Litany for Back to School

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God, as our children return to the rhythm of the school year,
We ask for blessing upon them:
That they may learn and grow,
That they may make and be good friends,
That they may have their minds opened,
That their hearts may be soft,
That they may be protected from evil,
That they may be filled with love.

As they make independent decisions each day
Be with them.
As they work and play
Be with them.
As they relate to other people
Be with them.
As they navigate tricky situations
Be with them.
As they confront their own hearts
Be with them.

For their teachers we pray for endless wells of patience-
Let it be so;
Wisdom and insight into each child-
Let it be so;
Creativity and abundant resources-
Let it be so;
Blessings on earth and in the spirit -
Let it be so;

We know that safety is never guaranteed for anyone,
But we ask for it anyway -
That your angels would guard and keep them,
That kind people would surround them.

Give us wisdom as we raise and teach them,
To model kindness, empathy, and awareness,
To encourage creativity and open-mindedness,
And to love and welcome them whole-heartedly.
Amen

Litany for the Border

If you're unaware of what's happening currently at the US Border, please read up on it. And pray.
 

Oh God, we lament the trauma that is happening to asylum seekers at the U.S. Border
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for an end to separation of families, the desperation of parents and children, and the degradation of their dignity.
Lord, have mercy.

We lament the violence and corruption that is forcing these immigrants to leave their home countries.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for an end to corrupt government, violent power structures, and poor living conditions in Central America.
Lord, have mercy.

We lament the policy decisions enacted by our own U.S. leadership that have led to the traumatizing of children and infants.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for humane and just legislation to be passed by congress immediately.
Lord, have mercy.

We lament our own societal apathy, our tendency to be blind and uncaring toward the alien, the refugee, the orphan, the widow.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for the reformation of our own hearts, that we may have the compassion and wisdom of Christ.
Lord, have mercy.

For peace in Central America,
We pray to the Lord.
For humane practices at our borders,
We pray to the Lord.
For just and compassionate government here at home,
We pray to the Lord.
For loving hearts toward all seeking safety,
We pray to the Lord.  

May the love of Christ compel and bind us, from the poorest and most powerless to the most privileged and powerful.
May the light of Christ shine upon us all. Amen

Litany for the Children and Families of Syria

How Long, Lord, will you look on?
Rescue [them] from their ravages,
[Their] precious li[ves] from these lions...
Awake and rise to [their]defense!
Contend for [them], [our] God and Lord!
 - from Psalm 35

"Omran, Angels are Here" painting by Judith Mehr. ( via )

"Omran, Angels are Here" painting by Judith Mehr. (via)


God, we weep with you over the war in Syria.
Our brothers and sisters are in despair.
This war is without end:
The unending unthinkable.

We weep with the mothers
Who have lost their babies in deadly chemical attacks.
We weep with the fathers
Who cannot keep their families safe from harm.
We weep with the orphaned children
Whose parents have been separated from them.
We weep with these families
Who are our family.

Let your angels surround them in their distress.
Let your mercy come to them.
Let your peace be a miracle among them.
Let your life be a victory over death.

Rescue them, Lord God.
Move mountains to save them.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Amen

Little Litanies: Psalm 23

I’m teaching my five-year-old this version of Psalm 23 that I wrote/mashed up. It’s a mix of influences from the NIV and the MSG, and some simplifications of my own invention. I wanted to create a version that a very young child can connect with, but that retains some of the beauty and imagery of the original and can serve as a touchstone prayer for comfort and encouragement and a reminder of the loving presence of God. I also wanted it to be accessible to a kid who is not being raised in an agrarian society, and for whom metaphors are not yet obvious (1).


God, you’re my shepherd.
I am your sheep.(2)
You give me everything I need.

You let me rest in green meadows
And drink from peaceful waters.
You refresh my soul.
You guide me so that I can honor you.

Even if I’m in a dark, scary place,
I’m not afraid because you are with me.
You comfort and encourage me.

You prepare a party for me,
And ask me to invite my enemies. (3)
You put oil on my head. (4)
My blessings are overflowing.

My whole life is full of your beauty and love,
And my home is with you. (5)

Amen

 

  1. For instance, just recently I had drawn a picture of a cucumber wearing a t-shirt that said “Eat me” and put it in her lunchbox. Her response: “Why did you give me a picture of a cucumber with no pants!?!...<a pause for consideration>...OOOooh, because you put cucumbers in my lunch and you wanted me to eat them!”

  2. This line is not in the original Psalm. I added it, again because the metaphor is not obvious to a digital-age five-year-old.

  3. Yep, I’m taking a liberty here. I’m mixing in the sermon on the mount (Matt 5:44). I used to think this line was about gloating. Now I think it’s about inviting.

  4. My kid is familiar with this concept, because I anoint her head with essential oils regularly.

  5. These two lines are much like Eugene Peterson’s in the MSG.



     

Litany for Kindergarten

Oh God, ever-present and ever-loving
Be near to our little ones
As they venture out
Into the wide world.

May their first steps be confident,
Their first interactions pleasant,
Their first impressions positive,
Their first lessons lasting.

We have tried to raise them well, to teach them to be
     Smart,
     Kind,
     Generous,
     Brave, and
     Strong;
And to instill in them their belovedness
     By you
     And by us.

Bless us with wisdom to parent them well in this new season,
Neither hovering nor disconnected;
Attuned, but acknowledging and encouraging their emerging selves;
Gentle, caring, and patient always.

We ask you to bless and keep them
To protect them from harm
To keep them from temptation,
And rescue them from evil.

Be a friend to them, present and accessible.

We entrust them to you in the hours that they are out of our care,
The same as we entrust them to you when they are with us.
Again and again, we entrust them to you.
Their whole lives long and beyond, we entrust them to you.

Amen


 

Little Litanies: Bedtime

Here's a simple, memorable rhyming bedtime prayer for kids. If you ask me, loads better than the "if I should die before I wake" business that's been striking fear into the hearts of children for a few hundred years.

Jesus, thank you for this day.
Jesus, thank you for the way
You cared for us and kept us safe;
Gave us food and gave us play.

Jesus, thank you for your love;
And while we’re sleeping, dreaming of
Tomorrow’s fun and today’s fresh air,
Your love we breathe; Your peace we share.

Little Litanies: Help, Jesus!

In this kid-friendly litany, kids are invited to say or shout “Help, Jesus!” as the simple refrain. The grown-up reader could use a hand signal to communicate to the kids that it’s time to say their part.

Jesus, we know that you love and care for us and hear us when we pray:
Help, Jesus!

In all things, at all times, we can pray:
Help, Jesus!
When we feel scared, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When we feel sad, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When we have misbehaved and gotten in trouble, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When are sick or have hurt ourselves, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When we have hurt others and need forgiveness, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When others have hurt us and we need to forgive them, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When we have a grumpy, bad attitude, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When we are tempted to disobey our parents or teachers, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When we have to do hard things, we pray:
Help, Jesus!

Our whole lives long, we want to remember you and pray:
Help Jesus!

Amen