Litany for the Divine Feminine

I considered writing a litany for Mother's Day. But then I realized that I am frustrated because Mother's Day tends to be the only day of the year that your average Jesus-y church talks AT ALL about the feminine. So I've written this prayer to hopefully inspire us to a larger perception of the Divine, and to lift up my sisters who have been told by their religion or faith-culture that they are Less-Than or Other because of their gender.

God, we know that you made us, male and female
All in your image.
You are above all, throughout all
And in all.

Your image can be found in fathers,
And your image can be found in mothers.
In brothers and sisters, in servants and rulers,
In shepherds and sheep, in adults and children;
In men and in women
The truth of the divine is reflected.

Human society has relegated that image of you that is feminine
To the Less-Than and the Other.
We have worshipped the male
And maligned the female.
We have worshipped the warrior,
And overlooked the nurturer.
We have worshipped the fact,
And ignored the question.

Forgive us for only assigning value to a part of you
And making an idol of it;
All the while closing our perception off
From a broader picture of your goodness.
Restore to us an understanding of you
That encompasses the sacred feminine,
And that helps in turn lift up all of us
Whose identities reflect your feminine image.

Our desire is to know you
Fully and well,
And to see you in the vastness
Of your beauty and majesty.


Litany for Diversity

Do I have to say anything about this litany? Do I have to point out the headlines, the twitter feeds, the political season? I think not. I think we can acknowledge that we have some problems accepting one another, problems loving one another, problems with being kind. And I think we can acknowledge ways in which this political cycle has shown us our own hearts and characters in ways we needed to see. Some have said that it is God's judgement. But I am inclined to think it is God's mercy, moving us forward.

God, you have made people of every imaginable kind
Colors and shapes,
Privileged and marginalized,
Rich and poor.

We have differences of every imaginable kind
Perspectives and worldviews,
Countries and cultures,
Philosophies and theologies.

We acknowledge that we tend to fear what we don’t understand,
And that love is more powerful than fear.
We acknowledge that we must work to understand each other
And that this work is Kingdom work.
We acknowledge that each perspective brings your nature into clearer picture
And that we need each other’s points of view.

Help us to love one another
Even though we are different.
Help us to celebrate one another
Even though we may not agree.
Help us to be kind to one another
Even when we have been hurt.
Help us to open the doors to our churches
    Governing bodies
    Dinner tables
Even though it may feel awkward and impractical.

We know that the diversity of the people of the world is a good gift
For our growth and edification;
To help us see your vision for the world
Where there are neither slave nor free,
Male nor female,
One race nor the other;
But we are all free, beloved, and united
In the peace of Christ Jesus.



Litany for Gender Equality (part 1: Lament and Hope)

This litany has been a long time coming. This is part one of a series on gender equality. Here is the prayer for the women's voices: Lament, and Hope for Moving Forward.

God, hear our lament now:
We have been meek.
We have done our duty.
We have cared for children and husbands and aging parents and sick folks.
We have cooked and cleaned and tended livestock and gardens.
We are ready for more.

We have been first to your birth, and first to your tomb.
We have been paid less for more work.*
We have been beaten and imprisoned for asserting our rights.
We have been abused, then shunned for divorcing our abusers.
We have been raped, then blamed for our own trauma.
We have been blamed for the sins of men, indeed the sins of the world.
We have let our dreams die because we were told it was your will.
We have been told No so many times that we have stopped asking for permission.

We have been sold; but you are telling us our worth
We have been soiled; but you are washing us anew.
We have been silenced; but you are giving us a voice.
We have been hidden; but you see us.

(ALL:) You have always seen us.

We see you:
Making room for us at the table,
Opening our mouths to speak,
Strengthening our hearts,
Educating our minds,
Honoring our martyrs.

(ALL:) You are redeeming us.

Even now equality is making glorious progress in the world,
     expanding along with the Kingdom of God.
Even now strong women are rising up to make change,
     to lead, to correct, to work for peace.
Even now men and women are working together,
     each acknowledging their need for the others’ perspective.
Even now more places are being set at the table,
     for the inclusion of women alongside men,
     slave and free,
     young and old,
     every nation and language,
     every background and gift-mix.
(ALL:) Hallelujah! Thanks be to God!

We partner with you, Living God,
To remake hierarchy into equality.
To replace violence with peace.
To remake retribution into kindness.
To abolish comparison and celebrate uniqueness.
To transform weakness into strength.
To transform fear into confidence.
To replace apathy with assertiveness.
To replace exploitation with justice.
To replace oppression with mercy.

Make of us strong leaders and wise advocates;
Hands that work for justice, and voices that speak truth,
Students that dig deeply, and priests that call upon your presence.


*Right now, women in the U.S. are paid, on average, 80 cents on the dollar compared to men.



Litany for Repentance From Bigotry

Yesterday I had the poignant honor of reading two of my litanies, one for an interfaith vigil honoring and mourning those 50 LGBTQ+ persons killed in the attack in Orlando, and another at a subsequent vigil hosted by Austin Pride.  A couple of Muslim leaders spoke, calling for an end to violence, extolling the mercy and compassion of God. Several members of the LGBTQ+ community spoke, exhorting the community to combat hate with love. The mayor of Austin and a few other local politicians spoke. A Rabbi gave a lovely blessing and sang peace over us. A handful of Christians spoke (I actually prefer the term Follower of Jesus, but, ahem), myself included along with Ben, one of the pastors of my church.

I hardly know how I got there, except I know somebody who knows somebody, and so forth, and Ben brought me along, and somehow following Jesus tends to take us to unexpected places (the glorious run-on sentence of faith-life). I am nobody these people know, so why should they listen to me? I have no title, nor am I technically a vocational “faith leader.” And yet, there I was, hands full of prayers I’ve written, being handed a microphone. Prayers about grief, terrorism, justice and equality, suffering. The best I could offer to a wounded community.

I thanked God that I had written these prayers, that they were ready and available and potentially helpful in a time of deep tragedy, at the same time that I felt sad that I’d ever had to write such prayers; sad that we must have language for such grief.

In between the two vigils, a group of hundreds of us marched down the streets of Austin with a police escort, from one vigil to another, demonstrating our solidarity with those who have been lost, and with the vibrant community who lost them. I had never been to an event like this. I had never even considered events like this to be of much use; obviously, I got schooled. I’d never really understood the point of marching. I’d never understood that marching is more about the hearts of the people who march than it is about observers or political statements or news-making.

Marching, Marching, down Congress

Marching, Marching, down Congress

I thought of that horde of folks, marching around the Galilean countryside, traipsing after Jesus; they had gotten so focused on following that they neglected to bring food. They needed Jesus to feed them in more ways than one. I thought of Jesus’ compassion on them, on their hunger, when he could have said too bad so sad you dummies walked out into the wilderness uninvited with no food. What must those folks have felt as they marched? What was happening in their hearts? I can tell you I still don’t fully understand marching but I have a new appreciation for it.  There is something to be said for walking with people.

I am not a part of the LGBTQ+ community, not even peripherally. But I have a new level of love for those folks and what they’ve endured, what they are still enduring. I want to stand in solidarity with them in their grief and loss and fear and in the great temptation to give hate for hate. I have been given a new heart, yet again. As I spoke to folks and looked in their eyes I felt anew the love of God for each person, going out, going out, going out; just like it always does.

A bigot is a person who is intolerant of people who have a different way of thinking. I have never considered myself a bigot (who does?). In fact I have tried hard to NOT be a bigot. I know a few bigots and they aren’t pleasant people (and yet the Love of God is going out, going out, going out to them). But I think there are ways bigotry slips in unacknowledged. I think there are ways I have been bigoted without even realizing it. There are patterns of thought my mind has followed that were maybe taught to me, or maybe assumed, and that maybe ignorance has perpetuated.

So I offer this prayer, along with an invitation for you to come alongside me in praying it.


Compassionate God,
Have mercy on us sinners.

We confess our blindness.
We confess our small-mindedness.
We confess our tendency to think that what we think about the hearts of others is always true.
We confess our judgment and suspicion of things and people unfamiliar to or different from us.
We confess our inability to perfectly follow the Way of Love.

Of bigotry, we repent.
Of condemnation, we repent.
Of lack of compassion, we repent.
Of ignorance, we repent.
Of unwillingness to walk with people You love, we repent.

Keep on giving us new hearts.
Keep on shaping our minds and our perspectives.
Keep on training us in the Way of Love.
Keep on refreshing our understanding of Jesus.
Keep on expanding our minds, even as Your Kingdom is expanding.
Don’t give up on us, even when we are stubborn and self-righteous.




Litany for Justice and Equality (and Martin Luther King)

*This litany was originally written for MLK day, but also has implications for the 2016 elections. Some of the language was influenced by Brian Zahnd's excellent book _Beauty Will Save The World_, and also the prayer echoes some of the language in the worship song "Form Us" by Casey Corum and Anabeth Morgan.

Oh God, we are reminded today of Your infinite Love for all people:
All races
All colors
All political affiliations
All religious persuasions
All social classes
All economic statuses
All nations.

We confess our tendency to think that we are the best, our perspective the most righteous.
Forgive us our arrogance, Oh God.
We confess our tendency to judge others, and to condemn those we find unworthy.
Forgive us our impertinence, Oh God.

We see others with criticism.
You see us all with love-filled eyes.
We see only in part.
You see the world with infinite wisdom.
We see the external.
You see the heart.

Mold us to Your way.
Form us to Your heart.
Shape us with love.
Make us new with grace.

Our way is not of violence and empire, but in the power and beauty of the cross.
Our faith is not in politics, but in the transforming love of Christ.

May we work diligently to help meet the needs of those You love, both physical and spiritual.
May our eyes be opened to the value and worth of each person we meet.
May Your kingdom come, Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.