Proper 20 (Year C): Litany for Economies

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This week’s Gospel reading from Luke 16 is one of those head-scratcher texts. The kind you read and know immediately that you don’t already have whatever context you probably need to understand the dynamics of. What do we do with Jesus when he says “make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes” ? I had to read several commentaries on the passage to get a start.

I was especially enlightened by Dr. Mitzi J. Smith’s commentary on this passage, which frames it as a slave parable and assumes the character of the “manager” to be an enslaved and oppressed person. She sagely reminds us that “wealth is generally built upon the backs of the enslaved, women, the poor, and the oppressed; that wealth for one usually presumes poverty for many. The larger the wealth gap in favor of a few, the more people are impoverished” (via Working Preacher).

Dr. Barbara Rossing suggests that Jesus is critiquing the capitalistic practice of charging interest on loans in her commentary, pointing out that “Luke is making connections between debt structures, the urgency of impending judgment, and the idol of Mammon [Wealth]” (via Working Preacher).

I’ve incorporated these ideas in this litany, as well as the overall themes in Luke’s gospel regarding wealth, greed, and what keeps us from an authentic spirituality and true discipleship (See last week’s text in which Jesus states: “None of you can become my disciple in you do not give up all your possessions” Luke 14:33). And drawn also from Amos 8 and Matthew 23.

Oh God, give us courage to examine the ways our lifestyles and cultural habits
Exploit the poorest among us.
Give us wisdom to see the ways we are complicit
In “trampling on the needy, and bringing ruin to the poor.”




Proper 19 (Year C): Litany for the One Percent

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This litany follows along with the Lectionary narrative in Luke 15.


God, we are observing our culture,
And watching its dynamic play out in real time.

We can see that our society is designed to take care of those in power
And maintain the privilege of those who have it.
By contrast we can see that the society that Christ imagines
Looks after the least powerful…

Proper 17 (Year C): Litany for Humble Hearts

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This litany is drawn from the Lectionary passages for Proper 17 of Ordinary Time, Year C. Specifically from Hebrews 13, Psalm 112, and Sirach 10.


God, we know that the beginning of human pride is to forsake you,
As when our hearts withdraw from our Creator.
You exalt the lowly,
And admire the humble



Proper 16 (Year C): Litany for Societal Injustice

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I don’t always take the Bible literally. But when I do, it’s Isaiah 58.

This passage of scripture, when set alongside the life and priorities demonstrated by Christ in the gospels, shows us a detailed picture of a just and thriving society. A society in which corporate avarice and greed, and the priorities of for-profit special interest groups are not the driving force of government or political policy. Instead mercy is. Instead love is. Care for the poor and the removal of unjust “yokes” (think, unjustly imprisoning black and brown folks for minor crimes. Think, lack of access to decent food and education for children. Think, losing your entire life savings because you got sick.) are the hallmarks of this society.

I think there are a lot of ways we can start moving toward this God-imagined ideal. We mostly haven’t tried any of them. If I have ever advocated for “Biblical values” (which I don’t usually because I mostly think that term is misused), these are them. Read em for yourself. I didn’t come up with this. This isn’t “liberal” or “conservative.” This is old-testament Judeo-Christian Orthodoxy validated by the new-testament Christ-man. We’ve just been ignoring it all this time.

Here’s a place to start praying:

Oh God, we live in a society in deep need of reform,
And days of violence and avarice.

Rescue us, O God, from becoming the hand of the wicked,
From being the unjust and cruel (Psalm 71:4).
Rescue us, O God, from our own selfishness,
From our own ego obsessions…





Proper 15 (Year C): Litany for Fire

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A note to Patrons: I have made this litany widely available to anyone who wishes to read or use it. I occasionally do this when a litany is particularly resonant for a moment in time. Thank you for your support, which allows me to continue this output and contribution to the prayers of the people.

“Is not my word like a fire, says the LORD, like a hammer that breaks rock in pieces?”

I believe that the message of this week’s Lectionary, of the fire and hammer of God, which are mercy and restorative justice, is THE message our society needs in this moment. We are protecting the gun lobby over vulnerable school children. We are protecting agribusiness over the well-being of the planet and over and above human thriving.* We are protecting corporate profits and political interests to the detriment of the poor and powerless. We are protecting white supremacy and status over our God-given duty to regard every human life, every human black and brown body, as beloved and sacred. This is the story of our country right now. This is the legacy we are living. 

And the cure, the antidote, is the mercy and restorative justice of God. The Fire and the Hammer. The holy fire that Christ says he “came to bring ... to the earth,” and he says, “how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49). 

This is a prayer of confession and contrition. This is where we begin. Opening our eyes to our communal complicity, and changing our minds (repenting) about how we will continue on. This is heart-centered work. This in inconvenient work. This is uncomfortable work. Standing in the midst of holy fire is bound to be difficult. 



God, as a society we have turned blind eyes 
And deaf ears to the poor.
We can hear the cries of the needy,
See the struggle of the lowly and destitute.
How the weak and the orphan long for justice!
How the defenseless are in need of rescue (1)!


We confess that we have centered our policies
On the success of profit-margins.
We confess that we have protected the interests of corporations and the wealthy
Over the well-being of Earth’s most vulnerable inhabitants.**
We confess that we have judged unjustly
And show partiality to the wicked (2).
We confess that much of our economy and material wealth
Is due to exploitation of human and natural resources.

We have not done our God-given duty of creation stewardship.
We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.
We have not upheld righteous standards.
We have not pursued justice and mercy for all. 

Forgive us, oh God, and lead us on the path of peace.
Restore us to your justice.
Bring us into the community of heaven.
Be merciful to us, oh God. 

For your word is like a fire,
Like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces (3). 
Break our hardened hearts;
Burn down our wicked ways.

Let the fire that Christ brings kindle in our hearts (4),
Igniting flames of justice and peace-making,
Of shifting old, unhelpful paradigms,
Of right-action and reform. 

Let the ethics and policies of heaven come to earth. 
Be merciful to us, oh God. Amen



*watch the documentary “Cowspiracy” for more info on this topic

**inhabitants, both human, animal, and plant-life

  1. Psalm 82:3,4

  2. Psalm 82:2

  3. Jeremiah 23:29

  4. Luke 12:49



Proper 14 (Year C): Litany for Doing Good

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It is very rare that I miss a Lectionary litany. But I did last week. Sorry to those who were waiting for it. I had a wicked ear infection, limited childcare, and was bedraggled and behind on everything. I’ll go back and make it up, but in the meanwhile, here’s this week’s offering, available to Patrons at the $3 level.

Coming from Luke 12, Psalm 33, Psalm 50, and Isaiah 1, this one is centered around our work for justice and peace in this world, reflecting the generosity of God. Drop me a line if you use it in your gathering, or in your solo devotions or whatnot. I love to hear how this work is landing.


Oh God, help us to not be afraid.
Help us to have faith in your love.
For we know that with you is every blessing your realm contains,
And you give us good gifts…



Proper 12 (Year C): Litany for Prayerful Living

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This week I’m working on a sermon on the gospel Lectionary of Luke 11:1-13, Luke’s account of the Lord’s Prayer and Christ’s comments on prayer in general. My mind is going to the truth I learn over and over again: that prayer is formational, and not just intercessory. These days, the best definition of prayer I can come up with is this: living attentively to God. And this both forms us in our character and soul and gives us rapport with God so that we may ask for what we want and need. When the disciples ask him to teach them how to pray, he teaches them how to live. 


Oh God, teach us how to live attentively to you.
Teach us how to pray (1).
For by our attention to you,
We learn how to be in the world. 

Proper 11 (Year C): Litany for Reconciling All Things

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This week's Lectionary passages contain many themes, but the one that stood out to me most was this idea of Christ "reconciling all things" from Colossians 1. I was just having a discussion with friends about having a posture of life that "accepts what is," as the Buddhists put it; but that theme resonates in Christ's work of forgiveness and reconciliation also.

We can observe that the people we meet who have the most resilience and ability to accept suffering and change seem to be the ones who can tap into this quality of forgiving what is, accepting reality, and lovingly working within it. That's where my mind is in this litany, in the reconciling of all polarities, dualities, and seeming contradictions. I hope it resonates for you and your community also.

God, we are learning that life is full of unexpected challenges
And unexpected gifts.
With you, there’s surprise in deepest disappointment
Hidden beauty even in trial…

Proper 10 (Year C): Litany for Showing Mercy

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This week’s Litany brings in themes from various parts of this week’s Lectionary selections: the Colossians, Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Luke passages. The Gospel story is that of the Good Samaritan showing mercy to the stranger. I love seeing how the themes intertwine some weeks. This one is coming right at the perfect time for us as a national and global community. 


God, we know that your word is not too hard for us
Nor is it far away,
And that we have been transferred into the community
Of your beloved Son, Christ Jesus,
In whom forgiveness is abundant
And mercy is foremost

Litany for Liberation

This week we celebrate Juneteenth, or Freedom Day. On June 19th 1865 the last remaining slaves were freed after the end of the Civil War. It’s a day in which we remember the suffering of enslaved Black people in this country, celebrate their emancipation, and also see afresh how far freedom has yet to go here. Police and vigilante brutality, the Prison-Industrial Complex, income and wealth inequality, maternal health outcomes for Black women - just a few of the markers by which we know that Shalom has not yet arrived in full. So we keep working.

Those slaves, and those unjustly imprisoned today were and are in overt bondage. But the powers that cause those bondages are subtler. And the ways those same forces have a stranglehold on society are subtler, and affect us all. We aren’t free until we’re all free.

This week’s Gospel selection is that of the Gerasene Demoniac, whom Jesus frees from a legion of demons who elect to go into a pack of pigs rather than into the void. As a result, the community loses a profitable asset and food source and are upset. Instead of celebrating the freedom of their brother, they are grumbling about the loss of their bottom line. Jesus offers them a new paradigm, a new value system in which Shalom might thrive, but they’re too affronted to see it. So they ask Jesus to go away; they don’t want his brand of freedom.

It strikes me how similar we are in U.S. society: unwilling to give up profit, comfort, security, predictability, etc. in order to reach a new level of liberation and Shalom for all. Willing to let a brother wither away in the tombs. Go away Jesus, we’d rather keep our addiction to fossil fuels, our cheap labor, and our corporate profits, than make sure the marginalized are cared for and the poor are fed and the prisoners are freed. We are the Gerasenes who send Jesus packing. Kyrie Eleison.

So that’s where I’m coming from with this litany. Thinking about the forces that subtly bind us, keeping us from God’s peace.


God, we realize we are bound in so many ways,
By powers and forces we can’t always see or touch,
But which pressure and confuse us anyway.
This world is full of prisons of humanity’s own making.

Christ, in his love, comes along willing to free us,
But we aren’t always willing to be freed. ..


Pentecost (Year C): Litany for Oneness

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The Day of Pentecost in the Church Calendar marks the beginning of a new season: The season of Pentecost. From Eastertide and resurrection, to Ascension (the feast of Ascension was this past week), and now to the revealing (in a more public way than was revealed in John 20) of the Spirit and the spirit's loving essence of inclusion and enfolding of many into divine Oneness. Just exactly as Jesus had prayed in last week's Lectionary Gospel passage: "that they may be one."

This litany is drawn from John 14 and Psalm 104, Lectionary selections for Pentecost, Year C.

God, you have always been showing us what Oneness looks like
First in Nature.
Then in Christ.
Now in the Spirit. 

Eastertide 7: Litany for Resurrection Unity

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I’m ruminating on Jesus prayer/plea to Yahweh in John 17 (this week's Lectionary Gospel selection) for unity among his followers and among future generations of followers. I believe that, as Christ requested, we are one with God, invited into the Trinity, included in action and the love. In Christ, we learn what God looks like: relational, loving, unifying, inclusive. So I’m inviting us to pray into Jesus’ vision for unity and a new paradigm of being together in the world. And into the "right action" that true unity and shared love will reliably provoke us to.


God, we know that with the beginning of Resurrection,
Whose first fruit was Christ Jesus,
A new paradigm was established and articulated in the world -
A whole host of new possibilities -
One of the best of which is the hope of unity
Which Christ prayed and advocated for

Eastertide 6 (Year C): Litany for Resurrection Glory

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Now here’s a Christian-ese word: glory. Ok. If you are off-put by this word because it has lost its meaning for you, let me tell you how I think of it: Beauty and Light. That’s all. The intense beauty and light that emanates from the Source of all that is.  

God, the light of your glory shines on all humanity
And on all creation.
The beauty and light that you generate
Lights our path,
Shines on our faces,
Glows from within us…

Eastertide 5 (Year C): Litany for Resurrection Belonging

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I’m being bowled over newly by this week’s Lectionary selection. In part because I’m also simultaneously reading Richard Rohr’s newest book _The Universal Christ_, so I’m already riding Saint Peter’s wave in Acts 11. Peter has a dream that God tells him to eat food (animals, in this case) that his Jewish faith considers unclean or taboo, and subsequently gets a lesson in the universality of God’s love and presence. No race or people group is outside the scope of the Creator’s love and image. 

And then the Psalm for the week (149) reinforces the message, lumping in the heavenly bodies, the weather phenomena, landscapes, animals and creepy crawly things; with people of all descriptions, ages, and power-levels - in short EVERYTHING - together as things that reflect the divine image. Things that “praise” God. 

Stones sing God’s song. Animals and earth sing God’s song. People sing God’s song. Black people. Brown people. White people. Male people. Female people. Non-binary people. Industrialized people. Nomadic people. Indigenous people. And on and on. Every unique characteristic is glory. Everything belongs inside resurrection. 


God, we know that the Christ was already here,
Even before Jesus came along (1).
And now that Christ was revealed in human form,
We know he’s in us….

Eastertide 2, 3, 4 (Year C)

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Hello folks,
I’m preparing ahead for some upcoming travel and conferencing, so Lectionary litanies for the second thru fourth Sundays of Easter are up on Patreon. I’m really liking how this “Resurrection” Series is turning out.

LITANY FOR RESURRECTION FLOW
LITANY FOR RESURRECTION WORK
LITANY FOR RESURRECTION PROGRESS
LITANY FOR RESURRECTION EXPANSION

I think I’m perhaps doing some of my best work. You can tell me what you think if you’d like to hop on my Patreon train.

Easter Sunday (Year C): Litany for Resurrection Flow

Hello! I’m happy to be sharing my Easter Sunday, which I happen to really like this year. If you haven’t taken advantage of my Patreon, it’s easy to jump in. Thanks for reading. And may the Peace of
Christ be upon you this Holy Week.

Oh God, we can feel the joy and wonder of Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary (1)
As they shared the story of the empty tomb.
We share in their excitement, not because of pious ideas about personal salvation,
But because the resurrection they preached is still happening now!

Palm Sunday (Year C): Litany for Shouting Stones

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This week is Palm Sunday, and the Lectionary offers two options. I'm using Liturgy of the Palms references for this prayer. Enjoy, and if you have a second, please let me know how this Lent series has gone for you and your community. Thanks!

God, we throw down our cloaks
And raise up shouting praise
Because of the beauty of Christ
And his deeds of power


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Lent 5 (Year C): Litany for Wilderness

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This week's litany follows along with the Lectionary texts for week 5 of Lent. A strong theme of wilderness, persistence, and joyful homecoming threads through these texts. I hope you're all leaning in to the Lenten journey in some way this year - letting the wilderness Christ leads you into shape your soul and your practice, offering you a new way of being. 


In Lent, we follow Christ out to wilderness places.
We deny ourselves the comforts that numb us.
We rid ourselves of the distractions that consume us.
We stand aside to let you realign us to your way…

Thanks for following along. If you haven’t grabbed a copy of my book, may I suggest that it makes a great Easter gift :) Also, I’m on instagram @thelitanist ! come join in the contemplative fun going on there! Much love to all you readers and pray-ers out there embodying Divine Love and Light.

f

Lent 4 (Year C): Litany for Wandering

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Hey friends!
Before I get into the litany for this week, I want to say thank you thank you thank you for being on this journey with me. March has been the biggest month ever for me in terms of new patrons, and I am so stinking grateful. Welcome to new friends in this space! May it be a blessing to you! May it throw you a life-raft on a sinking day! May it jolt you with encouragement in a distressing moment! May it offer you sustenance when you're empty! Amen, Amen. Also, thanks for your patience while I was on vacation last week. After a rough month, I needed the break to stoke my curiosity and creativity, and hallelujah the LORD provides.

Ok, this week's Lectionary is juicy! The prodigal son. Psalm 32. The beautiful "new creation" language in 2 Corinthians 5. Week 1 we explored Weakness, week 2 Loneliness, week 3 Longing, and now Wandering. (preview: next week we're pondering "Wilderness.) So basically the hard parts of the life of faith. Which is what Lent is for - uncovering our blindness, exposing our need and vulnerability, urging us toward repentance. It's not supposed to be fun, but it is necessary for our growth.


God, like the prodigal son we have wandered far
From Love’s Center (1).
We are prodigal children,
All of us…

Also, if you’re unsure how to properly attribute a litany when you’re using it congregationally, please check out this post. And if you haven’t already snagged a copy for yourself, a minister, or a friend, you can purchase my book here. 

May you find more joy, peace, and love during your Lenten journey.
Fran


Lent 3 (Year C): Litany for Longing

Hello all.  I'll be on spring break vacation with my family next week and away from my desk. So here is next week's Lent litany. Leaning into the longing of the Lenten Lectionary :) 


O God, you are our God,
We seek you, our souls thirst for you;
Our flesh faints for you,
As in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (1)