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


Litany for What Ails Us

This litany follows along with the week's Lectionary passages from Mark 4, Psalms 30 & 130, and Lamentations 3.

God, thank you for showing us over and over, in myriad ways,
That you care for us.

Even as Christ walked the earth in human form,
He healed ailments (1),
Brought life where death seemed imminent (2),
Cured diseases,
Welcomed little children,
Offered food for body and soul.

We are afflicted by so many sorrows and discomforts,
But you know them all.
We are brought low by various circumstances and particulars,
But you care about them all.

We suffer most when we distance ourselves from you.
We suffer most when we forget you.
Out of the depths we cry to you, God. (3)
Nothing about us goes unnoticed by you.

The steadfast love of God never ceases,
Your mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness. (4)

You have taken off our sackcloth and clothed us with joy;
You have turned our mourning into dancing,
So that our souls may praise you and not be silent.
O LORD our God, we will give thanks to you forever. (5)

Amen

 

  1. Mark 5:29,30

  2. Mark 5:41

  3. Psalm 130:1

  4. Lamentations 3:22,23

  5. Psalm 30:11,12

Ephiphany, Year B (Week4): Litany for Unclean Spirits

This litany is inspired by the account of Christ casting out unclean spirits in the Gospel lectionary passage for the week: Mark 1:21-28.

God we know that you have given us power
And authority
To deal with unclean spirits decisively.
Hallelujah.

We know that you have given us freedom
To be our truest selves,
To face our shadow side,
To live in victory.

Help us to deal with unclean spirits, as we encounter them:
Racism
Prejudice
Patriarchy
Inequality
Hatred
Addiction
Violence.

Whether the unclean spirits reside in others
Or in our own selves,
We become aware,
We exercise power in love.
We commit ourselves to being people who walk in the footsteps of Christ
Who tell the truth,
Who create peace,
Who rout out injustice.

Help us to know Christ so well
And reflect your image so clearly
That the world is different and better
When we have passed through it.
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


 

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 Unity

This week's Lectionary litany draws on the passages from Genesis 45, as well as Psalm 133 and Isaiah 56.

 

God, sometimes your commands are baffling! You seem to expect absurd things from us,
Things which go against our grain:
To love our enemies,
To forgive our betrayers,
To provide for our oppressors,
To eat at a table with sinners,
To support sick and poor people,
To renounce violence,
To welcome foreigners
To embrace outcasts (1).

Your paradigm is so different from ours --
Your sacrificial love. Our self-absorbed defense --
We can hardly wrap our minds around it,
And yet it is the most compelling thing we’ve ever heard.

When Joseph saw his brothers after so many years
Who had sold him into slavery and ruined his life,
He wept
And welcomed them.

How very good and pleasant it is
For kindred to live together in unity! (2)

Help us to remember in the midst of conflict and dispute:
We are one.
We are the betrayer,
And we are the betrayed.
We are the poor,
And we are the oppressor.
We are the sinner,
And we are the sinned against.
We are the weepers,
And we are the wept upon. (3)

You, God, have welcomed all to your table; every human being, your own child.
Let us dwell together in unity.

Amen

(1) Isaiah 56:8
(2) Psalm 133:1
(3) Gen 45:14, 15
 

Litany for Wrestling


This week's Lectionary selection includes the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel of God, and coming out with a limp.


To the Spirit of YHWH (God) we pray *
We speak from our deepest selves:

There is much to wrestle with in this life on earth:
Vocations
Human Relationships
Money
Reputations
Losses
Discernments
Not to mention, evil.

Most of us come out battered at worst, bruised at best. Certainly bearing scars.
None of us are exempt from trouble.
But there is a holiness to wrestling:
The worst is when we choose to not to engage.
From that we emerge unharmed,
But unchanged and unnamed (1).

So whatever you’ve given us to wrestle,
We will wrestle.
Help us to learn every lesson the first time, thoroughly.
Help us to go deep, without fear.
We will not let you go,
Until you’ve given us your blessing (2).

And whatever ways we must limp along after
We will know: we are better off than before.
For we have seen God face to face
And yet our lives are preserved (3).

Amen

 

1) Gen 32:28
2) Gen 32:26
3) Gen 32:30
*substitute the term of address for God that suits your community best. I like Yahweh, or YHWH. I also like Creator. But if God is most comfortable for you, use that.

Litany for Jacob and Esau

The story of Jacob and Esau is part of this week's Lectionary reading. The heartbreaking story of brothers who opposed one another and competed from the beginning, who only made peace after a lifetime of heartache and pain.

Before we were born, we were poised to be enemies;
We were taught to hate.
Before we were born we fought and tussled;
We were expected to compete.
Before we were born there was already bad blood between us
We were initiated into heirarchy.

We come from a long history of war-mongers,
Peace-breakers,
Persecuters and persecuted,
Slaveholders and slaves.
We never expected another way but to rule or be ruled.
We have never known anything different.

This way continued for a long time:
We perpetuated it because we couldn't imagine anything else
Until the Christ came
And blew our minds open with a new gospel.

He gave us a new paradigm for living:
To love our enemies
To bless those who persecute us
To turn our cheeks to violence
To lead by serving
To share from abundant hearts
To make love the greatest virtue
To forgive and be forgiven
To care for the weakest among us
To regard God, not as enemy, but as friend.

It has taken many centuries for these ideas to sink into our consciousness
But, hallelujah! We are progressing
Christ has reinvented living,
The old ways are passing away.
And may the power of the new idea, the good news, the new paradigm of Christ
Give us hope for the future.

Amen


 

Ascension Day: Litany for Spiritual Power

This Sunday is Ascension Day, in which we remember the ascension of Christ into heaven. The week's Lectionary reading contained the word "power" 6 times. The word stuck out to me, and I was thinking about how the church calendar and Lectionary selections are leading up to the next BIG DAY, which is Pentecost. And about how mostly we go around completely forgetful that we have any access to spiritual power at all, that we have been shared power to change things, move mountains, bring healing and peace, offer forgiveness. Seems like a first step to tapping into that might be simply acknowledging it. Just speaking the word aloud seems to bring with it a new energy. So I invite you to pray this prayer with me, as we raise your awareness of our inheritance.

Sing praises, all the earth, sing praises!
Clap your hands, dance for joy, all you people! (1)
For the Holy One is ruler over all,
Overseeing with majesty, wisdom and love. (2)

The Christ has risen from the dead.
He has scoured hell and overcome it.
The Christ has appeared in life,
Proving himself and his word
The Resurrection and the Life, the Christ,
Has ascended into heaven and is seated at Yahweh’s right hand.
We, who look to Christ as our example and our teacher,
Wait upon his promise of power.

And indeed it has been given to us:
A spirit of wisdom and revelation as we come to know Christ (3)
That the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened
That we may know the hope to which we are called
And the riches of our glorious inheritance,
The immeasurable greatness of his power. (4)

Christ, Help us to know
Help us to listen and understand;
Give us courage to walk in the fullness
Of the power of Christ in us.

Amen

 

  1. Psalm 47:1

  2. Psalm 93:1

  3. Eph 1:17

  4. Eph 1:18-19




     

Easter 6 (Year A): Litany for Abiding Love

The Lectionary passages for the sixth Sunday of Easter (Year A) include Acts 17, John 14, and Psalm 66. I've been contemplating what it might mean to be powered by love, as if divine love were a battery that fuels us. Or as if, when we take the bread and the cup of Eucharist, we ingest love, it becomes part of us, and fuels our activity in the world. How might we train ourselves to run on love rather than on ego? How can we learn to operate on a new system? What spiritual practices might form that pathway in us?


Eternal Divine Love,
Creator and Parent of all,
Ruler of Heaven and Earth
We are your children, your offspring. (1)

You give to all mortals life and breath
And all things.
You allot the times of our existence
And the boundaries of our places. (2)

We confess our blindness to your presence.
Make us aware of you.
We confess the smallness of our concept of you.
Enlarge our knowing.
We confess our ego-driven tendencies.
Power us instead with Love.

We have searched and groped for you
Though you are not far from each one of us. (3)
We cried aloud to you
And you have heard our prayer. (4)
We bless you,
For you have not rejected us nor removed your steadfast Love from us. (5)

Help us to keep your commandments (6)
And to abide in your Love .(7)

Amen

 

(1) Acts 17:28
(2) Acts 17:25,26
(3) Acts 17:27
(4) Psalm 66:17,19
(5) Psalm 66:20
(6) John 14:15
(7) John 14:21

Easter 5 (Year A): Litany for Looking at Christ

Here are the Lectionary passages for this Sunday, May 14, Year A. I have utilized the 1 Peter 2 and John 14 passages.
 

Eternal Christ, Out-poured Heart of God,
Merciful One,
Originator of Forgiveness,
Author of Peace:

It is to you that we can look
When we want to see God.
It is to you that we can draw near
When we want to be close to God.
It is you that we can imagine
When we want to understand God.
It is to you that we can turn
When we need to take refuge in God.
It is through you we can go;
You’re a direct route to God. (1)

You were with us all along,
But we kept on rejecting you. (2)
Now, just in the nick of time,
We are wrapping our arms around you. (3)

We rely upon your gracious promise:
That if we ask for anything in your name, you’ll do it. (4)
We ask to join you,
To be part of that divine communion --
You in God, God in you, (5)
Us, dancing and working along with you.
Where you are,
There may we be also (6)

Amen

 

(1) John 14:6
(2) 1 Pet 2:7
(3) 1 Pet 2:10
(4) John 14:13
(5) John 14:10
(6) John 14:3

 

Transfiguration Sunday: Litany for The Morning Star

Transfiguration Sunday marks the end of the season of Epiphany. The season of Lent follows. Transfiguration Sunday celebrates the day in which Jesus was confirmed by God as divine before the apostles. The Lectionary passages for the day tell the story, as well as its precursor story, that of the transfiguration of Moses in the book of Exodus. In an unexpected appearance, Moses himself is also witness to Jesus' transfiguration as described in Matthew 17.


Jesus, we have seen your majesty (1)
And we are captivated
By the light of your face, shining like the sun
And your clothes, dazzling white. (2)
You are more important than all who came before or after you:
More than Moses, or Elijah;
More than any prophet, priest, or king;
More than any pastor, politician, or world leader.

In you every message is confirmed (3)
Every message of hope
Every message of peace
Every message of reconciliation
The identity and character of God
Made known in the Son (4):
     Reckless forgiveness
     Radical Love.

We will look to you.
We will live by your light
Until the day dawns
And the Morning Star rises in our hearts. (3)

(1) 2 Pet 1:16
(2) Matt 17:2
(3) 2 Pet 1:19
(4) Matt 17:5
 

Epiphany Seventh Sunday: Litany for Aliens and Evil-Doers

This week's Lectionary passages are PREACHING to me. Unless you read them, particularly the Leviticus combined with the Matthew 5, you probably won't connect with this litany. Those church folks who scheduled the readings really were thoughtful and thorough in their choices, because these four passages are like bells that chime in harmony.

 

God, we hear you asking us
To extend the bounds of our love,
To consider new groups of people worthy of our regard.
To cast a bigger net.

We are supposed to love widely
To forgive deeply
To share sacrificially
To give generously
Even to those we consider undeserving
Even to those we consider dangerous.

Strengthen us, Oh God,
to follow your ways:
Because loving our enemies is not for the faint of heart (Matt 5:44);
Giving to the poor decreases our profit margins (Lev 19:10);
Welcoming the alien makes for awkward cultural situations;
Caring for the differently-abled is inconvenient (Lev 19:14);
Not resisting evil-doers interrupts our self-defense mechanisms (Matt 5:39);
And grudges are our favorite burdens to bear (Lev 19:18).

We would often rather be normal, nice, politically-correct people.
And normal people don’t do the things you recommend.
But you aren’t asking us to be normal.
You’re asking us to be Kingdom-people.
You’re asking us to live by the law of love.
You’re asking us to lay down our lives

Strengthen us, Oh God, to follow your ways,
And to love neighbors, aliens, and evil-doers as ourselves (Lev 19:18).

Amen

Epiphany Fifth Sunday: Litany for What To Do

This litany is taken directly from Isaiah 58, Psalm 112, and from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount iMatthew 5. Each of those is part of the Lectionary selection for the Fifth Sunday of Epiphany.

Merciful God,
We receive your instructions about what pleases you:
To loose the bonds of injustice,
To free the oppressed,
To share bread with the hungry,
To provide shelter for the homeless poor,
To cover the naked,
To be present to our kin. (1)

You have said: “If you offer your food to the hungry
And satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
Then your light shall rise in the darkness
And your gloom be like the noonday.” (2)

You have said: “It is well with those who deal generously,
Who conduct their affairs with justice.
They are not afraid of evil tidings;
Their hearts are steady;
They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor;
In the end they will look in triumph on their foes.” (3)

We acknowledge that what is wisdom to you seems like foolishness to the world;
    That the commands and example of Jesus seem ridiculous, and risky;
    That if our goal is to save our own lives, we will lose them;
    That, in your kingdom, giving is better than getting. (4)

Lord, give us strength.
We are the salt of the earth.
Lord, give us wisdom.
We are the light of the world.
Let our light shine brightly,
So all may see the goodness of God. (5)

Amen

1) Isaiah 58:6,7
2) Isaiah 58:10
3) Psalm 112:5-9
4) This theme appears multiple times in the New Testament. My favorite is Luke 6:38. Also, Acts 20:35
5) Matt 5:13-16

Epiphany, Fourth Sunday: Litany for How to Live

This week’s Lectionary passages are heavy hitters. Micah 6 and The Beatitudes in particular.

 

Jesus, we hear your voice and receive the intention of your heart when you said
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of justice,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you
For great is your reward in heaven. (1)
 
(pause)

When you uttered those words, you upended the paradigm of the world.
Help us to understand what it all means:
What once looked like power to us
Now appears weak.
What once looked like wisdom
Now appears foolish. (2)
What once took last place in our priorities,
Now appears first.

What does the Lord require of us?
     To do justice,
     To love mercy,
     To walk humbly with God. (3)
Who may dwell with God?
     Those who walk blamelessly.
     Those who do what is right,
     Those who speak truth. (4)

We want our eyes opened, our spirits awakened
To the beauty of the Kingdom of God here now.
Teach us how to live well upon the earth;
Humble, gentle, and pure of heart.

Amen

(1) Matthew 5
(2) 1 Cor 1:27
(3) Micah 6:8
(4) Psalm 15:1,2

Epiphany, Third Sunday: Litany for Following


This week’s litany follows along with the Gospel Lectionary reading Mark 4:12-23, in which Jesus speaks the iconic words, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”
 

Jesus, you have called us.
“Follow me,” you said…
“Repent, for heaven is near.”
We want to follow you.

Culture is also calling us.
The world wants it way with us,
Offering us success, power, revenge, comfort, prestige,
Usually at someone else’s expense.
We’ll leave it all behind
And fish for people instead.

For all the ways we are complicit in the world’s schemes,
Forgive us, Lord.
For all the ways we choose false peace,
Forgive us, Lord.
For all the ways we make ourselves blind,
Forgive us, Lord.

We want to follow you with everything we are
With everything we have:
Every footstep,
Every quiet breath,
Every act of peaceful resistance,
Every careful word,
Every healing touch,
Every helpful offering.
.
Strengthen us now, Lord Jesus, to do as you do:
To proclaim good news to the poor,
To heal every sickness and cure every disease, (Matt 4:23)
To set captives free (Isaiah 61:1).

Amen
 

Litany for Defense

For those who are unfamiliar, the Lectionary is a schedule of scripture readings that covers a three year period. Each week there is a reading from the Hebrew scripture, the Epistles, the Psalms and one of the Gospels. The readings for each week will cover the major arcs of scripture over the three years.

For the past few months I have been following along each week with the Lectionary readings from the Gospel of Luke, providing a litany that is a companion to the text. The prayers I provide are intended as both petition and as a tool for spiritual formation. This week’s text is Luke 23:33-43, in which Jesus famously says "Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing." I follow the Revised Common Lectionary. I'm continually inspired by the Lectionary as it pertains to current events.
 

 

We are tempted over and over
To try to save ourselves,
Rather than put ourselves in your care.
Father, forgive us. We know not what we do.

We are tempted over and over
To use violence to further our cause,
Rather than consider mercy a victory.
Father forgive us. We know not what we do.

We are tempted over and over
To choose a savior other than Christ;
A soldier instead of a shepherd;
A political or religious leader instead of a lamb.

Keep us from temptation,
And rescue us from evil.
As Christ chose not to save himself from death by violent means,
But instead succumbed
Willingly and without defense.
So may we willingly go down into death
That we may arise as new creatures,
Awakened and alive to Christ’s kingdom.

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 the Living

The Lectionary text from the Gospels for November 6, 2016 is Luke 20:27-38* This responsive litany is intended to accompany that passage.
 

God of the Living,
Grant that we may live in your presence always,
And be to you alive always:
Children of the resurrection.

Giver of Life,
We extol you.
Great is the Lord,
And greatly to be praised.

May we live out our time on earth alertly,
Awake to your love.
And may the fruits of our labors be
Treasures that moth and rust do not destroy.

May we be considered worthy of a place in the age to come.
When peace reigns,
When justice is fulfilled
When death is no more.

The Lord is gracious, full of mercy,
Slow to anger and abounding in love.
The God of the living
Has brought us to life.

Amen

 

*If I were paraphrasing this passage, here is how it would go:
Some creeps try to trick Jesus by asking him a ridiculous question about marriage in the afterlife. Jesus hears and graciously answers the question they didn’t ask aloud, which is about resurrection and eternal life in God; implies that they should consider whether they themselves are currently alive or dead.
I don’t know if I have that right. Jesus is pretty mysterious sometimes.



 

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