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:
Human Relationships
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).



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 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.



Litany for Freedom

The lectionary reading from the Gospels for August 21 is from Luke 13:10-17.

I love this part of the story. I get a smile on my face every time I read it. In part because I enjoy breaking rules and sticking it to The Man. It’s the stage-3, rebellious teenager in me. No actually I wasn’t very rebellious until I became an adult and I started to see the cracks in the whole faith-schematic that I was a part of. I came to adulthood in a denominational world of fundamentalism, rules-adherence gospel, and church power struggle. Pastors were routinely “voted out,” having had factions rise up against them from within churches. Families who didn’t follow the rules were made unwelcome.

I witnessed all this. I witnessed an aversion to ecumenicalism, resistance to anything “tainted” by any other theological perspective, and unwillingness to build community bridges. My perception of the church was colored by the fact that there was always drama and disagreement within it. Calvinism was gospel and the gospel was Calvinism, and war was a valid tool for spreading it. The message to me as a young woman was: God is happiest with you if you are married, mothering children at home, submitting to your husband, being quiet and dressing modestly. My interests in theology and leadership were misplaced, so I was told, so I shut them down for many years. I don’t say all this as a judgement; I say it as part of the story of what I experienced as a young person, and what brought me to where I am today.

Eventually that vague sense of dread became a personal revolution. I came to a place in which I said: I don’t want this anymore. This is not good news. I am not sure who I am, but it isn’t who they say I am. Scratch it all, start again. But keep Jesus, I like him even though he confounds me every time I open the book.

Jordan and I married and moved far away from home. We flipped a coin to decide where. We landed by the grace of God in the bosom of a little community that was trying to follow Jesus together, to be emotionally healthy, to work through disagreements in raw but authentic ways. The little church was, of all sacrilegious and heretical things, pastored by a woman! We were a bundle of misunderstood theology, church resentments and wounds, and in the midst of a great deal of life-shock; but gradually we moved toward healing and towards Jesus.

That church broke all the rules we had been taught. Talk about our feelings? Emotional health is important? Reconciliation is a thing? Women can do stuff and the wrath of God won’t descend? We don’t have to choose between faith and science?! There are other ways of approaching scripture?!! ...So many yes’es and so many broken rules that healed our sore hearts, and so much freedom.

So when Jesus does this in Luke 13: breaks the Sabbath, which is a gift and an invitation to be free, and sets a woman (a woman!) free from literal physical bondage on entirely the WRONG DAY OF THE WEEK; I just want to dance a jig, and often do. I think of that woman, how Jesus took hold of freedom on the day which most people considered their hands to be tied: Oh, we can’t do anything to help, it’s the Sabbath too bad so sad we won’t risk incurring God’s anger for one little woman. And Jesus said nope; you’ve got it wrong, the Sabbath is meant to free you not to bind you, the Kingdom is here now and everyday I’m letting freedom ring! Hallelujah! The entire crowd was rejoicing (verse 17), and so am I! Oh, hallelujah.

If you have been freed, or are hankering for freedom, I invite you to pray.

Jesus, so often we miss the point of your invitations.
We strap them to ourselves as weights and constrictions
When you meant them to free us.

You invite us to Sabbath
To rest
To contemplation
To community.

You invite us to think differently
About rules
About assumptions
About what the Kingdom of God looks like.  

You invite us to your revolutionary idea
That the Kingdom is now
That freedom is now
That Resurrection is resurrecting everything.

Help us to go to the scripture, to the rules, hand in hand with you.
     You guiding our thinking,
     You keeping our foot from stumbling
     You pointing out the most important bits.
Help us there to find all the freedom we expect from you
     Peace in every encounter,
     Love in every interaction,
     Joy in every invitation.


Litany for Worship

Ruler of heaven and earth:
We exalt you!
We come into your presence with singing and thanksgiving,
Because you are Good! (1)
You have reached out to us with open arms.
Your love endures forever! (2)

Heaven and earth are yours, created by you.
We belong to you!
Your beauty and power astound us.
We want to see your glory! (3)
For you are above all things and before all things,
In you all things hold together! (4)

Everything in the world that distracts and tempts us
Is nothing compared to you!
Everything that would keep us from your love,
You have overcome! (5)
Everything we need
You have provided!

For you are gracious and compassionate
Slow to anger and rich in love. (6)
We want to be in your presence always, every minute, every day.
We worship you, and you only.


(1) Psalm 100: 4,5
(2) Psalm 106
(3) Psalm 63:2
(4) Colossians 1:17
(5) Romans 8:39
(6) Psalm 145:8


Litany for Gun Violence

We are still mourning Orlando. We are still mourning Christina Gremmie. We are still mourning San Bernardino, Colorado Springs, Fort Hood, the D.C. Navy Yard, Sandy Hook, and on and on. A litany of loss. A litany of political strife and conflict and impasse. I do not profess to know the right answer to our problems. I've read some ideas that seem reasonable to me, but I see, to a limited extent, both sides of the issue. I want to help us pray from both sides of the issue.

We approach You now, in a time of mourning and lament.
How long, Oh Lord, must we wait for justice and peace?
How long must we wait for all things to be made new?

We acknowledge that guns are tools:
They have been used to defend good. They have been used to perpetrate evil.

We acknowledge that human lives lost are mounting up, tragically and abominably.
We acknowledge that the subject of gun control and gun rights is a touchy, divisive one.
We acknowledge our tendency to close our ears to the voices of those who disagree with us.
We acknowledge that policies as they stand are not working very well.
We acknowledge our distrust of government leaders to faithfully care for us.

We are afraid:
That we might not be able to protect ourselves.
That losing part of one right might set us on a path to losing them all.
That our children might grow up in a world less-civilized than our own.
That more children and innocents will lose their lives in the coming days.
That our hopes and dreams will be unobtainable in an unsafe society.
That the many will suffer for the sins of a few.
That freedom is a bygone idea.

We pray for our leaders:
May they come together in unity, seeking a way forward.
May unity be, not a pipe-dream, but a reality.
May they find a way to both protect the rights of those who would defend goodness, and deter evil-doers.
May they be guided by You toward policy that respects the rights of all, and protects innocents.
May each side set aside its own agenda in favor of the good of all.
May the good and righteous overcome the greedy and pernicious.

We pray for peace, and set our fear out in the light of Your love.
We long for the day
    When we will beat our swords into ploughshares.
    When tools for destruction will be used for creation, beauty, and sustenance.
    When the lion will lie down with the lamb, and a little child will lead them.

May the day of Christ Jesus come quickly.


Litany for Vacation

This litany was originally published on GodSpace. Many thanks to the contributors there, and for allowing me to share the occasional litany in their space.


Litany for Vacation

God, Author of fun,
We acknowledge and offer thanks for our privilege:

To be able to lay aside our daily work,
Retreat from our homes (or into them),
Absorb the beauty of Creation,
Engage in relaxation.

We acknowledge that this is not a luxury available to all people in all cultures.
We acknowledge that privilege is a tricky thing.
We acknowledge that first-world culture is not always geared toward rest and balance.
We acknowledge that all creatures need times of play and fun.

If we are able to travel, we ask for protection along the way.
If we are with our families or extended families, we ask for relational harmony.
If we have been overworked, we ask for respite and renewal.
If we have been starved for beauty, we ask for a generous serving.
If we have been starved of fun, we ask for laughing recreation.

May we dunk ourselves in rivers, lakes, and oceans,
Breathe clean air,
Look deeply into campfires,
Be comforted by dear presences,
Eat good food,
Imbibe water and wine,
Play and be childlike,
Sleep plentifully and peacefully.

And may we emerge from our vacations feeling vibrant and alive.

Litany for Trump and Hillary, or, What To Pray When You're Worried

I love to vote. The year I turned 18 was an election year, and I drove 2.5 hours from college to my hometown just so I could vote in the presidential election for my first time. I appreciate the right to vote. I think voting is, not a perfect system, but a strong one. As a woman, voting is an especially cherished right. When I think about women like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, and others who organized, were imprisoned, and in some cases died fighting for women’s suffrage - you can bet I’m damn well gonna vote.

We vote all kinds of ways: on ballots, with dollars, by participation. Some we are conscious of, some are tacit. This is human economy. This is a system of government generations of people, people we know and love, have defended to the death, mostly with honor and courage and good intentions. I’m grateful that I live in a relatively safe society (tragic events of this weekend notwithstanding, we are generally safer than, say, Syria), a relatively free one, a relatively functional one, a relatively just one; thanks to the blood, sweat, and tears of those women and men who came before me and stand around me. I think we collectively are grateful.

We’re grateful, but everyone seems worried lately. 49 people were gunned down this last weekend, which is worrisome to say the least. We are worried or angry or both. One group is worried that Trump is going to be elected president. Another group is worried that Hillary Clinton will be elected. The other group is worried by the idea of either candidate arriving in the White House as one of the most powerful politicians on the planet, potentially causing the whole voting-economy-government system to crumble. We're convinced that someone is going to send us all to hell in a handbasket.

I’m tempted to worry too. I’m tempted to stew on my bafflement. I’m tempted to judge and condemn people with whom I disagree. I’m tempted to stop trusting in Jesus and start trusting in a politician or political party or system of government to save me from my fate of brokenness, war, poverty, sickness, consumerism, greed, hatred, and power-hunger. I’m tempted to bury my head, withhold my vote, stop reading news and interacting with people, and indulge in false consolation. I’m tempted to get stuck in anger.

But here’s the thing: I don’t think there’s any voting in the Kingdom of God. I think the best system we’ve come up with for governing human beings doesn’t even come close to the goodness of God. I think our best attempts at a fair and functional economy cannot compare with the gold standard of the currency of God, which is Gracious Love. I think we cannot even conceive of the Justice of God, and our best imitation of it is only a shadow, subject to corruption. I think the best political leaders the world has ever seen will bow before Jesus along with the rest of us when he comes.


I wonder if there’s another way for me aside from worry and anger. I wonder if there is a way to walk on top of murky waters. I wonder if there’s anything I can do that might be helpful. I wonder if there’s an alternative to despair.

If you are worried and wondering too, I invite you to pray with me.


Maker of All Things, we invite You now
into our feelings of discomfort, confusion, anger, fear, and worry
over How Things are Going to Be.

We are reminded:
That Jesus did not resist the political regime of his time,
     but instead preached the Kingdom of God.
That Jesus did not condemn or punish,
     but instead healed, fed, traveled, talked, and ate meals with people.
That Jesus did not worry,
     but instead prayed when he was troubled.

We acknowledge that human leaders are flawed.
We acknowledge that human systems fall short.
We acknowledge that hardship is always present this side of eternity.

We acknowledge that Jesus will save the world.
    Not a politician. Jesus.
    Not a judge. Jesus.
    Not a celebrity or even a pastor. Jesus.
We acknowledge that Jesus has already begun that work;
    In us, with us, through us, Jesus is saving the world.
We acknowledge that the Kingdom of God is expanding, unstoppable.

We ask for Your Gracious Love.
We ask for wisdom and compassion.
We ask for strength and courage to do our best work for Your kingdom, work that will last.
We ask for goodness and mercy to follow us all the days of our lives.
We ask for our faith to grow.

We set aside worry; instead we take up grace and peace, which You offer abundantly.
We put our hope in Jesus Christ, and in His kingdom.
We give thanks that our future is safe in Your hands.



Litany for Money: A Deeper Economy

I first read the book _Deep Economy_ by Bill McKibben, sometime around 2008. It and its title have stuck with me, and spurred me on to reading several other books about Creation care and financial stewardship. For my husband and I, stewardship is a deep idea, one we value highly. We have existed in scarcity and in relative abundance. We have made wise decisions and foolish ones. We have been complicit and imperfect and fearful and hesitant and faithful and brave.

I think that in dealing with money we would do well to remember the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, as well as the Parables of the Treasure and the Pearl in Matthew 6. Not to mention the fact that, as Dave Ramsey is fond of pointing out, in the four gospels Jesus talked about money almost as much as he talked about the Kingdom of God. Whether we currently see the world from a position of scarcity or from abundance, money and stewardship seem worth praying about. Thus I give you this rather ponderous but well-meaning litany.

You created humanity, and humanity exists in an economy based on money.

We acknowledge that money profoundly affects our lives.
We acknowledge that dealing with money requires our attention and effort.
We acknowledge that the love of money is a root of evil.
We acknowledge our temptation toward greed.
We acknowledge that money and hard work are linked.
We acknowledge that money and privilege are linked.
We acknowledge that poverty is an ongoing problem, and that Your heart is for the poor.

We confess our love of money.
We confess our equating money with power and status.
We confess our squandering of resources.
We confess our hesitance to risk, to invest, and to have faith.
We confess our obsession with possessions.
We confess our worry when needs arise.
We confess our jealousy of the riches of others.

Give us our daily bread.
Give us enough, but not too much.
Give us treasure that moth and rust do not destroy.
Give us riches of life, relationships, and joy.
Give us wisdom to handle money in ways that reflect Your character.

Help us to steward well that which You choose to give us authority over.
Help us to have healthy attitudes towards money, to neither disregard nor idolize it.
Help us to use our money for Your kingdom work.
Help us to care for the needy, the orphan, and the lonely.
Help us to be generous, as You have been generous towards us.
Help us to be disciplined and work hard, and be rewarded accordingly.
Help us to save for times of need, and for pleasure.
Help us to trust in Your care and provision.

May we, Your children, exist in a deeper economy;
     not an economy based on money or power, but on grace.
May we live, not from scarcity, but from the abundance of Your kingdom.


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)
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.


Litany for Trinity Sunday

In the liturgical calendar, Trinity Sunday is celebrated the first Sunday after Pentecost, to acknowledge the Holy Trinity of God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. We have plentiful references by Jesus himself to God-Creator (Yahweh) as "Father," therefore many traditions refer to God as such. I like to make room for the idea that God-Creator is not of a specified gender, and that we are given pictures of God that by today's standards might be culturally considered masculine as well as those that might be culturally considered feminine. To that end, I have included options in parenthesis for referring to God-Creator in more gender-neutral terms. Each congregation may choose the option that resonates most strongly for its people.


God, we acknowledge You as over all and in all.
Sovereign. Ruler. Creator.
You are vast and unknowable, yet we have been given a clear portrayal of You:
Your Son, Jesus Christ.
Christ is seated with you in heaven, and has left us a Helper:
The Holy Spirit.

Your character, Your nature, Your creativity; all reflected in the various aspects of Yourself:
Father (Parent, Creator, Yahweh), Son, Holy Spirit.
Your glory reflected in all creation; indeed even in human beings,
Whom You made in Your image.

We acknowledge the mystery of the Trinity.
We acknowledge You as a whole whose parts each reflect Your self differently, yet perfectly.
We acknowledge the loving community You exist in.
We are grateful for the many ways You have shown Yourself to us.

Dwell among us now, and cause us to live in unity and love just as You do:
Father (Parent, Creator, Yahweh), Son, Holy Spirit.


Litany for Rest and Balance

Because I am a thirty-something mom whose main daily job is to take care of two small people, I end up talking to a lot of other thirty-something moms in a similar grind. The refrain I hear over and over again is: "I need rest. I need balance." We are all trying to figure out how to balance our responsibilities to our families, our household responsibilities, our relationship needs and responsibilities, our community responsibilities, our career responsibilities, and still find time for some self-actualization, soul care, and body care in the midst of it. It's tricky. I realize it's not just moms who are preoccupied with this problem either, nor is it just parents. I predict that this won't be the last prayer I write about rest and balance, but here it is, the first.

God, we hear your invitation to us:
“Come to me, you who are weary and heavy burdened. I will give you rest.”

We acknowledge our souls’ need for rest and quiet nourishment.
We lay down our burdens.
We acknowledge our souls’ need of connection with You.
We turn our intentions toward You now.

We confess our tendency to overlook rest as a necessary part of soul and self care.
We confess our pride in thinking that our work is so important that we may not set it down.
We confess our readiness to believe that what we do determines our worth.
We confess our obsession with productivity, results, measurable progress.
We confess our neglect of the good soil of our souls.
We confess our tendency to forget that it is in You that we live and move and have our being
   and that Your love is better than life.

We ask now for body, mind, spirit, whole-person nourishment.
  For rest and resurrection,
  For new life,
  For healing and consolation of our souls.
We ask for help managing our time and activities so that our
  Keep up with our

Where we have overspent ourselves
Refresh us.
Where we have misplaced our priorities
Re-arrange us.
Where we have said yes when we should have said no
Remind us.

We thank You for meaningful work; for blessings and burdens.
We thank You for rest.
May we become present to our great need for
Daily bread: the presence of Christ in our lives.



Litany for Bodies

Though I'm not currently practicing, by education and training I am a Nutritionist (M.S.). I've long been interested in the connection of body and mind, and invested a lot of time learning and thinking about how to keep human bodies healthy. I think that how we care for our bodies has bearing on how we care for our spirits. By most standards, the general health of the average American praying person is declining, although there are various schools of thought as to how best to halt the decline. I think it's an important topic for our time that is often disregarded in dualistic (i.e., body/matter = bad, spirit/mind = good; therefore taking care of body/earth isn't considered worthwhile) theological perspectives. I think our bodies are worth praying into, and worth caring for. Jesus did, after all, go around healing them routinely.

God, we set ourselves once again under Your care.
You imagined us. You formed us. You gave us to ourselves.

We remember that our bodies are temples, where You will dwell if we let You.
We remember that we are not only spiritual beings, but also physical.
We remember that the state of our bodies often reflects the state of our inner persons.

We confess that we have at times misused our gift.
We confess that we have at times overindulged and polluted.
We confess that we have at times lazed about and given way to atrophy and inertia.
We confess that we have at times given over control and responsibility to other entities outside of our connection with You.
We confess that we have at times submitted to standards with which You have nothing to do.
We confess that we have at times been overly critical, and enslaved ourselves to appearances.
We confess that we have at times overlooked or undervalued the intersection of body and soul.

If we have allowed our temples to fall into disrepair, inspire us toward betterment.
If sickness we cannot control has overwhelmed or discouraged us, we ask for healing.
If addiction has motivated our actions, we surrender control to You, asking for help.
If we have been shamed, we look to you for identity and confidence.
If busyness has been our excuse, help us to re-prioritize.

We give thanks to You for our bodies.
We give thanks to You for Creation.
We give thanks to You for nourishment and for pleasure.
We give thanks to You for the goodness that comes with exertion.
We give thanks to You for rest and stillness.

We ask for good health in body, mind, soul, and spirit.

Help us to conduct our lives with balance, moderation, and thoughtfulness.
Help us to enjoy good food, that most intimate of connections with Creation.
Help us to enjoy sun, air, soil, and creature.
Help us to become comfortable in our skins and robust in our spirits.
Help us to steward our bodies well, and to regard them as the good art they are.



Litany for Peacemaking and Forgiveness

I have been thinking a lot lately about reconciliation and peacemaking. What difficult, humble work it is! In a 24-hour period I have sent a message of apology to a person I had fallen out with many years ago, apologized to my husband for a hurt I’d dealt him, and called and apologized to a friend for yet another hurt.

We have been hurt, and we have dealt out hurt. If we haven’t already, we know we will eventually. The hardest part for me about forgiveness is that it is so open-ended, such a continual journey; and that we need it on both sides: the wrong and the wronged. We can never be certain another person has forgiven us; we can only be certain of God’s forgiveness toward us. As Bonhoeffer says, “Forgiving has neither beginning nor end, it takes place daily, for ultimately it comes from God.”

It’s probably some of the hardest work we’ll do, so we’d better pray about it.  

God, we turn our attention now to the work of peacemaking and reconciliation.
Christ is our peace.
We remember Jesus in the throes of death, offering forgiveness and peace to those who had taunted and tormented him.
Christ is our example.
We remember Jesus after his resurrection, offering forgiveness and restoration to his disciples who had denied and forsaken him.
Christ is our leader.

We acknowledge that we have wronged others and been wronged by others,
And need forgiveness applied to both.

Help us to forgive others as we have been forgiven by You,
For in forgiving, we find peace and freedom.
Help us to have humility and courage
   To admit when we are wrong
   To confess and apologize
   To make amends to those we have hurt.

We acknowledge that forgiveness benefits the forgiver
And that we can never force others to forgive us.
We acknowledge that we may never see the results of our peacemaking
But that you see our hearts.

We thank you God, for removing our transgressions from us
Thanks be to God
We ask for hearts conformed to the way of Christ
Ready to offer peace; willing to forgive and be forgiven.



Litany for Boldness (and Bonhoeffer)

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian who opposed the Nazi regime and was martyred in 1945.

God, we are reminded that Love is action.
As You actively love the world, we must actively love each other.
We must push past our comfort zones, reticence, and general inertia,
Allowing ourselves to be moved by the engine of Love.

We confess our tendency to withdraw.
We confess our desire to put our own safety and convenience above all.
We confess our quickness to downplay the needs of the poor, the plight of injustice.
We confess that we would often prefer to ignore the evil in our midst.
We confess that we often value our reputation above following Christ.
We confess our self-centeredness.

We ask for hearts aflame with the Love of Christ.
We ask for patience to endure suffering.
We ask for courage to pray for and love our enemies.
We ask for strength to accomplish the work of peace.

Where injustice, poverty, and wrong-doing abound,
May we do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.
When laziness and complicity would overwhelm us,
May we be empowered by Your spirit to renew our efforts.

We look to Christ, the model of loving sacrifice,
And to those saints throughout the ages who have lived and died for the cause of Love.
May we listen and act with confidence and boldness,
And find our reward in the joy of Your presence.



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.



Litany for Grief

I am hoping this prayer will be of use to those looking for resources for expressing grief and lamentation in a congregational or small group setting; but I also hope it will be helpful to some individuals experiencing personal grief. The opening lines are taken from a song I co-wrote called "I Cannot Live Without You" published by Vineyard, which can be found here.

God of Mercy, God of Tenderness, God of Nurture, God of Love
God-Provider, God-Comforter, God-Sustainer, God-with-us:
Be with us now in our mourning, and in our sadness.

We acknowledge that the only way out of our grief is through it.
We acknowledge that we must pay attention to our emotions in order to be whole persons.
We acknowledge that we would often rather avoid our sadness than pay attention to it.
We acknowledge that grief can be sticky, unpredictable, and hard to shake off.
We acknowledge that there are some mountains we cannot move under our own power.

Over and over, You have shown us that You are good, and Your love endures forever.
We know that You lovingly show us this often, because we are apt to forget.
We know that Your goodness does not necessarily safeguard us from pain. 
We know that our pain does not negate Your goodness.

Help us to walk faithfully through our pain and sadness.
Help us to engage in lamentation, in the tradition of the saints who came before us.
Help us to remember that our anger, sadness, disappointment, and grief do not put you off.
Help us to be moving forward:
     Toward growth
     Toward wisdom
     Toward emotional health
     Toward wholeness
     Toward reconciliation between our faith and our emotions.

We are helpless, and require Christ’s assistance.
We are undone, and require re-making.
We are brokenhearted, and require healing.
We are poor in spirit, and in need of the kingdom of Heaven.



Litany for Our Enemies + That Time I Accidentally Told My Kid About ISIS

*I'm sharing a story along with a litany today. I usually try to keep strictly to the prayers, but maybe sometimes a story will give context for how a litany can be a useful place to go, a useful tool in a kit for coping with the reality of evil and posturing ourselves towards Jesus.

I accidentally told my 5 year old daughter about ISIS. Oops.

The conversation started at bedtime, as many of our deep conversations do, in those still moments when mostly I’m feeling antsy and ready to be done parenting for the day but am trying to remain present and sing songs, talk quietly, help them decompress for sleep. I don’t even really remember how we got started, but I was caught off guard and unprepared for the line of questioning, and ISIS has been on my mind so therefore I let the ISIS cat out of the bag. I also have this pesky value for telling my kids the truth that sometimes trips me up.

I think we were talking about kindness, and in the context of that I said the word “violence.”

What’s violence?
It’s doing things that hurt people.
Like being mean?
Yes. We want to be kind, not violent.
But some people are violent?
Yes, some people are.
You mean some people are mean?
Where do they live?
Well, there are mean people everywhere, but I don’t think you know any.
(My kid just learned that mean people exist. Hallelujah. Christ, have mercy.)
Well, there are some mean people in a place far away called the Middle East, they call themselves ISIS.
(Oh I have done it now. Instant regret. No turning back now.)
What do they do? Do they kill people?
Yes, they do. They do violence.
How do they do it? With bow and arrows? With guns?
(Here is where my head is finally on straight and I refuse to mention bombs. I deflect, for better or worse.)
Why do they do it?
I think they are confused about what God’s way is. God’s way is love, peace, and beauty.
Do they have neighbors and friends? Do they try to hurt them?
They have neighbors; I don’t know if they have friends.
Are they sad and lonely?
I think they might be.
What do the neighbors do?
I think some try to help them change, and some try to move away to a safer place.

You and me both, sister. Now, let me pause here and say that this is an abbreviated version of the conversation, and that my mind was churning with how best to respond. There were a lot of other questions. (Do they wear red and black clothes? They wear regular clothes.) (How do you know about them? I read the news.) She is a very empathetic soul, and I don’t want her up in the night worrying about terrorists and refugees at age 5. But I do want to give her a place to go with the sorrow. So I say:

Jesus tells us to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.”
What’s persecute?
Be mean to. Would you like to pray for ISIS and their neighbors?
Jesus please bless the people of ISIS. Please show them your way of love, peace, and beauty. Please change their hearts and show them kindness. Help them not to be confused about God’s way.
Help their neighbors find a safe place. Help the mean people become kind.


I held hands with my sweet little daughter, lying in her little bed, and prayed for the redemption of ISIS. This is the story of how my parenting gaffe made possible a moment of impossible beauty and sadness. My head is still swimming with it. And isn’t this typical of Jesus? To hide a core of beauty within apparent sadness? Isn’t this exactly what happened on Resurrection Day? So, there is sadness that my child must eventually have the knowledge of good and evil, and that other children live in the lap of evil daily; but there is beauty that THERE IS ALWAYS PRAYER. There is always a beautiful way to follow. There is always hope. And there is always, always forgiveness and redemption.

I invite you to pray now:

Resurrected Jesus, we call upon your mercy now.
We ask you to turn your attention to our enemies, those who do violence and terror, who kill and destroy.
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
We ask you to bless, love, and redeem them; to show them the kindness of your heart.
We ask you to lovingly clear up their misunderstanding of God’s way.
We ask you to care for and protect those innocents around them.
We ask you to bring them all, violent and innocent, into the safety of your kingdom.



Litany for a Terrorized City

*I originally wrote this litany as a response to the attack on Brussels on March 22, 2016. I later learned that many other places in the world were attacked by ISIS during the surrounding time period, attacks that never made headline news. This litany can be used to pray for folks in any location that has experienced terrorism. I wish it weren't true that we might have use for a general prayer for terrorized cities. Christ, have mercy.

God, we cry out to You on behalf of the people of [Brussels, Belgium].
     For the families and friends of those killed in the attacks, we cry.
     For those wounded, we cry.
     For the bystanders, those shocked and terrified, we cry.
     For the emergency workers, giving tirelessly of themselves, we cry.
     For those in government and law enforcement, we cry.
     For the residents of the city, stranded and immobilized, we cry.
     For a world beset by evil, we cry.

We commend the souls lost into Your care,
And ask for healing and comfort for those that remain.

These events bring us into a place of questioning:
     Of Your goodness
     Of Your sovereignty
     Of the nature of humanity
     Of the future of the world
     Of how we might move forward.

We commend those questions into Your care,
     Asking You for wisdom
     Asking You for hope
     Asking You for courage to continue on in good work
     Asking You for help in overcoming
     Asking You for comfort in trouble
     Asking You for a heart of love toward our enemies
     Asking You for justice.

We acknowledge that our lives are precious, vulnerable, and often short.
We acknowledge that safety is never guaranteed.
We acknowledge our inability to perfectly follow Jesus’ example
     of meekness, forgiveness, and peacemaking.
We acknowledge that when Jesus took upon himself the wrongdoing of the world,
he took terrorism also.

We look toward the completion of Jesus’ work.
We look toward the fullness of Your kingdom come,
And Your will done on earth as it is in heaven. 

We look toward the day when the whole world is aligned with the law of love.

Be near to the brokenhearted, close in Your compassion and lovingkindness, Generous in Your giving of understanding.



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.