Litany for Daily Gratitude

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Yesterday I had a conversation with my best friend; we talked about gratitude journaling. Then after I hung up the phone some unsettling news came in which is requiring a lot of processing. Then a jagged-feeling morning with a flurry of activity: school prep, errands, planning, processing the unsettling thing, food prep, forgotten items, details, details. 4yo’s lunchbox has been left at school over the holidays and leaks putrid juices all over me when I retrieve it; home to change clothes. Resetting our tastebuds with a round of Whole 30, making us feel carb-bereft and put-upon. Get things done, tackle problems, talk with another friend about the unsettling thing, go on twitter, read bad news during lunch, a mostly ordinary day.

But there in my lunchtime feed is that delightful Ann Voskamp, reminding me that “a song of thanks steadies everything.” That the answer to anxiety is rejoicing.

And there it is again: the lifeline of gratitude to which I, melancholy and suspicious being that I am, cling resolutely; day after day, year after year, litany after litany.  This is a fill-in-the-blank prayer. You insert <the thing you are personally grateful for> into the line.

 

God, lately we have been inundated
With excess, both good and bad;
So much so that we have trouble
Discerning the ordinary gifts.

In your presence, we daily train ourselves
To exalt Christ,
To count blessings,
To practice thankfulness,
To pray at all times in the spirit,
To rejoice.

We give thanks for ordinary gifts:
Food on our tables
Friends within reach
Clean air and water
Warmth and shelter
Breath.

For the blessing of <an object or objects>, we give thanks.
For the blessing of <a person or people>, we give thanks.
For the blessing of <an experience>, we give thanks.
For the blessing of <a moment>, we give thanks.
For the blessing of <a comment or conversation>, we give thanks.
For the blessing of <a book or artwork>, we give thanks.
For the blessing of <a pleasure>, we give thanks.
For the blessing of <a comestible>, we give thanks.

We rejoice in the blessing of Christ:
Through whom all things were made,
From whom every good and perfect gift is made available,
In whose presence we are made alive.
 

Amen.

Litany for End-of-year Reflection

God, with your help we have come here,
To the end of another year,
Some bearing smiles,
Others bearing scars.

We reflect upon your goodness now
Your constant Presence,
Your unfailing love,
Your kind regard.

You offer peace.
We accept.
You offer nearness.
We accept.
You offer a new life.
We accept.
You offer transformed hearts.
We accept.

Heal us where we are wounded.
Sort us where we are confused.
Sweeten us where we are bitter.
Open us where we are shut-down.

For all the ways you’ve revolutionized our hearts and minds this year
We give thanks.
For the improvements to our character,
We give thanks.
For challenges tackled and trials endured,
We give thanks.
For disappointments that have re-oriented us,
We give thanks.
For pain that has disciplined us,
We give thanks.
For love that has soothed us,
We give thanks.
For the light of Christ, whose life has illumined the path of peace,
We give thanks.

Amen
 

A Litany for Thanksgiving

I wrote this litany last year, before I had this site. I've written more litanies on the topic of gratitude than any other topic, and I hope it stays that way. I hope I can always hang on to a grateful heart.

Recently I tweeted this to my 54 twitter followers:
"If I die and the words "Jesus," "equality," and "prayer" don't appear in my epitaph, you'll all know I didn't fulfill my calling."

Now I think I would amend that to include the word "gratitude."

 


To the God of heaven and earth, creator of people and creatures, author of seasons and of time:
We give thanks.
In this season of reflection, we look back over our lives and over the year past, and we acknowledge the ways that you have shaped us.
We give thanks.
We acknowledge the ways that things have not been perfect, and we have fallen short.
We give thanks.
We reflect on the difficulties we have encountered, and the sorrows we’ve borne.
We give thanks.
We remember the times you have seemed near to us, and the times we have been so engrossed in our own lives that we couldn’t sense your presence.
We give thanks.
We confess those times we have failed to help, and missed opportunities to love.
We give thanks.

In joy and in sorrow, in triumph and in failure,
We give thanks.
In prosperity and in loss, in ease and in difficulty,
We give thanks.

We rest in the knowledge that your purposes are accomplished both with and despite us, and we understand that every part of our journey is an opportunity for us to grow.
We give thanks.
We rest in the peace of your kindness and soak up your overflowing love, which is always directed toward us, regardless of whether we are willing to receive it.
We give thanks.

May we go forward, walking in that same kindness, passing peace to all we meet, and loving generously and intentionally.
We give thanks.
And may gratitude be reaped and sown in our hearts
We give thanks.

Amen

 

 

Litany for Ten Lepers

The Lectionary passage for October 9 from the Gospels is Luke 17:11-19. It is the story of Jesus healing ten lepers. Of the ten healed, only one returns to worship at Jesus' feet and express gratitude. The lepers would have been considered the dregs of society, the forgotten, the most avoided. They kept their distance from Jesus, and yet they are recipients of his mercy even from afar. All ten were healed, but only the grateful one drew near to him to worship.
 

God, who sent Christ
Who has mercy on the leper, the foreigner, the unseen
On those who keep their distance
Hovering on the edges of society:

You bring the unclean near to you.
Draw us near, now, to your merciful love.

We want to be like the one who came back:
The one who receives healing with a grateful heart
Who asks for mercy, and in receiving it,
Rejoices and worships at your feet.

We thank you, Oh God,
You heal our diseases and make us clean.
You give a home to the homeless,
You give food and drink to empty bellies,
You care for the foreigner and the orphan.
You raise up those who are powerless and forgotten.
Hallelujah!
Thanks and praise are yours forever!
Hallelujah!
Peace and healing are in your hands.

May our hearts be attuned both to the mercy we may offer,
And to the mercy of God we receive daily in drawing close to Christ.

Amen

Litany for Privilege

The other day I gave an exasperated lecture to one of my kids. My kids are 3 and 5, so I’ll admit it may have been developmentally inappropriate, but I was frustrated and venting and I figure I may as well start them early at recognizing their privilege. The lecture went something like this:


Why are you whining and complaining all the time?! I’m sick of hearing it. You have a beautiful, wonderful life. You are safe. You have a mama and papa who love and adore you. You have a sister who is your friend and who loves you. You have aunts and uncles and grandparents who love you. You play outside all the time. You go on nice outings. You eat nice food. You sleep in a comfy bed in an air-conditioned room. You have plenty of clean clothes. Every aspect of your life is cared for. Do you know what this whining and complaining is called? It’s called ingratitude. That is when we don’t thank God for the blessings God gives us and we don’t appreciate them, and God doesn’t like it and I DON'T EITHER.

So. This mama may have taken a few deep cleansing breaths after that. This mama may have thought about how this child is unable to see her privilege because she has never known anything else. This mama may have realized she was lecturing herself, and recognized that the lecture may have caused a new swell of gratitude in her own heart, and a new commitment to helping her kids learn compassion.

 

God, this life here on earth is a mixed bag
Of joy and pain
Grief and exuberance
Stillness and frenzy.

We don’t get to choose where we are born, or to whom,
But we know you made us and we are your children.

Open our eyes to all the ways we are blessed
That we may share and bless others.
Open our eyes to all the ways we have been born to privilege
That we may live with grateful hearts.

In many ways we are born to pain.
Let us bear one another’s burdens.
In many ways we are born weak and blind.
Let us be kind to one another.
In many ways we are born to poverty.
Let us know the riches of your grace.
In many ways the privilege we are born to blinds us to the pain of others.
Let us be considerate of our brothers and sisters.

May we spread goodness and mercy wherever we go
Regardless of where we come from.
May we find healing and acceptance with you
And know you as the one who gives good gifts.

Amen.

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.

Amen.



 

Litany for Gratitude

To You, O God, we give thanks.

We give thanks for the morning, when joy comes to us.
We give thanks for the evening, when we meditate on your love.
We give thanks for the in-between, the working hours, the accomplishing hours; when we must practice gratitude amidst distraction and busyness.
We give thanks for the long dark of night, when our souls and bodies assimilate and regenerate.

We give thanks for the people we love effortlessly, but also for the people who chafe and challenge us.
We give thanks for our enemies, who teach us to bless and forgive.
We give thanks for our families, who teach us grace and forbearance.
We give thanks for those whose lives we touch only momentarily - may we be a lasting blessing.

We give thanks for the boisterous, jubilant seasons. 
We give thanks for the subtle, quiet seasons. 
We give thanks for the seasons of difficulty and pain. 
May we emerge from each bearing the image of Christ Jesus.

We give thanks both when we are certain, and when uncertainty plagues us; both in the black and white, and in the gray.

We give thanks to You, acknowledging that every drop and morsel that sustains us comes from Your hand; that our place in the universe exists because You created it; and that Your purposes exceed the bounds of our imagining.

Litany for New Year’s Day

Faithful God, we look back on the year behind us and appreciate Your presence with us through it. We look ahead at the year before us with hope, and anticipate Your continuing love and the fulfillment of your promises.

In this new year, grant that we may become
more faithful
more committed to your kingdom work
more knowledgeable of your ways
more familiar with your spirit
more pliant to your instruction
more willing to give of ourselves to others

We pray for increase
of love
of storehouses full of good things to share
of relational harmony and peace
of health
of meaningful work
of balance among work, play, and rest
of personal growth and wisdom
of grateful hearts
and most of all, of your presence and power among us.

May we hear your voice more clearly, and heed it.
May we be aware of the limits of our understanding, and work to expand them.
May the words of Christ dwell in us richly.
May we be vigilant for those around us who are in need and tend to them.
May we experience anew the rebirth and resurrection life of Jesus.
May we complete the tasks you set before us, love well those souls you give to our care, and make good use of the time we are given on the earth.

We are grateful for Your love, kindness, and care.
Amen