Litany for the Border

If you're unaware of what's happening currently at the US Border, please read up on it. And pray.
 

Oh God, we lament the trauma that is happening to asylum seekers at the U.S. Border
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for an end to separation of families, the desperation of parents and children, and the degradation of their dignity.
Lord, have mercy.

We lament the violence and corruption that is forcing these immigrants to leave their home countries.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for an end to corrupt government, violent power structures, and poor living conditions in Central America.
Lord, have mercy.

We lament the policy decisions enacted by our own U.S. leadership that have led to the traumatizing of children and infants.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for humane and just legislation to be passed by congress immediately.
Lord, have mercy.

We lament our own societal apathy, our tendency to be blind and uncaring toward the alien, the refugee, the orphan, the widow.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for the reformation of our own hearts, that we may have the compassion and wisdom of Christ.
Lord, have mercy.

For peace in Central America,
We pray to the Lord.
For humane practices at our borders,
We pray to the Lord.
For just and compassionate government here at home,
We pray to the Lord.
For loving hearts toward all seeking safety,
We pray to the Lord.  

May the love of Christ compel and bind us, from the poorest and most powerless to the most privileged and powerful.
May the light of Christ shine upon us all. Amen

Litany for God Our Father

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This is a companion litany to Litany for God Our Mother.


God, who created fathers
And invented fathering,
Help us to see you more completely,
In your wholeness.

For those of us who don’t have fathers
Be our good father.
For those of us who have painful relationships with our fathers,
Be our good father.
For those of us who are fathers of children,
Be our good father.
For those of us who are spiritual fathers,
Be our good father.
For those of us whose ideas about fathering need reinventing,
Be our good father.

We know that for you, being a good father does not mean toxic masculinity,
Or domination,
But that you care for us with exceeding kindness,
     With attentiveness (1),
     With celebration (2),
     With generosity (3),
     With surrounding (4),
     With provision (5),
     With emotion (6),
     With love (7).

We know that you are father, mother, friend, helper
Lover of our souls;
Your love is constantly exceeding our expectations,
And redefining our terms.

May we reflect your fathering love,
Living in light of your example. Amen

1)Isaiah 65:24
2) Luke 15:22-23
3) Timothy 6:17
4) Psalm 32:7
5) Luke 11:11
6) Psalm 86:15, Zephaniah 3:17

Epiphany, Year B (Week 5): Litany for Healing

God, we look to you as Healer.
Heal us, oh God.

We look to the message of Christ for our hope:
The Kingdom, the Way of God is near.
You give power to the faint,
And strengthen the powerless. (1)
You heal the brokenhearted
And bind up their wounds. (2).

From our physical infirmities
Heal us, oh God.
From our spiritual blindness,
Heal us, oh God.
From our emotional woundedness,
Heal us, oh God.
From our weakness and corruption,
Heal us, oh God.
From our mental illnesses,
Heal us, oh God.
From our brokenness and trauma,
Heal us, oh God.
From our carelessness and apathy,
Heal us, oh God.
From our generational burdens,
Heal us, oh God.
From our hatred and violence,
Heal us, oh God.

Those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (3)

We wait for you,
God, our healer.
Amen.

 

  1. Isaiah 40:29

  2. Psalm 147:3

  3. Isaiah 40:31

A Litany for Thanksgiving

I wrote this litany last year, before I had this site. I've written more litanies on the topic of gratitude than any other topic, and I hope it stays that way. I hope I can always hang on to a grateful heart.

Recently I tweeted this to my 54 twitter followers:
"If I die and the words "Jesus," "equality," and "prayer" don't appear in my epitaph, you'll all know I didn't fulfill my calling."

Now I think I would amend that to include the word "gratitude."

 


To the God of heaven and earth, creator of people and creatures, author of seasons and of time:
We give thanks.
In this season of reflection, we look back over our lives and over the year past, and we acknowledge the ways that you have shaped us.
We give thanks.
We acknowledge the ways that things have not been perfect, and we have fallen short.
We give thanks.
We reflect on the difficulties we have encountered, and the sorrows we’ve borne.
We give thanks.
We remember the times you have seemed near to us, and the times we have been so engrossed in our own lives that we couldn’t sense your presence.
We give thanks.
We confess those times we have failed to help, and missed opportunities to love.
We give thanks.

In joy and in sorrow, in triumph and in failure,
We give thanks.
In prosperity and in loss, in ease and in difficulty,
We give thanks.

We rest in the knowledge that your purposes are accomplished both with and despite us, and we understand that every part of our journey is an opportunity for us to grow.
We give thanks.
We rest in the peace of your kindness and soak up your overflowing love, which is always directed toward us, regardless of whether we are willing to receive it.
We give thanks.

May we go forward, walking in that same kindness, passing peace to all we meet, and loving generously and intentionally.
We give thanks.
And may gratitude be reaped and sown in our hearts
We give thanks.

Amen

 

 

Litany for Endurance

The Lectionary text from the Gospels for November 13, 2016 is Luke 21:5-19. The Lectionary is for me a rich source of inspiration on this Election Day Eve.


God, Help us to remain calm in troubled waters,
When things to fear are real or imagined.

When we are tested (1),
Help us to endure.
When we are criticized,
Help us to endure.
When we are misunderstood,
Help us to endure.
When we miss the mark,
Help us to endure.
When things are loud around us,
Help us to endure.
When peace seems impossible,
Help us to endure.
When common ground feels like compromise,
Help us to endure.
When we are thwarted,
Help us to endure.
When discouragement seems like the only reasonable response.
Help us to endure.
When we are tempted to prepare our defense (1),
Help us to endure.
When those we love feel like enemies,
Help us to endure.
When our enemies are hard to love,
Help us to endure.

We know that we gain our souls
By quiet, uncomplaining endurance.
We know that endurance
Expands our souls.

In all things,
May we have the mind of Christ.

Amen


(1) James 1:2-3  “testing… produces perseverance.”

(2) Luke 21:14 “Make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance.”


 

Litany for Transformation

The Lectionary text from the Gospels for October 30, 2016 is from Luke 19:1-10. This prayer is based upon, and an adjunct to a reading of that passage.

God, transformer of persons,
We look to you.

May we have the enthusiasm of Zacchaeus
We want to see you.
May we be willing to go out of our way, to climb obstacles to behold you.
We want to see you.
May we be confident in our stature, our status as Your Beloved.
We want to see you.
May we count the Kingdom as our highest treasure.
We want to see you.
May we be willing to give away all, possessions and power, to receive the riches of grace.
We want to see you.

May we have the openness of Christ, who was a guest of sinners.
We want to be like you.
May we have the mind of Christ, who sought out the lost.
We want to be like you.
May we have the priorities of Christ, who disregarded those who grumbled at his ways.
We want to be like you.
May we have the compassion of Christ, who loved all the poor and powerless.
We want to be like you.
May we have the grace of Christ, who forgave even those who abused their power.
We want to be like you.

We, who with unveiled faces, contemplate the Lord’s glory
Are being transformed into his image (1).
As we gaze upon Christ,
We are transformed.

Amen.

(1) 2 Cor 3:18
 

Litany for Presence

I mentioned a couple of litanies ago that I think Contemplative faith has a lot to offer us in terms of ways to order ourselves so that we remain hopeful. Since about 2012, I have been delving progressively more deeply into contemplative faith, and discovering that the mystics have found an entirely other way to be faithful, one not often found in conventional church teaching today. We who are stuck in our ruts of dualistic thinking, of us and them, of right and left, of either/or, just don’t have the framework for contemplation; and to me this seems more evident than ever.

Richard Rohr says that “Contemplatives refuse to create false dichotomies, dividing the field for the sake of the quick comfort of their ego. They do not rush to polarity thinking to take away their mental anxiety… Contemplation refuses to be reductionistic. Contemplation is an exercise in keeping your heart and mind spaces open long enough for the mind to see other hidden material” (1).

I just think if there were ever a time that our culture could use a healthy dose of non-dualistic, contemplative thinking, it’s this election cycle. I see myself and so many of us expending so much energy on judgement and control that we have no silence left. We are busy categorizing, so we have lost the thread of the narrative, the bigger picture of the Presence of God here and now, within and among us, redeeming and working through everything.

If you’d like to dip a toe into contemplation, here is a prayer to get you started.


God:
(ALL:) You are here.
We quiet ourselves now, that we may know more deeply
You are here.
We don’t have to ask for your presence.
You are here.
We don’t have to earn your presence.
You are here.

Help us to find the quiet spaces within ourselves.
You are here.
Help us to see more widely and farther.
You are here.
Help us to become more aligned with your nature.
You are here.

With compassion
You are here.
With benevolence
You are here.
With peace
You are here.
With love
You are here.

We breathe in.
You are here.
We breathe out.
You are here.

Amen


(1) Rohr, Richard. _The Naked Now_ pg 34

 

Litany for Rebuke

Edit: Saturday morning 7/9/16: This litany was written on Thursday before the shooting in Dallas Thursday night. I was feeling angry and grieved when I wrote it. More bad things have happened since then. I still feel angry and grieved and confused and baffled and sad, and more aware than ever of ways that I AM THE PERSON I'M REBUKING. I am complicit. I can change in ways I haven't yet perceived are necessary for me to change. By simple apathy and laziness, I have been an enemy of peace. I need rebuke and correction. I need a fresh dose of perspective and compassion and grace and love. I am still mad at those cops who killed Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile and all the others who have been unjustly put to death. I am still mad at the shooter who killed 5 police officers in Dallas. I'm mad and I want things to change and I want to change. So I pray the traditional orthodox Jesus Prayer:
 


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

 

You who are enemies of peace;
We rebuke you.
You who are wolves in sheep's clothing;
We rebuke you.
You who govern masses and only consider the interests of a few;
We rebuke you.
You who pay lip service to justice but do evil;
We rebuke you.
You who kill without thinking and have no regard for human life;
We rebuke you.
You who are enslaved to fear of a certain type of person;
We rebuke you.
You who allow evil and corruption and ignore what is right;
We rebuke you.
You who have no language but violence;
We rebuke you.
You who worship money and power over others;
We rebuke you.
You who perpetuate injustice;
We rebuke you.
You who have decided that the white, the straight, the affluent; are more deserving of life than the black, the gay, the poor;
We rebuke you.
You who shed innocent blood;
We rebuke you.
You who choose to remain enemies even while we offer peace;
We rebuke you.

We are all brought to shame by your actions.
We are all brought to grief by your violence.
We are all brought to rage by your power over our society.
We are all brought to repentance by your misdeeds.

We refuse to swallow your lies.
We refuse to bend to your way of violence and power-hunger.
We refuse to be blinded by your distorted version of prosperity.
We refuse to allow violence and fear to found false peace.

We offer you forgiveness and reconciliation.
We offer you a place at our table, generosity instead of greed.
We offer you one cheek, then another.
We offer you our cloaks, and shelter from the storm.
We offer you loaves and fishes, though you’ve given us a snake.
We offer you the Way of Love, an antidote to hatred.
We offer you the Way of Peace, an antidote to violence.
We offer you the body and blood of Christ, who is able to heal your disease.

Come now, Christ, in your mercy and in your peace, in the dazzling beauty of your love, in the creativity of your re-imagining this world, in the justice of your Kingdom.
Amen

A Bilingual Litany: Litany for Gracias

The church where I attend and lead worship is comprised of about 40% Spanish speakers. Because of this, and because we want to cultivate a diverse and welcoming community, we try to include Spanish elements in our services, usually in songs. This is my first bilingual litany. I have begun simply: with gratitude, the topic on which I have written more litanies than any other. I believe we suffer when we neglect gratitude, and that gratitude leads to good things in our lives and in our hearts. I also suspect that there is something transcendant, something heart-unlocking, in speaking words of praise and gratitude to God in languages not native to us. May we all cultivate hearts that value diversity and the universality of God's kingdom.

For those non-Spanish speakers, pronunciation and translation:
Santo Dios: SAN-toe dee-ose (Holy God)
Te damos gracias: Tay DA-mose GRA-see-us (We give you thanks)
Nuestra
Salvación: noo-AY-strah sal-vah-see-OHN (Our salvation)
Nuestra Esperanza: noo-AY-strah ess-pear-AHN-zah (Our hope)

 

Holy God,
Santo Dios.
We enter into Your presence with thanksgiving and praise.
Te damos gracias.

We look to You for our provision, for our daily bread.
Te damos gracias.
We look to You for love, acceptance, and identity.
Te damos gracias.
We look to You for wisdom, correction, and insight.
Te damos gracias.

We thank You for your unending care and patience with us.
Te damos gracias.
We thank You for your power in our weakness.
Te damos gracias.
We thank You for your grace and mercy toward us.
Te damos gracias.

We thank you for sending the Son, the Messiah: Jesus.
Nuestra Salvación.
We thank you for the gift of Your spirit.
Nuestra Esperanza.

You are the Source of Life, all goodness is in You.
Te damos gracias, Señor.

Amen

Ascension Day: Litany for Sending

Ascension Day, or Holy Thursday, is the day in the liturgical calendar in which the church celebrates the ascension of Christ into heaven forty days after his resurrection. The gospels and the book of Acts give various versions of Jesus' words to the disciples just prior to his ascension. Acts records him saying "...When the Holy Spirit comes on you... you will be my witnesses... to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). The Great Commission is recorded in Matthew, in which Jesus instructs his followers to "...go and make disciples of all nations" (Matt 28:19). This litany references the Great Commission as well as instructions given in the Sermon on the Mount.

 

Jesus, You came into the world to restore us to our rightful place as children of God.
You are the light of the world.
We do not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.
You are the light of the world.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to you.
You are the light of the world.

After your resurrection you ascended into heaven, leaving us instruction to go and make disciples...
Make us a light to the world.
To share the Good News with all creation…
Make us a light to the world.
To show compassion for the poor and needy…
Make us a light to the world.
To be the salt of the earth, and the light of the world.
Make us a light to the world.

We celebrate your resurrection, your ascension, and your place at the right hand of God.
We live in the light of Christ.
We await your return, and rely upon the Holy Spirit, our helper.
We live in the light of Christ.
We are your church, your body on earth, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.
We live in the light of Christ.

Amen


 

Litany for Gratitude 2 + The Dark Side of Gratitude

Over on my Instagram (@franniep) this month I've been sharing a few things each day for which I'm grateful. Big or small, impactful or trivial, I'm just naming things I'm grateful for. This has had some surprising effects. For one, it's getting easier each day to put on my gratitude glasses and see things I'm thankful for. It's getting easier to sit with gratitude and allow it to change my outlook on life.

But for all I think that gratitude is an indispensable part of a healthy outlook, necessary to counteract cynicism and enlarge our picture of God, I think gratitude might have a dark side. I've caught myself several times feeling guilty for feeling gratitude. So many people don't have the privileges I have, the freedoms, their basic needs met. So many have kids who aren't in vibrant health, or family situations that are painful or difficult. Isn't it smug and prideful of me to dwell on all my blessings, list them out, take photos of them and post them on social media, acknowledge them and allow myself the pleasure of enjoying them?

It kind of is, isn't it?

Furthermore I've been in some painful, messy places in life, and was I very good at practicing gratitude during those times? Not hardly. Isn't gratitude supposed to be a good clean feeling, black and white, no gray allowed? Isn't it mean to rub gratitude in the face of people in pain?

It kind of is. No one told me it would be so messy.

When I let my thoughts come full circle, I think it would be worse to not be grateful. It would be worse to not enjoy and participate in feasting on life whenever the opportunity arises. It would be small-hearted and cynical to not assume a posture of gratitude. It would be worse to deny the mercy of God whenever we are offered it.

This is a thing the discipline of gratitude does: it opens our eyes. Both to our blessing and to our privilege, to our undeserving and our responsibility, to our smallness and our preciousness. A posture of gratitude can illuminate that gray area between abundance and poverty, and inform our perception of them. It can illuminate joy as well as joy's pesky sidekick: suffering.

And also, gratitude gets easier. The more we do it, the more naturally we revert to it. I think we should practice it whenever we can if we hope to have any capacity for it at all when suffering comes. So to that end, I've written us a prayer to practice with, and hopefully help us wear grooves of gratitude in our hearts so that we can find them by touch, even in the dark.

I’ve kept to a simple refrain in this instance for congregational ease, but I have another Litany for Gratitude here.

 

Great God, You created the good earth and all its creatures, the heavens and all they contain.
We give thanks.
You give us life. You give us consciousness and choices. You give us love.
We give thanks.

For the blessings of family, friendships, and worldly provision,
We give thanks.
For the blessings of talent, aptitude, and meaningful work,
We give thanks.
For the blessings of food, wine, and good conversation, those times of feast and enjoyment,
We give thanks.
For the blessings of trivial pleasures, small gifts meant for our happiness,
We give thanks.
For the blessings of expression, song, art, human ingenuity, and creativity,
We give thanks.
For the blessings of peace that come from knowing You,
We give thanks.

When we survive mishaps
We give thanks.
When we endure consequences and pain
We give thanks.
When we must combat evil with goodness and love
We give thanks.
When we must deny ourselves, bear burdens, and obey
We give thanks.
When we must suffer loss and disappointment
We give thanks.
When me must come to the end of our physical lives
We give thanks.

When we chose violence and rebellion, you made a way to recover us.
We give thanks.
The way is Christ: the true and full, shining image of Your love.
We give thanks.
For Jesus Christ and the Kingdom he began here, in which You invite us to participate,
We give thanks.
And for the experience of living on earth, in all its paradoxes and mingling of joy and suffering,
We give thanks.

Amen.



 

Litany for Retreat

*This litany was originally written for a retreat for gathered worship leaders in the Vineyard movement, of which I am a part. The congregational refrain is the simple "hallelujah." I think this lends itself to various types of retreats for both leaders and lay-folk.

Oh God, we are reminded that You are the Author of work, rest, and play.
Hallelujah
We recognize our being made in Your image, having need of all three.
Hallelujah
With consciousness and intention, we now set aside our daily tasks and make space for relaxation, revival, and enjoyment.
Hallelujah
We breathe deeply of Your presence, and drink deeply of Your delight.
Hallelujah
We pray for open ears and soft hearts, that we might hear Your renewed calling on our lives and be willing to accept it.
Hallelujah
We soak in the freedom and joy of being among people who share in our passions.
Hallelujah
May we emerge from our respite with clean hands, pure hearts, and steadfast spirits.
Hallelujah
At the end of our rest, may we re-enter our ministries with refreshed balance, purpose, energy, and clarity.
Hallelujah

Amen

Litany for God's Presence in Suffering

*I originally wrote this litany for a retreat for pastors in difficulty or crisis. I anticipated that there would be no way of projecting the prayer onto a screen, so I made the congregational response the simple "You are with us." I've found that sometimes these simple responses are the most profound in context, giving the congregation a chance to decide if they really mean what they are saying and allow it to take root in their consciousness.

Oh God, we remember now Christ in His suffering, and echo the feeling in His words: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”
We remember:
You are with us.
We remember Christ tempted in the desert, Christ suffering at Gethsemane, Christ hung on a cross.
You are with us.
We see that suffering echoed in our own lives, and acknowledge our inability to suffer as Christ did, perfectly, without sin. We remember:
You are with us.

When we are uncertain,
You are with us.
When we have lost things or people precious to us,
You are with us.
When sickness overtakes us,
You are with us.
When we are overwhelmed with grief,
You are with us.
When we are exhausted from our labors,
You are with us.
When enemies rise up against us,
You are with us.
When our souls are in the dark night,
You are with us.

We take comfort in Christ, who is a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief; and we are consoled by His having walked the road of suffering ahead of us.
You are with us.
We believe anew in the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
You are with us.
It is because of Christ that hope still stirs within us.
You are with us.
And it is by His example that we turn to You in the midst of our suffering.
You are with us.

May our dry bones be enlivened; our stone hearts be made flesh; and our sickness be not unto death.
You are with us.

Hallelujah. Amen.