Litany for Chaos

Oh God, our hearts are overwhelmed with sorrow for the endless trauma that continues to afflict the people of the earth.
Our hearts cry out.
We lament the violent tragedies that have occurred in recent days both at home and abroad.
Our hearts cry out.

We lift up our eyes to the hills;
Where will our help come from?
Our help comes from the Lord
Who made heaven and earth. (1)

Violence, murder, trauma, chaos - they seem to be unending and gaining momentum.
How long must we wait, Oh Lord?
Governments overrun, children and families killed, tension and fear rampant.
How long, Oh Lord?

We have nothing left but to hope in You, God
Our hope is in You.
Our grieved hearts have nowhere else to turn.
Come quickly to rescue us.

We pray for peace.
We pray for violence to end.
We pray for your merciful heart to beat inside us.
We pray for you to show us how to help.

We are pressed on every side,
but not crushed;
We are perplexed,
but not in despair;
We are persecuted,
but not abandoned;
We are struck down,
but not destroyed.

Death is at work in the world,
but life is at work in You.
Come now and bring life.
Our hope is in You.


  1. From Psalm 121

  2. From 2 Corinthians 4

Litany for Rebuke

Edit: Saturday morning 7/9/16: This litany was written on Thursday before the shooting in Dallas Thursday night. I was feeling angry and grieved when I wrote it. More bad things have happened since then. I still feel angry and grieved and confused and baffled and sad, and more aware than ever of ways that I AM THE PERSON I'M REBUKING. I am complicit. I can change in ways I haven't yet perceived are necessary for me to change. By simple apathy and laziness, I have been an enemy of peace. I need rebuke and correction. I need a fresh dose of perspective and compassion and grace and love. I am still mad at those cops who killed Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile and all the others who have been unjustly put to death. I am still mad at the shooter who killed 5 police officers in Dallas. I'm mad and I want things to change and I want to change. So I pray the traditional orthodox Jesus Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.


You who are enemies of peace;
We rebuke you.
You who are wolves in sheep's clothing;
We rebuke you.
You who govern masses and only consider the interests of a few;
We rebuke you.
You who pay lip service to justice but do evil;
We rebuke you.
You who kill without thinking and have no regard for human life;
We rebuke you.
You who are enslaved to fear of a certain type of person;
We rebuke you.
You who allow evil and corruption and ignore what is right;
We rebuke you.
You who have no language but violence;
We rebuke you.
You who worship money and power over others;
We rebuke you.
You who perpetuate injustice;
We rebuke you.
You who have decided that the white, the straight, the affluent; are more deserving of life than the black, the gay, the poor;
We rebuke you.
You who shed innocent blood;
We rebuke you.
You who choose to remain enemies even while we offer peace;
We rebuke you.

We are all brought to shame by your actions.
We are all brought to grief by your violence.
We are all brought to rage by your power over our society.
We are all brought to repentance by your misdeeds.

We refuse to swallow your lies.
We refuse to bend to your way of violence and power-hunger.
We refuse to be blinded by your distorted version of prosperity.
We refuse to allow violence and fear to found false peace.

We offer you forgiveness and reconciliation.
We offer you a place at our table, generosity instead of greed.
We offer you one cheek, then another.
We offer you our cloaks, and shelter from the storm.
We offer you loaves and fishes, though you’ve given us a snake.
We offer you the Way of Love, an antidote to hatred.
We offer you the Way of Peace, an antidote to violence.
We offer you the body and blood of Christ, who is able to heal your disease.

Come now, Christ, in your mercy and in your peace, in the dazzling beauty of your love, in the creativity of your re-imagining this world, in the justice of your Kingdom.

For Alton Sterling and Philando Castile: Prayers from the BCP

I sat down yesterday to write a litany about Alton Sterling. To offer some mourning or lament or ask God for a fresh round of hope, a dose of something alive that might help. I had nothing. And then I looked at a news site this morning and discovered that another black man, Philando Castile, was killed last night, also by a cop.

Still I have nothing. Maybe tomorrow I will have a prayer to pray of my own. Not today.

So, I went to the BCP. That’s the Book of Common Prayer, for all the Protestant Evangelicals who, like me, had never seen a prayer book other than Psalms. There I found a few gems of helpful goodness that could .

I was especially inspired by a few phrases from a Prayer for Ordination of a Deacon, which says:

...[C]arry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord...  (p 540)

Racism and violence have grown old and must be made new. From the ground up, we need a new paradigm. We have outgrown them, but some parts of our society are not letting go; some are choosing to remain enemies, mired in corruption. Kyrie eleison.

This is, for me, the beauty of written prayers: to have somewhere to turn when my own emotions have overwhelmed me and dried up my ability to pray on my own; or when the thing I need to pray about is unthinkable. This is why I write prayers, and why we can lean on the prayer books that have been handed down to us. Pray with me now from the Book of Common Prayer*.

Prayer for the Human Family
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son;
Look with compassion on the whole human family;
take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts;
break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love;
and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth;
that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen (p 815)

Prayer for the Future of the Human Race
O God our heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us dominion over all the earth: Increase our reverence before the mystery of life and give us new insight into your purposes for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in making provision for its future in accordance with your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen ( p 828)

Here I have pulled out some lines from The Great Litany

O God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth,
Have mercy upon us.
O God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy upon us.
O God the Holy Ghost, Sanctifier of the faithful,
Have mercy upon us.

From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all want of charity,
Good Lord, deliver us.
From all oppression, conspiracy, and rebellion; from violence, battle, and murder; and from dying suddenly and unprepared,
Good Lord deliver us.

That it may please you to bless and keep all your people,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please you to make wars to cease in all the world; to give to all nations unity, peace, and concord; and to bestow freedom upon all peoples,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please you to have mercy upon all mankind,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please you to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please you to grant to all the faithful departed eternal life and peace,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
Grant us your peace.

Kyrie eleison. (Lord, have mercy upon us.)


Grant us grace to entrust Alton Sterling and Philando Castile to your never-failing love; receive them into the arms of your mercy, and remember them according to the favor which you bear unto your people.
Amen (from “Burial I” p 481)


Thanks Be To God
for the collection of prayers of the saints throughout the ages
which give a light in dark times.

*I use The Book Of Common Prayer according to the use of The Episcopal Church
Oxford University Press, New York.