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

Hi! As you may have noticed,
I’ve moved much of my work over to
Patreon.
This is part of my effort to make 2019 a #yearofwritingsustainably
So thanks for reading and subscribing.


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

Hi! As you may have noticed,
I’ve moved much of my work over to Patreon.
This is part of my effort to make 2019 a #yearofwritingsustainably
So thanks for reading and subscribing.


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)


Lent 1 (Year C): Litany for Weakness

Hi! As you may have noticed,
I’ve moved much of my work over to Patreon.
This is part of my effort to make 2019 a #yearofwritingsustainably
So thanks for reading and subscribing.


I got waylaid by a terrible flu for the last 7 days. And still my brain is not entirely online. I find it so interesting how the Lectionary seems to coincide with my own real-life events. Here I have been in a fog of weakness, reliant on help from others just to get through. And the Lectionary brings me this story.

In Luke’s account of the temptation of Christ, we see Christ refute the devil’s efforts at getting him to “prove” himself. If you make bread from stones, you’ll show us all. If you worship me I’ll make them know your authority. If you jump off the temple room, the angels will be forced to carry you, and everyone will know you’re the real deal.

Isn’t this what we are always feeling like we have to do as humans? Prove ourselves? We feel like we have to prove that we’re strong, or invincible, or in control, or knowledgeable, or, at the very least NOT WEAK. I can tell you I have had not one shred of control over anything in the last week. Every plan canceled. Every intention thwarted. Every task put off.

And Jesus refuses the whole game. He goes willingly to the physical weakness of hunger and deprivation. He goes willingly to the vulnerability of harsh desert. He doesn’t retreat to a well-stocked fortress, but an empty wasteland of weakness.

I guess this is a lesson we learn from Lent: that weakness is strength. That proving ourselves is a game the ego plays, not the Christ-consciousness.




Oh God, we come to Lent to face ourselves:
Our desperate need to prove our worth,
Our hunger for reputation, wealth, and influence;
Our ego’s power over us…



Lent 5 (Year B): Litany for Losing

Today's litany comes from the Lectionary text in John 12 for week 5 of Lent (Year B).


God, it’s an upside-down, unexpected world you’ve made.
We can’t assume we understand anything.
Your imagination is unfathomable;
We can spend our whole lives exploring your ways.

To gain status
We must become lowly.
To grow up
We must root down.
To be glorified
We must embrace death. (John 12:24)
To gain life
We must lose it. (John 12:25)
To gain assurance
We must embrace paradox.

We all face loss in this life:
   Loss of loved ones
   Loss of status
   Loss of fortune
   Loss of certainty
In loss we choose: hope or misery.

For in your unfathomable mystery, what was lost
Is found.
What was buried in death
Is planted.
What was useless
Is glorified.
What was old
Is new.
What was hopeless,
Is full of possibility.

Help us to remember the hopelessness of Christ
As he lay in the tomb;
How in his stillness, in his loss,
Lay the seeds of life.

Amen

Lent 2 (Year B): Litany for Memento Mori

A few months ago I purchased an ornamental skull and hung it on a wall. It’s gilt, and made to look like the skull of some kind of bull. I didn’t really know why I did this, except that there was something about the skull that was compelling to me; something edgy but true. In other words I didn’t do this strictly for decorative reasons. I hung it in the bathroom, which freaked the children out a little, but now everyone sees the skull whenever they do the business that living people do.

Weeks later I learned, quite by accident (from Sister Theresa Aletheia on twitter), about the ancient tradition of Memento Mori (1), Latin for “remember death.” It’s the practice of intentionally remembering that death is unpredictable and imminent, to remind us to live well, do what matters, not waste time on vanities. Many people practice Memento Mori by keeping a skull in view, so that they are reminded to live well whenever they see it. I had inadvertently stumbled into my own Memento Mori practice.

So this is what I thought of when I read this week’s Lectionary reading from Mark 8. Jesus informs his followers that he will have to endure suffering, rejection, and death; and then after that he’ll rise again. Some of the apostles, particularly Peter, just can’t deal with this idea. I can just hear him: "What’s this about death? Death has no part of this equation we are working on here! Death is far away, an abstract idea! We don’t have to think about that now! How humiliating that you would even think of letting death take you, Jesus!" And Jesus rebukes Peter, telling him that in his utter denial of death having any part in the narrative, he is “setting [his] mind not on divine things but on human things” (2).

In the season of Lent we are invited to remember our mortality, and our immortality. We are given permission to contemplate what is humanly (but not divinely) considered morbid. We begin by admonishing one another: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” And we end by celebrating the life that comes after the dust, after the death.



God, we know from the narratives and themes within scripture
That the road to life is fraught with death
That the road to safety is fraught with peril
That the road to light is fraught with darkness.

We know from the narratives and themes within nature
That to get to spring we pass through winter.
That to get fertile soil, there must be compost and decay.
That to get to bloom we pass through buried seed.

We know from the narratives and themes within our own lives
That mistakes and failures teach us
That wisdom comes from experience, and often from hardship and loss
That growing up means learning hard lessons.

Death follows us everywhere we go in this life.
Nothing living is immune.

As Christ went down to death for three days
So we must follow:
Down, past death
    Death to self (3)
    Death to assumption
    Death to expectation
    Death to control
We are brought low by this humility.

And in turn, out past death we find a mystery:
What we thought was lost is found (4).
Death has hatched something altogether new:
Glorious life!

So, we accept our mission:
To live well,
To face death,
And learn the lesson of resurrection.

Amen

  1. More info about Memento Mori

  2. Mark 8:33

  3. Mark 8:34

  4. Mark 8:35


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Lent 5 (Year A): Litany for Dry Bones

This week's Lectionary readings contain the accounts of Ezekiel's vision of a valley of dry bones, and of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I've also included elements from Romans 8 and Psalm 130.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in his word I hope;
My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning,
More than those who watch for the morning. (1)

You free us from our graves (2)
And the traps our minds set for us. (3)
You free us from the constant hell of our own egos and deceptions,
And show us the path of peace.

You breath the breath of life into us (4)
And give life to our bodies through your Spirit. (5)
Come from the four winds, O breath,
And breathe upon us, that we may live. (4)

Where there was once a tame breeze
There is a wind.
Where there was once a valley of dry bones
There is a multitude of life.

Our bones were dried up;
Our hope was lost. (6)
But we hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
And great power to redeem. (7)

1) Psalm 130:5,6
2) Ezekiel 37:12
3) Romans 8:6,7
4) Ezekiel 37:9
5) Romans 8:11
6) Ezekiel 37:11
7) Psalm 130:7

Lent 4 (Year A): Litany for Blindness

This litany incorporates the New Testament readings from this week's Lectionary passages: when Jesus heals a man born blind in John 9, and a section of Ephesians 5. I am particularly captivated by the image of Jesus smearing mud on the man's face as part of the healing. I think there's all kinds of goodness in that image if we look for it.
 

God, we understand that sometimes, before our eyes can see, they must get muddy.
The mud is a crucial step: Jesus working on us.
We can’t know sight until we’ve tried to see through mud. (1)
We must realize our blindness, and admit it.

The blindness itself isn’t our sin.
It’s pretending we can see when we can’t that is harmful.
It’s judging the mud of others to be worse than our own that sets us back.
It’s being dishonest about our blindness that displeases You. (2)

To all the ways we’ve been blind to our own true selves,
Open our eyes, Oh God.
To all the ways we’ve been blind to the suffering of others,
Open our eyes, Oh God.
To all the ways we’ve been blind to and complicit in our society’s brokenness,
Open our eyes, Oh God.
To all the ways we’ve been blind to the sacredness of human beings,
Open our eyes, Oh God.
To all the ways we’ve been blind to your invitation and calling in our lives,
Open our eyes, Oh God.
To all the ways we’ve been blind to the way of your kingdom coming, now and not-yet,
Open our eyes, Oh God.

We want to live as children of light. (3)
We want to learn what pleases You.  (4)
We want light shined on the deepest recesses of our beings,
So that all that is hidden may become visible. (5)

Amen

 

  1. John 9:11

  2. John 9:41

  3. Eph 5:8

  4. Eph 5:10

  5. Eph 5:13

Lent 3 (Year A): Litany for Living Water

Here are the Lectionary passages for the third Sunday of Lent, Year A.

O come, let us sing to the LORD;
Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. (1)

You have proven yourself faithful over and over again.
You give us water for our thirst.
We are the people of your pasture, the sheep of your hand (2)
You give us food for empty bellies.

In every difficulty, you reveal yourself to us and give us good things:
From suffering comes endurance,
From endurance comes character,
From character comes hope,
And hope does not disappoint us,
Because your love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. (3)

Your love is living water for our hearts (4),
An unending source of life.
You give to us freely, as family.
You prove your love for us:
Even when we were still caught up in sin and distance from you,
Christ died for us, bringing us near. (5)

O come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker. (6)

Amen

 

(1) Psalm 95:1
(2) Psalm 95:7
(3) Romans 5:3-5
(4) John 4:10
(5) Romans 5:8

(6) Psalm 95:6

Lent 2 (Year A): Litany for Grace and Rebirth

This litany incorporates the Lectionary readings for the Second Week of Lent (Year A). They're not easy ones. They contain concepts whose interpretation theologians have debated for centuries: "Faith vs Works" and the question of what it means to be "born again." These questions and ideas have sparked prolonged and intense debate among various sects of the faith. No wonder it's hard to write a prayer that everyone can pray surrounding these passages, one that is able to hold the tension and explore it.  Tricky business.

 

We lift our eyes up to the hills. Where does our help come from?
Our help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.
The Lord is our keeper;
The Lord will keep our lives. (1)

We trust in the Lord, who justifies the ungodly. (2)
We are the ungodly, the lowly;
But the Lord is gracious to us,
And our trust is counted as righteousness. (3)
By faith we are reborn in the Spirit (4):
     New vision
     New ways of thinking,
     New power to accomplish good work.

For the Son of God has shined his face on us
With glorious light (5);
And the Lord has given us the gift of favor.
His promise rests on grace.

To accept the gift of grace
Help us, Oh God.
To trust in you
Help us, Oh God.
To turn away from evil and toward the goodness of Christ
Help us, Oh God.
To produce fruit that comes from vibrant faith
Help us, Oh God.

Amen

(1) Psalm 121
(2) Romans 4:5
(3) Romans 4:3
(4) John 3:6
(5) Matthew 17:2

Lent 1 (Year A): Litany for Abundance

Be glad in the Lord, O Righteous
Shout for joy, all you upright in heart. (1)

The free gift of God is offered to you:
Abundance of grace and life (2)
Through the obedience of the person
Jesus Christ, our Lord.

As Christ fasted in the desert forty days and forty nights and faced temptation (3),
So we set aside a season of fasting and acknowledging temptation:
A discipline which reminds us of our need for God
And draws us closer to Christ

So many things pull at us:
     Power and wealth
     Vengeance and self-protection
     Comfort and ease
Things which draw us away from doing the work of Christ in the world
But steadfast love surrounds us (4)
We confess our transgressions to you
And you forgive us (5)
In the midst of self-denial
We find this abundance of love.

Be glad in the Lord, O Righteous
Shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

 

(1) Psalm 32:11
(2) Romans 5:17
(3) Matthew 4:2
(4) Psalm 32:10
(5) Psalm 32:5
 

Lent Series: Litany for Good Friday, "Death"

Great God, we acknowledge that we are not always able to recognize Your ways as good
We confess that we are, at times, confounded;
As on Good Friday, when we commemorate the death of one so dear to us
The Savior, Christ the King.

As a seed must pass through death to sprout new life,
So Jesus Christ has passed into death.
Taking the nature of a human, a servant
He made himself nothing
He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death
Even death on a cross!

For three days, we wait with him, for death to accomplish its purpose;
For Christ’s sacrifice to be made meaningful;
For Christ to re-imagine death.
We grieve, even while we are hopeful.

We wait, and as the stones seal Christ’s body in the tomb, even then we say:
“Oh Death, Where is Your sting? O Grave, Where is your victory?”
And we acknowledge Your good way, the confounding way of obedience to death
That brings us toward Life and Hope.

Amen

Lent Series: Litany for Palm Sunday, "Fulfillment"

"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" comes directly from John 12, the instance for which Palm Sunday derives its name; in which the people of Jerusalem pave the streets with palm branches and garments, an ancient version of a red carpet, for Jesus and the donkey colt he rides upon. Earlier in the text, Mary pours a pint of expensive nard, a costly essential oil, on Jesus feet.


Hosanna!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

The One we have long awaited, the Messiah, has come.
Hosanna!
Riding into Jerusalem, not on a warhorse, but on a young donkey,
Hosanna!
The Prince of Peace has come, the one who heals our wounds.
Hosanna!

Everything that was foretold, Christ has fulfilled.
We offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.
We set up a banquet, and pour costly perfume at His feet.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

This is Jesus
Whose name is glorified
This is Jesus
High and lifted up

Hosanna!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

Lent Series: Litany for Lent, Week 5 "Waiting"

God, in this season of Lent
We quiet our souls
That we may see more clearly the one our hearts long for
We ask, seek, and knock
That our prayers may be answered
And our longing fulfilled

We acknowledge that so much of faith-life involves waiting
     for the voice of God to speak
     for the Spirit of God to move
     for the fullness of Your kingdom to come
     for Christ’s return
     for the world to be made new
     for justice and peace to become ordinary
     for love to become the world’s motivation

We acknowledge that even as we wait, you are working
     redeeming the earth
     redeeming people
     confirming Your love.

As Christ waited three days in a tomb
So do we wait for resurrection life.
We wait in faith,
That You are even now giving us new life.
We wait in hope for the Lord.
All creation waits for the Lord.

Amen

Lent Series: Litany for Lent, Week 4 "Thirst"

This prayer in the Lent Series is written for the fourth Sunday in Lent (this year March 6). I re-used lyrics from one of my songs for this one. You can find the prayers for the first Sunday in Lent (February 14, 2016) here, the second Sunday (Feb 21, 2016) here, and the third Sunday (February 28, 2016 ) here.

God, in this season of Lent we reflect upon our emptiness, and Your fullness
Our souls thirst for You.
We come to You, Wellspring of Life
Our flesh longs for you.
You graciously offer us a fountain of water, springing up to eternal life
In a dry and weary land, where there is no water.

Jesus, You are the Living Water, the holy spring
You satisfy our deepest needs.
Whoever drinks of the water You give
Need never thirst again.

We acknowledge the miracle, mystery, and kindness of Your provision
We were thirsty, and you gave us a drink.
Fulfill now Your promise to us:
That those who thirst for righteousness will be filled.

May our hunger, thirst, and need always lead us to You
Let all who are thirsty come to Jesus and drink of living water.

Amen

Lent Series: Litany for Lent, Week 3 "Hunger"

This prayer in the Lent Series is written for the third Sunday in Lent (this year February 28). You can find the prayer for the first Sunday in Lent (February 14, 2016) here, and the second Sunday (Feb 21, 2016) here.

God, in this season of Lenten fasting we set our eyes toward You.
We turn our hearts in Your direction.
We acknowledge our great need for you, and our great hunger.
Give us food from Your hand, oh God.
We confess that we often seek to fill a void inside us with frivolous things, spiritual junk food.
Forgive us, and bless us with manna from heaven.

We set aside the expectation that our hunger might be satisfied by anything but Your Spirit.
Nourish our souls, oh God.
We rely upon Your promise of provision.
They that hunger for righteousness will be filled.
Where we are empty
Fill us up, Oh God.

Jesus said: “I am the bread of Life. Those who come to me will not hunger.”
We come to You, Jesus.
We do not live by bread alone
But by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Amen

 

Lent Series: Litany for Lent, Week 2 "Mercy"

This prayer in the Lent Series is written for the second Sunday in Lent (this year February 21). You can find the prayer for the first Sunday in Lent (this year February 14) here.

Hear, Oh God, when we call to You
Have mercy on us and answer us.

In our vulnerability
Have mercy on us, oh God
In our forgetfulness
Have mercy on us, oh God
In our anxiety
Have mercy on us, oh God
In our wrongdoing
Have mercy on us, oh God
In our hard-heartedness
Have mercy on us, oh God
In our blindness,
Have mercy on us, oh God

In your mercy, you rescue us from our enemies.
In your mercy, you remove our transgressions from us.
In your mercy, you made a way for us to be reconciled to You.
In your mercy, you sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to heal our brokenness.

Grant that in this season of Lent, our hearts may be devoted to You,
That we may see Your mercies new each day.
Grant that we may be always ready to offer mercy to those in need of it,
For mercy triumphs over judgement.

Amen


 

Litany for Ash Wednesday

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. Congregants wear a smudge of ash on their foreheads to symbolize repentance and fasting, and commence the season of preparation for Easter.


Oh God, we are reminded this day of the temporality of our lives here on the earth.
We are dust and to dust we will return.
It is by your Spirit and your power that we are given life.
You are the source of all hope and life.

We enter now a season of repentance.
That we may turn from selfishness.
We set aside some comforts
That we may turn our attention to Your holiness.
Cast now our transgressions far from us
As far is the east is from the west.

We mourn the profound disconnection from You that happened at the dawn of humankind.
Bring us back into Your presence.
We rejoice in the perfect work of Christ on earth.
Christ reconciles us to You.

Prepare our hearts, Oh God, for Resurrection life.
You bring beauty from ashes.
Prepare our hearts for the joy of Your coming.
You bring gladness from mourning.
Prepare our hearts for the fullness of Your presence.
You bring forth praise from despair.

Amen

 

Lent Series: Litany for Lent, Week 1 "Temptation"

Holy God: in this season of Lenten fasting, we remember Christ
Who went out into the desert to fast and undergo temptation.
We confess that we are often distracted by material comforts
And tempted to value them above the Kingdom of God.

You, God, are our help in difficulty;
Christ is our inspiration.
We confess that we do not live by bread or worldly provision alone,
But by every word that comes from Your mouth.

May we fill our mouths, our hearts, our minds now with your words
That we might be transformed and renewed.
May we, with renewed hearts and minds,
Better serve the purposes of Your kingdom.
May we, by setting aside worldly distractions
Become more like Christ.
May we, with purified motives and deeper understanding,
Receive Christ when He comes to us.

Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.

Amen