Litany for Revealing

Last week’s news about large-scale sexual abuse of children by clergy in a Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania has shaken and sickened a lot of people, myself included. It’s another example of the great revealing (apocalypse) that is happening in these days. Hidden things are coming to light. #metoo and #churchtoo are happening. White supremacy and racism are coming to the forefront of the collective consciousness in a new way. Motives and deep-seated sins, what the scriptures call “powers, principalities, and spiritual forces,” are being revealed. Evils that have gone unacknowledged (in a mainstream way) are coming into light.

I believe this is the Community of Heaven breaking in. And our task is not to resist it, but to become contemplative, to listen and examine our complicities, to search our own hearts; to “get our people,” as my Black teachers say - by which they mean we should be speaking to our own tribes and inner circles and helping them get on board and understand.

Whenever I think of what’s been happening the last couple of years*, I get the image in my mind of a glacier moving over a land mass, slowly slowly, leaving behind a mess of rubble and fertile soil and reshaped landscape. Our first step is admitting our landscape needs reshaping, which we can’t see unless we step back far enough to get a good view. The evidence is in every school shooting, every Black life ended by police, every Nazi rally, every sexual abuse scandal, every Latinx child separated from her parents at the border, every executed prisoner, and on and on. Without a doubt, our landscape needs reshaping.

And it’s coming. Millimeter by millimeter. Breath by breath. Prayer by prayer. Awakening by awakening. It’s coming and is happening now. The kingdom of God is at hand. The Community of Heaven has work to do. We shirk and deny and resist and cling to the past at our own risk. Help or get out of the way.

 

God, forces are at work in our world,
Which are at odds with your goals:
Death and destruction,
Injustice and abuse,
Apathy and self-centeredness,
Violence and hatred,
Status quo and inertia,
Distraction and disregard.

Evil is being revealed,
And hidden sins brought to light.
But ahead we can see,
Your kingdom coming,
Your people awakening,
Your glory shining.

We can see how today’s messy revealing
Is tomorrow’s hope,
How the rubble of today’s destroyed systems
Is tomorrow’s fertile soil.

So we trust,
And we follow,
And we stay awake
And we keep watch.
And we don’t shirk our work,
And we don’t deny our complicity,
And we don’t disempower the prophets,
And we don’t silence the marginalized.
And we don’t surround ourselves with so much noise that we can’t hear your voice.
And we don’t allow ourselves to despair.

We beat our swords into ploughshares.
We set our tables and open our doors.
We make way for the Community of God.
We prepare the way of the Lord.

Help us to humbly accept all the change that must happen,
In our society and in our own hearts,
To work together for new life and for good,
And to walk the peaceful way of Christ. Amen

 

*Really, what's been happening has been happening for a couple millenia, with various movements and intensities. I'm taking a micro-within-a-macro view here. With lots of gratitude and appreciation for the saints who have gone before me.
 

Litany for Repentance From Bigotry

Yesterday I had the poignant honor of reading two of my litanies, one for an interfaith vigil honoring and mourning those 50 LGBTQ+ persons killed in the attack in Orlando, and another at a subsequent vigil hosted by Austin Pride.  A couple of Muslim leaders spoke, calling for an end to violence, extolling the mercy and compassion of God. Several members of the LGBTQ+ community spoke, exhorting the community to combat hate with love. The mayor of Austin and a few other local politicians spoke. A Rabbi gave a lovely blessing and sang peace over us. A handful of Christians spoke (I actually prefer the term Follower of Jesus, but, ahem), myself included along with Ben, one of the pastors of my church.

I hardly know how I got there, except I know somebody who knows somebody, and so forth, and Ben brought me along, and somehow following Jesus tends to take us to unexpected places (the glorious run-on sentence of faith-life). I am nobody these people know, so why should they listen to me? I have no title, nor am I technically a vocational “faith leader.” And yet, there I was, hands full of prayers I’ve written, being handed a microphone. Prayers about grief, terrorism, justice and equality, suffering. The best I could offer to a wounded community.

I thanked God that I had written these prayers, that they were ready and available and potentially helpful in a time of deep tragedy, at the same time that I felt sad that I’d ever had to write such prayers; sad that we must have language for such grief.

In between the two vigils, a group of hundreds of us marched down the streets of Austin with a police escort, from one vigil to another, demonstrating our solidarity with those who have been lost, and with the vibrant community who lost them. I had never been to an event like this. I had never even considered events like this to be of much use; obviously, I got schooled. I’d never really understood the point of marching. I’d never understood that marching is more about the hearts of the people who march than it is about observers or political statements or news-making.

Marching, Marching, down Congress

Marching, Marching, down Congress

I thought of that horde of folks, marching around the Galilean countryside, traipsing after Jesus; they had gotten so focused on following that they neglected to bring food. They needed Jesus to feed them in more ways than one. I thought of Jesus’ compassion on them, on their hunger, when he could have said too bad so sad you dummies walked out into the wilderness uninvited with no food. What must those folks have felt as they marched? What was happening in their hearts? I can tell you I still don’t fully understand marching but I have a new appreciation for it.  There is something to be said for walking with people.

I am not a part of the LGBTQ+ community, not even peripherally. But I have a new level of love for those folks and what they’ve endured, what they are still enduring. I want to stand in solidarity with them in their grief and loss and fear and in the great temptation to give hate for hate. I have been given a new heart, yet again. As I spoke to folks and looked in their eyes I felt anew the love of God for each person, going out, going out, going out; just like it always does.

A bigot is a person who is intolerant of people who have a different way of thinking. I have never considered myself a bigot (who does?). In fact I have tried hard to NOT be a bigot. I know a few bigots and they aren’t pleasant people (and yet the Love of God is going out, going out, going out to them). But I think there are ways bigotry slips in unacknowledged. I think there are ways I have been bigoted without even realizing it. There are patterns of thought my mind has followed that were maybe taught to me, or maybe assumed, and that maybe ignorance has perpetuated.

So I offer this prayer, along with an invitation for you to come alongside me in praying it.

 

Compassionate God,
Have mercy on us sinners.

We confess our blindness.
We confess our small-mindedness.
We confess our tendency to think that what we think about the hearts of others is always true.
We confess our judgment and suspicion of things and people unfamiliar to or different from us.
We confess our inability to perfectly follow the Way of Love.

Of bigotry, we repent.
Of condemnation, we repent.
Of lack of compassion, we repent.
Of ignorance, we repent.
Of unwillingness to walk with people You love, we repent.

Keep on giving us new hearts.
Keep on shaping our minds and our perspectives.
Keep on training us in the Way of Love.
Keep on refreshing our understanding of Jesus.
Keep on expanding our minds, even as Your Kingdom is expanding.
Don’t give up on us, even when we are stubborn and self-righteous.

Amen