Litany for Song

This litany was written by special request, specifically for an event put on by friends in Kentucky. It may be my favorite litany I've ever written.

God, it was your voice, the vibration of your words, that set the first molecules into formation and motion.
You sang the universe into being.
Your breath first nudged planets and atmospheres into existence, by the rasp and melody of your speaking.
You sang the world into being.
Like the cascade of waterfalls, the rumble of thunder, the whir of wind, and the soft breath of infants - so is the beauty and power of the voice of our God.
You sang creation to life.
You moved air through lungs of dust and called us Beautiful, named us Beloved, and shared with us your energy and your art.
You sang humanity to life.

When we say that we live and move and have our being in you, God, we mean that from wave to particle to atom to molecule to cell to organ to body - you are within and throughout.
Your voice makes us.
You are love, and Love set the earth spinning and the stars shining and our hearts beating.
Your voice makes us.
Love that sings and vibrates, dances and gyrates; Love that never stops being and becoming.
Your voice makes us.
Love that energizes and ennervates, uplifts and invigorates; Love that multiplies and amplifies.
Your voice makes us.

In Christ, Love put on a human face; took on vocal cord, consonant, resonance, and sustain.
In Christ, Love decided that dying was dancing and resurrecting was to be expected.
In Christ, Love said that loss is gain and death is life and power is weakness and dissonance is harmony, and then proved it.
In Christ, Love is re-making every broken thing; every off-key note and accidental, every counterpoint, coda, and hum is arranged to beauty.
In Christ, Love is singing again, and still singing: a song of redemption, invitation, and new creation.



Resurrection Sunday (Year A): Litany for the Story

Here are the Lectionary texts for Easter morning, Year A. I have tried to draw elements from each text, plus an additional reference from John 2. Hallelujah! He is Risen!


God, You have loved us with an everlasting love;
You have continually been faithful (Jeremiah 31:3)
You are our strength.
You are our salvation. ((Psalm 118:14)

This is the story of Jesus of Nazareth:
He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power.
He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed.
He was put to death on a cross and his body laid in a tomb. (Acts 19:38,39)

“Tear this temple down,” he said,
“In three days I will rebuild it!” (John 2:19)

And so it is:
On the third day,
As the disciples Mary and Mary Magdalene have seen:
Christ’s tomb is empty! (John 20:1)
An angel has rolled away the stone: (Matthew 28:2)
He is not there.
He is risen!
He is risen, indeed!

We celebrate the story of Jesus Christ:
Birth, work, death, resurrection.
And we have been raised with Christ,
Who is our life. (Col 3:1,4)



Litany for Surgery

It’s only a tonsillectomy. In all likelihood, our little gal be bouncing around asking for ice cream within a few days. But…. THEY ARE TAKING MY BABY, PUMPING HER FULL OF CHEMICALS AND CUTTING HER WITH SHARP OBJECTS.

My monkey mind is having a heyday with this. Or it could if I let it. Because I know for certain when she gets out she will be feeling the worst pain she’s ever felt. And she will be feeling this pain because her Papa and I have willingly and consciously made the decision to allow her to feel this pain. We’ve made this decision for good reasons that we believe will benefit her and our family going forward, but that doesn’t change the fact of our child’s pain, the fact of what walking through the next 48 hours will be like. She will cry. I know that her pain will stress me out and make me cry too.

Fortunately I’ve been practicing the trick of stepping back from the monkey mind. Giving it a look from a distance. Perhaps chuckling at it a bit and nudging it lovingly. I’m only beginning to learn this skill, but wow is it helpful when I can remember it.

Peace, be still, Mama.

Hey, Mamas and Papas who have walked your babies down cold corridors, kissed them at O.R. doors, and relinquished them into the hands of mostly strangers. You who have done this many times because of accident, chronic illness, or ongoing medical issues. You who have spent countless hours in waiting rooms, drunk countless cups of awful coffee, and glanced up eagerly every time the door opened, a hundred times, in hopes that it’s over and the report is good. You. I see you now.

(This litany is not just for parents. I'm hopeful that this prayer can be helpful to most anyone going into a surgery or medical procedure.)

God, it’s into your hands that we send our Loved One*
She* was only ever there all along.
We breathe in the peace of your presence:
     Your presence with her as she sleeps
     Your presence with us as we wait.

Be present to those caring for her while we are apart.
Let the peace of your presence come to them as well.
Let your lovingkindness fill their hearts,
     Calm and focus their minds
     Steady their hands.

Let no evil befall them or our Loved One.
May each body system come to perfect harmony.
May each wound inflicted bring health and healing behind it:
     As by Christ’s wounds we are healed,
     So now, we ask for healing wounds.

Make us awake to our blessings,
Things we take for granted,
Things many people throughout the world don’t have:
     Sanitation, education, access, options, medicines and therapies.
     Hope, provision, support, community, nourishment.

May we care for her with compassion and patience while she recovers.
We know that in the midst of pain, you bring growth and goodness.
May we be strengthened and tireless as we offer help:
     Each word echoing the mercy of Christ
     Each action formed and informed by love.


*Substitute the name of the individual here
*Replace gender-specific pronouns as needed

Litany for Confession

I’m gradually waking up to the understanding that my greatest and most pervasive sin is lack of compassion, which is to say, lack of love. Sometimes it looks like apathy. Sometimes it looks like pride. Sometimes disgust. Sometimes hurried-ness and preoccupation. Sometimes it looks like laziness. Sometimes it looks like blindness. Sometimes it looks like somebody else’s problem.

It’s all the same thing, the same root cause: a lack of compassion in my heart, a seed that fell among thorns (1). There wasn’t enough compassion to move me. There wasn’t enough to get me to DO anything. Because true compassion MOVES; and true compassion DOES.

If I were sitting with you over wine or coffee I could tell you a lot of stories about a lot of missed opportunities. A lot of times I didn’t say hello, didn’t open the door, didn’t call or send a note , didn’t pull over on the side of the road, didn’t rifle my purse for cash to put in a cup, didn’t want to get up early or stay up late, didn’t want to give up some luxury, didn’t see whatever pain was right under my nose. Didn’t go, didn’t do, didn’t move. A lot. More than I want to think about.

I prayed for a friend the other day who has a long-standing health issue and I felt the compassion of God toward her. She expressed frustration with this. Why should she care if God has compassion toward her if it leaves her in pain all the time? What good does God’s compassion do if she’s not healed of her affliction? I resonate with her frustration--that’s hard.

But how about if I turn that mirror on myself: what does my compassion do? Does it feed hungry people? Does it lament alongside folks who are grieving? Does it care for orphans and lonely folks? Does it speak encouraging words? Does it make peace? Does it foster equality and work for justice? Does it grow legs and walk around? Do I embody it?

Usually not. And sometimes it smacks me in the face, but mostly I get away with it.

Note: I have written this litany in first person because it is my personal prayer. If you want to pray it too, go ahead. It could easily be adapted for congregational use by changing “I” and “my” to “we” and “our."

I have sinned against you in thought, and word, and deed;
In things I have done,
But mostly in things I have left undone.
I have not loved you with my whole heart.
I have not loved my neighbor as I love myself (2).

Half the time, I haven’t even realized my neighbor was there.

You were thirsty and I didn’t give you a drink.
You were naked and I didn’t clothe you (3).

I have gone around blind,

I have blamed it on
Family responsibilities
Lack of time
Not my problem
My smallness (4).
Fear of doing it wrong.

If compassion is a seed, then I am the thorny soil (5).

Forgive me, Oh God,
According to your mercy.
According to your great compassion
Blot out all my iniquity (6).  

I have nothing to offer you
Except a broken and contrite heart (7).
Remake my heart out of love,
And let love be the heart of my life.


  1. Parable of the sower, Matthew 13

  2. This language is adapted from the Prayer of Confession from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer.

  3. Matthew 25:35,36

  4. Desmond Tutu said, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

  5. See item (1)

  6. Psalm 51:9

  7. Psalm 51:17


Litany for Freedom

The lectionary reading from the Gospels for August 21 is from Luke 13:10-17.

I love this part of the story. I get a smile on my face every time I read it. In part because I enjoy breaking rules and sticking it to The Man. It’s the stage-3, rebellious teenager in me. No actually I wasn’t very rebellious until I became an adult and I started to see the cracks in the whole faith-schematic that I was a part of. I came to adulthood in a denominational world of fundamentalism, rules-adherence gospel, and church power struggle. Pastors were routinely “voted out,” having had factions rise up against them from within churches. Families who didn’t follow the rules were made unwelcome.

I witnessed all this. I witnessed an aversion to ecumenicalism, resistance to anything “tainted” by any other theological perspective, and unwillingness to build community bridges. My perception of the church was colored by the fact that there was always drama and disagreement within it. Calvinism was gospel and the gospel was Calvinism, and war was a valid tool for spreading it. The message to me as a young woman was: God is happiest with you if you are married, mothering children at home, submitting to your husband, being quiet and dressing modestly. My interests in theology and leadership were misplaced, so I was told, so I shut them down for many years. I don’t say all this as a judgement; I say it as part of the story of what I experienced as a young person, and what brought me to where I am today.

Eventually that vague sense of dread became a personal revolution. I came to a place in which I said: I don’t want this anymore. This is not good news. I am not sure who I am, but it isn’t who they say I am. Scratch it all, start again. But keep Jesus, I like him even though he confounds me every time I open the book.

Jordan and I married and moved far away from home. We flipped a coin to decide where. We landed by the grace of God in the bosom of a little community that was trying to follow Jesus together, to be emotionally healthy, to work through disagreements in raw but authentic ways. The little church was, of all sacrilegious and heretical things, pastored by a woman! We were a bundle of misunderstood theology, church resentments and wounds, and in the midst of a great deal of life-shock; but gradually we moved toward healing and towards Jesus.

That church broke all the rules we had been taught. Talk about our feelings? Emotional health is important? Reconciliation is a thing? Women can do stuff and the wrath of God won’t descend? We don’t have to choose between faith and science?! There are other ways of approaching scripture?!! ...So many yes’es and so many broken rules that healed our sore hearts, and so much freedom.

So when Jesus does this in Luke 13: breaks the Sabbath, which is a gift and an invitation to be free, and sets a woman (a woman!) free from literal physical bondage on entirely the WRONG DAY OF THE WEEK; I just want to dance a jig, and often do. I think of that woman, how Jesus took hold of freedom on the day which most people considered their hands to be tied: Oh, we can’t do anything to help, it’s the Sabbath too bad so sad we won’t risk incurring God’s anger for one little woman. And Jesus said nope; you’ve got it wrong, the Sabbath is meant to free you not to bind you, the Kingdom is here now and everyday I’m letting freedom ring! Hallelujah! The entire crowd was rejoicing (verse 17), and so am I! Oh, hallelujah.

If you have been freed, or are hankering for freedom, I invite you to pray.

Jesus, so often we miss the point of your invitations.
We strap them to ourselves as weights and constrictions
When you meant them to free us.

You invite us to Sabbath
To rest
To contemplation
To community.

You invite us to think differently
About rules
About assumptions
About what the Kingdom of God looks like.  

You invite us to your revolutionary idea
That the Kingdom is now
That freedom is now
That Resurrection is resurrecting everything.

Help us to go to the scripture, to the rules, hand in hand with you.
     You guiding our thinking,
     You keeping our foot from stumbling
     You pointing out the most important bits.
Help us there to find all the freedom we expect from you
     Peace in every encounter,
     Love in every interaction,
     Joy in every invitation.


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.