Ordinary Time (Year B): Litany for the Desperate

This week's Lectionary passages contain such amazing stories and David and Goliath and Christ stilling the sea, but also a deep sense of God's care for the afflicted and desperate.


God, it’s mostly by our own collective blindness
That we have the poor among us.
This is the pit we have made and fallen into;
This is the net that has caught us (1):
We favored the rich
And disregarded the needy.

But, by your mercy, the needy won’t always be forgotten;
Nor the hope of the poor perish (2).

Over and over in the scriptures, we read stories of people who miraculously overcome great obstacles:
     Boys who slay giants with stones (3),
     Women who defeat armies with tent pegs (4),
     Full jars of oil and grain despite famine (5),
     Desperate fathers whose daughters rise from deathbeds (6),
     Locked prison doors flying open (7),
     Dangerous seas calmed at a word (8),
     Crucified Christ resurrected (9).
From these stories, and many more
We take hope.

For in our deepest desperation,
You meet us.
In our poverty of spirit,
You meet us.
In our blindness and apathy,
You meet us.

Things don’t always turn out the way we want them to in this life,
But your eye is always on the afflicted.
Come to us now, Holy One, in our desperation and need;
Still our storms;
Bring us all to a place of rest,
And make us glad in the quiet. (10) Amen.*

*I recommend including a pause for silence here.

  1. Psalm 9:15

  2. Psalm 9:18

  3. 1 Samuel 17:49

  4. Judges 4:21

  5. 2 Kings 4:1-7

  6. Mark 5:23

  7. Acts 16:26

  8. Mark 4:39

  9. Mark 16:6

  10. Psalm 107:30


Litany for Three Mary’s

I wrote this litany to accompany my sermon entitled "Beautiful Heretics: Three Mary's." The texts are from the Gospel of Luke: 1:45-55; 10:38-42: 16:9-11.

God, you’ve shown us that you work in ways we don’t expect
Ways we don’t imagine.
You use the least
To show us your best.
You use the weak
To teach us about strength.

In scripture you used women
Whom the world considered powerless
To redeem the narrative
And re-imagine power.

Help us to be like Mary of Bethany
Listening at your feet.
Help us to be like Mary the mother of Christ
Consenting to your work.
Help us to be like Mary Magdalene,
Present for whatever you’re doing.

These were friends of Christ
Whom he loved and regarded.
Through these relationships, Christ taught the world
What friendship looks like,
What equality looks like,
What respect looks like,
What reciprocity looks like,
What cooperation looks like.

Because they cooperated with Christ,
We see a wider, brighter future for all people.
May we live to see that future alive on earth,
Alive in our community.

Litany for Deborahs

This week’s Lectionary reading includes an excerpt from Judges 4, in which we meet Deborah the judge, who leads her people to victory and freedom from oppression. This one is for the Prophets, the Preachers, the Unconventional Leaders, the Unexpected Authorities; the ones not subsidized by major organizations, who are doing their work despite difficulty, and caring for difficult people; the ones who are re-imagining the world.

God, these times are sifting wheat from chaff; separating sheep from goats; and differentiating true leaders from corrupt imposters.
The foundations of society rumble beneath our feet.
We lift to you those who can envision a future of justice and peace,
And will humbly lead in its direction.

For those who judge justly in these times
We pray to the Lord.
For those who keep faith alive when everyone else is locked in fear
We pray to the Lord.
For those who hold the hands of their people and stay with them as they fight
We pray to the Lord.
For those who know the enemy is already vanquished
We pray to the Lord.
For those who remain calm and steadfast in danger
We pray to the Lord.
For those who move boldly forward while other leaders linger in the past
We pray to the Lord.
For those whose leadership has come at great cost
We pray to the Lord.
For those who have had to defy convention to live out their calling
We pray to the Lord.
For those whom society disqualifies, but have risen up anyway
We pray to the Lord.
For those to whom resources come scantily or not at all, and must rely upon the hand of God
We pray to the Lord.
For those whose authority is constantly questioned and tested
We pray to the Lord.
For those who have known abuse and subjugation, and the depth of our need for justice
We pray to the Lord.
For those working day after day, quietly and without fanfare
We pray to the Lord.
For those whom the margins tried to edge out
We pray to the Lord.
For those who choose not to cast stones, but shine lights
We pray to the Lord.
For those who are imagining and embodying New Creation
We pray to the Lord.

May the Spirit of God be present with the prophets of our time.
May they have the Mind of Christ.