Litany for Hatred

This week's Lectionary...

You shall not render an unjust judgment;
you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great:
with justice you shall judge your neighbor.
You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people,
and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor:
I am the LORD.
You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin;
you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself.
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people,
but you shall love your neighbor as yourself:
I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:15-18)

"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' (Matthew 22:36-39)

 

God, we acknowledge that, at some point in our lives, we all harbor hatred in our hearts.
Forgive us, oh God.
We all, at some point, render unjust judgements on others.
Forgive us, oh God.
Instead of loving our enemies, we have hated them.
Forgive us, oh God.
Instead of welcoming the stranger, we have shunned them.
Forgive us, oh God.
Instead of listening to the voices of those who are different from us, we have silenced them.
Forgive us, oh God.

We have sat silently by while others gave way to hatred.
We have hated and been hated.
We have forgotten that all humanity is our kin.
We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.

We have hated those who’ve hurt us
Those with whom we disagree politically or theologically
Those whose color, ethnicity, appearance, gender or orientation is different from ours.
Those whose sins are different from ours.
Those whose customs are different from ours.
Those whom we perceive as dangerous.

Scour our hearts free of hatred
Fill us full of love instead -
Lovingkindness from your heart.
Let no injustice remain among us.
Rescue us from the walls that divide us,
And bring us back to Holy Communion.
Amen

 

Litany for Self-Love

This litany was originally written to accompany a sermon I preached at Peace of Christ church. You can find the sermon here. The sermon uses this week's Lectionary reading from Romans 7.
 

Loving Creator, we confess that, in general, we are bad at loving ourselves.
Help us, oh God.
Many of us have been criticized mercilessly and have simply accepted the habit of it.
Help us, oh God.

Help us to regard ourselves with the same kindness and patience
With which you regard us.
Help us to lay down our judgements of ourselves and others
And to leave the judging to you.
Help us to see ourselves and everyone around us in the light of love,
Which is your own light.
Help us to feed, nourish, care for, and live into our True Self,
Which is your love in us.

We acknowledge that we live among tensions and paradoxes that are not always easy to parse out:
    Good and evil
    Light and darkness
    Flesh and spirit
We acknowledge that our enemies are mostly unseen,
And sometimes hidden within ourselves.
We acknowledge that we must both accept ourselves as we are
And work toward transformation.
We acknowledge that you have given us authority and power over evil,
And we take hold of them in the name of Christ.

Hallelujah! For you have looked upon us with eyes full of grace
Grace is air we breathe.
Grace is the ocean we swim in.
Grace is our resting place.

Amen.

Litany for Identity

Recently, in the songwriting group I lead and host in my home, we had a long discussion about identity; about how so many of us are in various ways asleep to who we are, asleep to who God is, and how our identity is so central to the gospel of Jesus. But for many of us, it feels elusive - who am I again?

When I became a mother I had an identity crisis that lasted a year or more. I didn't DO any of the stuff I used to DO, and I had a hard time finding myself in the midst of all the new and unfamiliar stuff I did DO. Where had I gone? Who was this tired person with an entirely new set of priorities and schedule? Figuring it out was long work, in part because I am trained to believe that what I DO is who I AM. Disabusing myself of this idea is an uphill battle.

Identity is a huge idea, and this prayer only begins to scrape the crust of it. But for those of us who struggle, either because of our temperament or a season of life that has forced the issue, I'm hoping this prayer might be a good start.


Creator God, You formed us.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made.
In You we live and move
And have our being.

We acknowledge that many voices try to tell us who we are,
     Who we are not.
Many voices tell us our value is based upon
     Appearance
     Achievement
     Social status
     Gender
     Ethnicity
     Posessions
     Talent

Many would have us believe that our Doing is more important than our Being.
We renounce these voices.
We are Your Children, the work of your hands,
Unique and beloved by You.

May we become more awake to Your love,
Which has no limits.
Your love,
Which defines us.
Your love,
Which begins us and completes us.

May we walk in the sureness of our identity,
In the confidence of Your love.
May all we do come from the core of who we are:
Loved, and made of love.

Amen

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.

Amen



 

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?
Yes.
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.)
But WHERE ARE THEY?
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.
THAT MAKES ME SO SAD. I’M GONNA CRY NOW, MAMA.

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?
Yes!
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.
AND HELP THEIR NEIGHBORS MOVE!
Help their neighbors find a safe place. Help the mean people become kind.

AMEN.

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.
Amen