Advent Year B: Week 2: Litany for Deep Peace

God, we are longing for a silent night --
For a reprieve
From noise and anxiety and hurry;
For a moment
Of space and time, empty yet full.
Gift us the gift of quiet.

This is the Peace:
Of baby’s breath
Of feathered wing
Of rustling leaf
Of sphere’s turn
Of light beam.

The heavenly peace in which we long to rest
To sweetly sleep
In safety and freedom
In certainty and repose.

We can smell the peace
Coming on the wind.
We can feel the peace
Arriving with the morning.
We can taste the peace
In the bread and cup.

We look in your direction, God
The Place from which peace comes;
For you are its Author and the home of its Prince,
And in your peace we dwell.

Amen

Litany for Inner Stillness

God, we know that when we wait upon you
Our strength is renewed. (1)
We know that your presence can grow in us
When we become still. (2)
You are exalted in our hearts
When we contemplate your goodness.

That we often avoid quiet reflection
We confess to you, Oh God.
That we often mistake stillness for sloth,
We confess to you, Oh God.
That we often become hoodwinked by our culture of excess,
We confess to you, Oh God.
That intentional stillness often requires great effort from us,
We confess to you, Oh God.

When we are running around, attending to our to-do lists,
It’s you we seek. (3)
When we are looking for pleasure and consolation,
It’s you we seek.
When we are in need of affirmation and success,
It’s you we seek.
When we are avoiding our pain, or nursing our wounds,
It’s you we seek.

We cease our striving and sink now into the stillness of this moment
For we have composed and quieted our souls. (4)
We immerse ourselves into your loving, always-available presence,
For we have composed and quieted our souls.
We make it our ambition to be deeply familiar with you
For we have composed and quieted our souls.
We meditate upon the beauty of God,
For we have composed and quieted our souls.

Renew us now
As we wait quietly, in stillness, for you.

Amen

 

(1) Isaiah 40:31
(2) Psalm 46:10
(3) Psalm 63:1
(4) Psalm 131:2

 

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

Litany for 9/11

Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. This litany will also be posted on Godspace. I have reposted it here for the sake of my catalog.


God, we remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
We know that you remember them too, and are keeping them in your care.

We acknowledge the pervasiveness of violence in our world:
    Sometimes it explodes with intent to kill
And has its success, as on 9/11.
And sometimes it creeps in subtly:
    In attitudes and mindsets, in worldviews and passing words.
We find it even here in our own hearts.

Cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and restore us to justice.
We rely upon your mercy.

Grant that we may forgive those who have committed atrocities against us
And remember them also to your merciful love.
We hear your words to us: “Do not resist an evil person;” (1)
We are baffled and astonished at this instruction.
We have no paradigm for understanding a peaceable kingdom,
Other than your example.

Console us in our grief, Oh Lovely One.
Speak to us in our confusion.
Guide our feet on the path of peace. (2)
Be to us a light in darkness,
A lamp of peace drawing us lovingly in.

Amen


(1) Matthew 5:39
(2) Luke 1: 78-79
 

Litany for Guidance

“For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.” Psalm 48: 14

God, we find ourselves at a moment
When a decision must be made,
A direction must be chosen.
We seek your light and your guidance.

We desire to honor you in all that we do
In each breath we take,
Every goal,
Every action,
Every thought,
Every interaction.

We acknowledge that our choices matter,
But that you are Author, Creator, Beginner.
We acknowledge our smallness
And our potential.
We acknowledge that we are connected to a great big world
Parts of a body.
We acknowledge that acts of love reverberate
To all the world (1).

May all we do, and all we choose,
Be done and chosen with love;
That we may be, not a clanging cymbal or gong,
But a beautiful music filling the earth.

Help us to bravely step out into the path of peace (2),
Trusting in your help along the way (3).

Amen
 

1) Psalm 119:64 “The earth is filled with your love, Lord; teach me your decrees.”
2) Luke 1:78,79 "...because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."
3) Exodus 3: 11,12 "Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

A Bilingual Litany: Litany for Wars (English/Arabic)

My friend Sara, who is from Jordan, helped me with some Arabic phrases for bilingual litanies. "Emnahna al salam" means "grant us peace."

em-NAH-HH-nah AHL sa-LAHM (you make the H-sound as a syllable)

I encourage you to try saying the phrase out loud, even if the words feel strange in your mouth, to speak in solidarity with those Arabic-speakers whose nations are at war and in deep suffering. Your willingness to discomfort yourself in this small way then becomes its own kind of prayer: stumbling, mis-pronounced, and self-conscious, but heart-felt. I have Syria in mind for this litany, but the name of any war-torn nation may be substituted.

God, wars rage and nations are in turmoil.
Emnahna al salam.
Only the power of God can turn hearts and minds toward peace.
Emnahna al salam.

In your mercy, look upon the people of Syria.
Emnahna al salam.
Look upon the poor and vulnerable;
Emnahna al salam.
Look upon the sick and wounded;
Emnahna al salam.
Look upon the government and political leaders;
Emnahna al salam.
Look upon those whose pockets are lined by war;
Emnahna al salam.
Look upon those who are caught up in violence and cannot see a way out.
Emnahna al salam.
Bring your justice and mercy swiftly.
Emnahna al salam.

Spoil the plans of those who instigate trouble because of greed and power-hunger.
Emnahna al salam.
Rescue those who are suffering from violence and unjust government.
Emnahna al salam.
Fill the hearts of those who can help with compassion and strength.
Emnahna al salam.
Empower leaders whose hearts understand the goal of Love, and who enact justice.
Emnahna al salam.

May the spirit of Christ, the Prince of Peace, be strong in that region.
Emnahna al salam.

Amen

Litany for Trauma

“Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.” (Hab 1:3)

“The grave is greedy and death is never satisfied.” (Hab 2:5)
 

I was on vacation last week, taking a break from most media, blissfully without cell service. I’ve returned home to learn of yet more incidents in the unending cascade of violence the world is subjected to. To name a few: A terrorist attack in Afghanistan killed upwards of 80 civilians. A suicide bombing in Germany on Sunday, on the heels of a prior attack there which happened on a train on Friday. Another bomb in Iraq. And just this morning, a police officer shot in his home, here in the Austin suburb where I live.

I am baffled. I knew the world was a place where violence is a strong force, a tool for the power-hungry and vengeful. My adulthood began with 9/11, after all. But I feel like I know it more deeply now.

One early morning during our trip to the mountains last week, as I sat out on the deck alone drinking coffee and watching the morning mist rise up out of the mountain hollows, God visited me in a different-than-ordinary way. The best way I can describe it is that it felt as if I were a tiny rowboat gently brushing up against a whale. Calm, peaceful, benevolent.

That moment, that serene and loving Presence, is what I want to hold onto this week. I want to know goodness and mercy. I want to contemplate instead of react. I want the Holy Spirit to give me perspective I can’t get with my own eyes, through the fog of my own instincts for self-protection, retribution, and fuzzy ideas about justice. So I’m praying to be set right in my own mind, informed by the trauma, but not motivated by it.


God of peace and healing:
We have witnessed evil.
We have seen terrified communities.
We have seen innocent civilians hurt and killed in conflicts with which they have little to do.
We have seen people killed in cold blood.
We have seen mass murder.
We grieve with mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters, friends.

We cannot unsee these things.
We do not even comprehend the damage done to our souls,
     how numb and scarred our minds become by violence.
We are disheartened by the frequency and magnitude of traumas.
It is a sad day when such evil is commonplace.

In these times
Remind us of your vastness
And the vastness of your creation.

Help us to be creative in utilizing the tools you’ve given:
Mercy, Kindness, Gentleness
Words and gestures of comfort and solidarity.

Help us to be strong in our minds
Able to withstand struggle
Able to retreat into your presence for peace.

Help us to be disciplined in maintaining our connection with you, Giver of Life
Even when the news feels all-consuming and urgent.
Especially then.

We do not know what to do
Except sit with you
And let your nearness transform and heal us.

We long for the day when the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea. (1)

Amen


1) Habbakuk 2:14


 

Litany for Listening

If we are going to keep praying for reconciliation among the races; if we are going to keep praying for reconciliation between hetero culture and the LGBTQ community; if we are going to keep praying for reconciliation among differing religious paradigms; if we are going to keep praying for reconciliation among nations; then I wonder if we should start by asking for help with listening.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Cor 5:18-20)


God, who so graciously speaks to us and is present to us,
Help us to be present to you, and to your people.

We confess that we are distracted and noisy people.
We confess that we have avoided quieting ourselves before you.
We confess that we’ve been afraid of what you might say to us.
We confess that we are often so busy speaking that all we hear is our own opinions.

We turn now to you, knowing that you are love,
And that love is what you are always telling us,
Even when you are gently correcting us.
We need gentle correction now.

We confess that we have not listened to our neighbors.
We confess that we have not made time and space to hear their stories and concerns.
We confess that we have allowed our differences to put us off.
We confess that by not engaging, we have stifled love.

Show us how to listen attentively,
And to love our neighbors near and far.
Show us how to open our ears and hearts
To those of different cultures, races, backgrounds, belief systems.
Show us how to embody the mission of Christ:
To prepare a great banquet and invite everyone to feast.

May we make space in our lives to hear your voice and do your good work.
May we know your voice.
May we overcome our fears of shame, and our reluctance to experience awkward moments.
May we follow the promptings of your Spirit without hesitation.
May our hearts be big enough to hold the stories we hear.
May we live love loudly, and listen quietly.

Be near to us as we do the work of quieting our souls (1),
That we may listen and learn from those around us.
Amen

 

(1) Psalm 131:
O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
            Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
            Or in things too difficult for me.

 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
            Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
            My soul is like a weaned child within me.

  O Israel, hope in the LORD
            From this time forth and forever.

Litany for Gun Violence

We are still mourning Orlando. We are still mourning Christina Gremmie. We are still mourning San Bernardino, Colorado Springs, Fort Hood, the D.C. Navy Yard, Sandy Hook, and on and on. A litany of loss. A litany of political strife and conflict and impasse. I do not profess to know the right answer to our problems. I've read some ideas that seem reasonable to me, but I see, to a limited extent, both sides of the issue. I want to help us pray from both sides of the issue.

God,
We approach You now, in a time of mourning and lament.
How long, Oh Lord, must we wait for justice and peace?
How long must we wait for all things to be made new?

We acknowledge that guns are tools:
They have been used to defend good. They have been used to perpetrate evil.

We acknowledge that human lives lost are mounting up, tragically and abominably.
We acknowledge that the subject of gun control and gun rights is a touchy, divisive one.
We acknowledge our tendency to close our ears to the voices of those who disagree with us.
We acknowledge that policies as they stand are not working very well.
We acknowledge our distrust of government leaders to faithfully care for us.

We are afraid:
That we might not be able to protect ourselves.
That losing part of one right might set us on a path to losing them all.
That our children might grow up in a world less-civilized than our own.
That more children and innocents will lose their lives in the coming days.
That our hopes and dreams will be unobtainable in an unsafe society.
That the many will suffer for the sins of a few.
That freedom is a bygone idea.

We pray for our leaders:
May they come together in unity, seeking a way forward.
May unity be, not a pipe-dream, but a reality.
May they find a way to both protect the rights of those who would defend goodness, and deter evil-doers.
May they be guided by You toward policy that respects the rights of all, and protects innocents.
May each side set aside its own agenda in favor of the good of all.
May the good and righteous overcome the greedy and pernicious.

We pray for peace, and set our fear out in the light of Your love.
We long for the day
    When we will beat our swords into ploughshares.
    When tools for destruction will be used for creation, beauty, and sustenance.
    When the lion will lie down with the lamb, and a little child will lead them.

May the day of Christ Jesus come quickly.

Amen