kinds of energy avoiding ourselves.
We are difficult people.
Because we avoid our deepest selves, we tend to think you’re avoiding us too;
But you’re always close by.
You’re always mercifully holding up a mirror so we can see ourselves better.
Our best mirrors are our closest relationships.

We often expose each other’s weakness,
     Irritate each other,
     Make each other angry,
     Hurt each other.
We say things we don’t mean
And things we do.
We hold grudges.
We disagree.

When we are in conflict, give us the energy and courage to do the real work:
To be vulnerable
To share and listen
To resist shame
To let our anger and pain teach us
To explore our own souls
To be kind
To be merciful.

We embrace the messengers that point us to the deep issues:
Thank you for emotions.
Help us to hear the messages
And do the messy work of transformation.

Amen

Litany for Hatred

This week's Lectionary...

You shall not render an unjust judgment;
you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great:
with justice you shall judge your neighbor.
You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people,
and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor:
I am the LORD.
You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin;
you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself.
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people,
but you shall love your neighbor as yourself:
I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:15-18)

"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' (Matthew 22:36-39)

 

God, we acknowledge that, at some point in our lives, we all harbor hatred in our hearts.
Forgive us, oh God.
We all, at some point, render unjust judgements on others.
Forgive us, oh God.
Instead of loving our enemies, we have hated them.
Forgive us, oh God.
Instead of welcoming the stranger, we have shunned them.
Forgive us, oh God.
Instead of listening to the voices of those who are different from us, we have silenced them.
Forgive us, oh God.

We have sat silently by while others gave way to hatred.
We have hated and been hated.
We have forgotten that all humanity is our kin.
We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.

We have hated those who’ve hurt us
Those with whom we disagree politically or theologically
Those whose color, ethnicity, appearance, gender or orientation is different from ours.
Those whose sins are different from ours.
Those whose customs are different from ours.
Those whom we perceive as dangerous.

Scour our hearts free of hatred
Fill us full of love instead -
Lovingkindness from your heart.
Let no injustice remain among us.
Rescue us from the walls that divide us,
And bring us back to Holy Communion.
Amen

 

Litany for Opening Up to God

This prayer is taken from this week's Lectionary selections (Proper 24, Year A): Exodus 33, Isaiah 45 and Matthew 22.


God, your goodness is always parading past us.
We have only to look out for it. (1)
You are always being gracious to us.
We have only to realize it.
You are always being merciful to us.
We have only to internalize it.

You cover us with your hands and show us your glory - as much as we can handle,
If we only attune ourselves to you.

We don’t direct the flow of your grace and mercy.
You do.
We don’t decide who gets what.
You do.
You show no deference to anyone
You do not regard people with partiality.  (2)

Though we don’t know you,
You call us by name. (3)
Though we don’t know you,
There’s no one else but you. (4)

We set our minds toward knowing you.
We open the spaces of our hearts to you.
We set our bodies in stillness, that we might hear from you.
We open our spirits to meeting with you.

You are always gracious to appear,
Surprising us with your beauty.

Amen

1) Exodus 33:19
2) Matthew 22:16
3) Isaiah 45:4
4) Isaiah 45:5