Litany for Compassion Fatigue (Proper 11, Year B)

In this week's Gospel reading, we see a tired Christ surrounded by tired disciples, looking for some rest and respite from their work. But they can't find it, even when they get on a boat and sail away to an empty place. Crowds of the sick and needy still find them there. And Christ sees the crowd and Mark's gospel says "he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd."

If you are suffering from compassion fatigue in these times, you're not alone. Maybe this litany will be helpful to you.

 

God, we bear witness to Christ:
In scripture,
In spirit,
And in our own experience.

We see the times when he and his disciples were exhausted
By the constant cries of distressed people,
By exerting themselves in service
By crowds and noise and need.

We have felt those same feelings,
And needed similar rest.

Help us not to grow irritable or resistant
To the needs of human beings;
But to have compassion for your people,
The sheep of your pasture.
For we are among them,
Hungry and in need of healing;
Hoping to touch the fringe of Christ’s cloak (Mark 6:56),
Hoping for miracles.

Help us to find respite from noise and distraction
And find connection with you,
Life with you,
Nourishment with you,
Peace with you,
Rest with you.

As as we daily enter the quiet place of restoration,
May we find you there.
And when we must go a little farther, pour out a little more,
May we receive our strength from you.
Amen

Ordinary Time (Year B): Litany for Crazy ol' Jesus

The Lectionary passages for Proper 5 (Year B) contain the story of the time Jesus' family thought he had gone crazy. His ideas and practices were so far outside of their comfort zone that they thought he'd gone nuts. The text says: “When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, "He has gone out of his mind" (Mark 3:21).

This is what I love about him. Unexpected, unconventional, challenger of expectations and assumption; dumping old paradigms for what's sane and respectable and inventing new ones made out of entirely different stuff.

 

Christ, you arrived on earth with a lot of harebrained ideas.
People thought you were crazy
For your unconventional brand of kindness,
For breaking rules,
For making unexplainable miracles happen,
For re-interpreting scripture,
For rejecting violent means ,
For consorting with sinners,
For re-defining family (1);
For giving unexpected advice:
     Like, love your enemies
     Be humble
     Pray for those who persecute you
     Don’t judge
     Consider the poor
     Make peace.

You baffled everybody you met, from the time you were a child.
You’re still astounding us now.

It’s this same unpredictable grace,
This dazzling mercy,
This lively Love
This upside-down agenda,
That captures our imaginations many years after you last walked the earth in flesh.
We are captivated by you.

Look, here are our hearts:
Put your own heart in us.
Look, here are our minds:
Awaken them.
Look, here are our hands:
Show us the work to do.
Look, here are our voices:
Teach us to speak mercy.

You, crazy old Jesus! You ineffable Force of Love:
You’re the one we want to follow.

Amen
 

1) Mark 3:35

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


 

Litany for Unburdening

This week's Old Testament story is the account of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac. God stops him, and gives him a ram to sacrifice instead. Abraham had already experienced quite a few miracles up until this point, but I still wonder if he was surprised. Did he feel a weight of dread lift from his shoulders? Did he feel unburdened when he realized he no longer had to prove his obedience to God, that God was merciful?

 

Creator and Lover of our Souls, you have done a mighty work:
We are free, Hallelujah!
Sacrifice and burnt offerings you haven’t required of us (1)
We don’t have to save ourselves.
You claimed the burden of proof in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ:
We don’t have anything more to prove!

We were slaves to our material lives
Slaves to our reputations and success
Slaves to our own selfish limitations
Slaves to earning and hoarding
Slaves to fear and retaliation
Slaves to shame and darkness.

And now we are free, Hallelujah! (2)
Free to speak peace into being (3).
Free to bend swords into plowshares (4)
Free to offer mercy and serve grace.
Free to share generously from your abundance.
Free to embrace joy.

The mystery of your plan and the goodness of your heart
Are all that consumes us now.
We walk along, singing
Because you have dealt bountifully with us. (5)

Amen

1) Psalm 40:6
2) Romans 6:17,18
3) Jeremiah 28:9
4) Isaiah 2:4
5) Psalm 13:6