Proper 16 (Year C): Litany for Societal Injustice

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I don’t always take the Bible literally. But when I do, it’s Isaiah 58.

This passage of scripture, when set alongside the life and priorities demonstrated by Christ in the gospels, shows us a detailed picture of a just and thriving society. A society in which corporate avarice and greed, and the priorities of for-profit special interest groups are not the driving force of government or political policy. Instead mercy is. Instead love is. Care for the poor and the removal of unjust “yokes” (think, unjustly imprisoning black and brown folks for minor crimes. Think, lack of access to decent food and education for children. Think, losing your entire life savings because you got sick.) are the hallmarks of this society.

I think there are a lot of ways we can start moving toward this God-imagined ideal. We mostly haven’t tried any of them. If I have ever advocated for “Biblical values” (which I don’t usually because I mostly think that term is misused), these are them. Read em for yourself. I didn’t come up with this. This isn’t “liberal” or “conservative.” This is old-testament Judeo-Christian Orthodoxy validated by the new-testament Christ-man. We’ve just been ignoring it all this time.

Here’s a place to start praying:

Oh God, we live in a society in deep need of reform,
And days of violence and avarice.

Rescue us, O God, from becoming the hand of the wicked,
From being the unjust and cruel (Psalm 71:4).
Rescue us, O God, from our own selfishness,
From our own ego obsessions…





Proper 15 (Year C): Litany for Fire

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This is part of my effort to make 2019 a #yearofwritingsustainably
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A note to Patrons: I have made this litany widely available to anyone who wishes to read or use it. I occasionally do this when a litany is particularly resonant for a moment in time. Thank you for your support, which allows me to continue this output and contribution to the prayers of the people.

“Is not my word like a fire, says the LORD, like a hammer that breaks rock in pieces?”

I believe that the message of this week’s Lectionary, of the fire and hammer of God, which are mercy and restorative justice, is THE message our society needs in this moment. We are protecting the gun lobby over vulnerable school children. We are protecting agribusiness over the well-being of the planet and over and above human thriving.* We are protecting corporate profits and political interests to the detriment of the poor and powerless. We are protecting white supremacy and status over our God-given duty to regard every human life, every human black and brown body, as beloved and sacred. This is the story of our country right now. This is the legacy we are living. 

And the cure, the antidote, is the mercy and restorative justice of God. The Fire and the Hammer. The holy fire that Christ says he “came to bring ... to the earth,” and he says, “how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49). 

This is a prayer of confession and contrition. This is where we begin. Opening our eyes to our communal complicity, and changing our minds (repenting) about how we will continue on. This is heart-centered work. This in inconvenient work. This is uncomfortable work. Standing in the midst of holy fire is bound to be difficult. 



God, as a society we have turned blind eyes 
And deaf ears to the poor.
We can hear the cries of the needy,
See the struggle of the lowly and destitute.
How the weak and the orphan long for justice!
How the defenseless are in need of rescue (1)!


We confess that we have centered our policies
On the success of profit-margins.
We confess that we have protected the interests of corporations and the wealthy
Over the well-being of Earth’s most vulnerable inhabitants.**
We confess that we have judged unjustly
And show partiality to the wicked (2).
We confess that much of our economy and material wealth
Is due to exploitation of human and natural resources.

We have not done our God-given duty of creation stewardship.
We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.
We have not upheld righteous standards.
We have not pursued justice and mercy for all. 

Forgive us, oh God, and lead us on the path of peace.
Restore us to your justice.
Bring us into the community of heaven.
Be merciful to us, oh God. 

For your word is like a fire,
Like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces (3). 
Break our hardened hearts;
Burn down our wicked ways.

Let the fire that Christ brings kindle in our hearts (4),
Igniting flames of justice and peace-making,
Of shifting old, unhelpful paradigms,
Of right-action and reform. 

Let the ethics and policies of heaven come to earth. 
Be merciful to us, oh God. Amen



*watch the documentary “Cowspiracy” for more info on this topic

**inhabitants, both human, animal, and plant-life

  1. Psalm 82:3,4

  2. Psalm 82:2

  3. Jeremiah 23:29

  4. Luke 12:49



Proper 10 (Year C): Litany for Showing Mercy

Hi! As you may have noticed,
I’ve moved much of my work over to Patreon.
This is part of my effort to make 2019 a #yearofwritingsustainably
So thanks for reading and subscribing.
You can find archived litanies here, and purchase my book here.


This week’s Litany brings in themes from various parts of this week’s Lectionary selections: the Colossians, Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Luke passages. The Gospel story is that of the Good Samaritan showing mercy to the stranger. I love seeing how the themes intertwine some weeks. This one is coming right at the perfect time for us as a national and global community. 


God, we know that your word is not too hard for us
Nor is it far away,
And that we have been transferred into the community
Of your beloved Son, Christ Jesus,
In whom forgiveness is abundant
And mercy is foremost

Litany for Haiti

Haiti has been devastated once more, this time by a hurricane. Entire towns have been ruined, and over 300 people have lost their lives. Right now people in Haiti are struggling to survive in the wreckage of a terrible storm. We can participate prayerfully in their healing. I have also written this litany, which can be used in times of natural disaster.

God, author of Creation
Giver of Life:
We call upon your mercy and compassion now.
We pray for the people of Haiti.

We pray for the hearts of the world
To be moved with compassion
We pray for the feet and hands of the world, ourselves included,
To be moved to help.

Where there has been devastation,
Bring renewal.
Where there is suffering,
Bring comfort
Where there is need
Bring provision.

The world has great need of the mercy of God
As demonstrated by Christ,
As demonstrated by the global Church
As demonstrated by individuals.
May your spirit alight on that place as never before,
Bringing life where death has reigned.

We pray for Haiti
For your kingdom come
Your will be done,
In Haiti as it is in heaven.

Amen

 

Litany for Goodness and Mercy

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6)

 

God of goodness and mercy: we admit that we have gotten off-track.
We know we need to do justly,
Love mercy,
Walk humbly. (1)

We are enticed by retribution
And take vengeance for ourselves (2).
We are enamored by damnation
And forget about goodness.
We are in love with judgement
And disregard mercy.

We need a change of heart.
Christ, have mercy on us.
We need to look into your eyes and have our inner world transformed,
Before we begin work on the world around us (3).

Transform and renew us now (4)
Into the image of Christ,
Into a peace-making people,
Into a just and merciful people.

May we scatter seeds of goodness and mercy wherever we go,
And live in the light of your presence always. (5)

Amen

 

  1. Micah 6:8, which Phyllis Tickle says is the motto of the Great Emergence.

  2. Romans 12:19

  3. Matthew 7:3

  4. Romans 12:2

  5. Psalm 23.6

Lent Series: Litany for Lent, Week 2 "Mercy"

This prayer in the Lent Series is written for the second Sunday in Lent (this year February 21). You can find the prayer for the first Sunday in Lent (this year February 14) here.

Hear, Oh God, when we call to You
Have mercy on us and answer us.

In our vulnerability
Have mercy on us, oh God
In our forgetfulness
Have mercy on us, oh God
In our anxiety
Have mercy on us, oh God
In our wrongdoing
Have mercy on us, oh God
In our hard-heartedness
Have mercy on us, oh God
In our blindness,
Have mercy on us, oh God

In your mercy, you rescue us from our enemies.
In your mercy, you remove our transgressions from us.
In your mercy, you made a way for us to be reconciled to You.
In your mercy, you sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to heal our brokenness.

Grant that in this season of Lent, our hearts may be devoted to You,
That we may see Your mercies new each day.
Grant that we may be always ready to offer mercy to those in need of it,
For mercy triumphs over judgement.

Amen