Epiphany Week 3, Year C: Litany for the Party

This week’s Lectionary readings include the account of Christ performing his first recorded miracle: turning water into wine at a wedding. Also known as the time Jesus BROUGHT THE PARTY. There are so many interesting and fun details about the story: the way his mom talks him into it. The way the people react. The way he tries to keep it on the DL. His reluctance (I imagine a twinkle in his eye). The way he nonchalantly instructs them to “draw some out,” no big deal. 

And the most endearing part, to me, is what it says about celebration. That celebration is worth doing. That Jesus is able to look at this world, see it for what it is, accept it, forgive it, and still think it’s worth partying. 

And this is the lesson that Christ is teaching us:
That just when we think the party is over
And all our resources have run out,
There is abundance yet…

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Litany for Growing

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At the turn of the year, many of us set aside time to reflect and set intentions for the coming year. How do we want to be? What do we want to carry forward? What do we need to let go of? What changes do we want to see made in the world that we might be part of.

I personally have a going list of hopes, dreams, and intentions. There are things I want to accomplish, changes I want to make, goals I want to meet, and ways I know I need to grow and evolve. My intentions range from the physical (improve fitness level, etc), to career (make my writing practice sustainable!), to spiritual, emotional, and relational; to collective and societal.

So, if you are on that journey of looking forward and speaking and imagining new things into being, I invite you to pray this prayer asking for patience to play the long game.


God, we stretch out our arms,
Reaching toward heaven.
We stretch out our hearts,
Reaching toward the timeless.
We stretch out our vision,
Reaching beyond our horizons.

There’s so much to be done.
So much change to be made.
That sometimes it’s hard to remember
That everything is as it should be:
Collectively, we are growing.
We are evolving.
And despite evidence to the contrary,
Things are progressing.

So we ask for help in being still and present
When the world is hectic;
And we ask for help in taking right action
When we are overwhelmed.
We lay ourselves bare before you
Nothing kept hidden or held back,
Trusting you to meet us in our need
And provide for us in our process.

May all we do,
And all we work toward,
Every imperceptible expansion,
Every slow millimeter of growth,
Make your community more welcoming,
And the world more truly peaceful (1).

.
Amen.

  1. Jeremiah 6:14

Litany for Year-End Reflection

God, in everything that’s happened this year,
Both good and bad,
We know that you were with us,
Always loving and present.

We’re spending time looking backwards, in hindsight,
Assessing our own progress and growth;
What worked, what didn’t,
What helped, what hindered.

And we’re spending time looking forwards, toward the new year,
Setting intentions and voicing our hopes
What we’d like to accomplish and improve,
What we’d like to experience and enjoy.

But we are also learning
To be in this moment,
To breathe deeply into our bodies
Right here, right now.

Because we know that the doorway to the Community of Heaven
Is right now -
Accessible always, no matter the circumstance,
Timeless and reliable.

And so we celebrate the year -
Its beginnings and its endings,
Its triumphs and its failures,
Its gifts and its receipts -
By turning our attention to you, Great Present,
Divine Attention, Conscious Now,
And leaning into the eternal flow of Love
As Christ has taught us.

We offer gratitude for each experience
For each person,
And we put our hope in the continued revealing
Of the peace, joy, and love of God.

Amen

Litany for Christmas Eve (Year C)

From a reading of Luke 2, the Lectionary gospel for Christmas, Year C.

God, we can’t help but feel a bit scandalized
About the way the Son of God was born to earth:
There was no room
There was no bed
There was no midwife
And no fine baby blankets

And when the Mother had finished her work
She wrapped her babe -
The hope of nations -
In strips of homespun cloth,
And laid him to sleep in a manger,
The humblest of corners.

But still, whenever we think about that night
We sigh with relief;
Because we know that for you,
We don’t have to put on a show,
We don’t have to fake anything,
We don’t have to hide the truth of ourselves,
We don’t have to have everything spotless and together,
Before you come in our door.

The most monumental works are done in the smallest increments.
The most glorious hymns are sung by the croakiest voices.
The most brilliant cathedrals are built by the roughest hands.
The most fervent prayers are prayed by the gentlest souls.

Even as the tiniest baby,
The Christ was telling the glory of God.
The highest heights are made low for you.
You level the roughest terrain (1).

Amen

1) Isaiah 40:4







Advent Week 4 (Year C): Look Up, There’s Love

Mary’s Magnificat is part of the Lectionary selection for week 4 of Advent. One of the most beautiful and stirring prayers in scripture, spoken by a young woman of humble origin, accepting a dangerous long-term mission with gratitude, grit, and grace.

God, you are mighty in Love
You have done great things for us:
Lifted up the lowly
Filled the hungry with good things.
You have helped us
And showed us what mercy looks like (Luke 1:52-54);

Mercy has gathered bone and sinew.
Love has taken on flesh,
Saving us from heartless wandering
And merciless suffering.

Love’s Ambassador showed up and invited us
Into the work of building outposts,
Enclaves of lovingkindness,
Starting within our own hearts.

The work begins within us:
The Community of God grows within our beings
And blossoms outward to other people,
To become a network of love,
Blanketing the world:
Each intersection a soul.

We have only to wait a bit now,
While the momentum builds.
The day is coming
When love will reach a critical mass
And its reality will overtake fear.
All our waiting and working will be complete.

We thank you, oh God,
For the gift of Love within us.

Amen


Advent Week 3 (Year C): Look Up, There’s Joy

This litany draws from the Lectionary readings for Week 3 of Advent, Year C.

God, one of the best things about the way you made things,
And the most challenging for us,
Is that joy is always available.
Returning to love is always an option,
Even in the midst of turmoil;
Even in distress.

We know that we always have access to joy
By choosing to be in the present moment,
To practice gratitude,
To pay attention,
To be mindful,
To surrender.

When we become awake to you, God,
We open the door to joy;
We open the door to your constant loving acceptance,
And to the gladness of your presence.

Sing aloud, and shout!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart (1, 2)!
The LORD has taken away the judgments against us,
And has turned away our enemies (1).

God rejoices over us with gladness.
God renews us in love.
God exults over us with loud singing (3).
We share in the joy of God.

Amen.

  1. Zephaniah 3:14,15

  2. Philippians 4:4

  3. Zephaniah 3:17

Advent Week 2 (Year C): Look Up, There's Beauty

Look, I know week 2 of Advent is usually about peace. But the lectionary passages for the day are so strongly themed with beauty, particularly the Apocryphal passage, that I couldn’t resist. Plus, it’s how we’re interpreting it this year at Peace for our Advent sermon series entitled “Look Up". So, a little beauty in your Advent mix this year.

God, it’s easy for us to get bogged down
In our to-do lists,
The problems we must solve,
The needs we must meet,
The expectations we put upon ourselves,
The crises we must manage --
And forget that beneath everything
There is the hum of beauty.

Beneath dust and decay,
There is a sheen of value.
Beneath disease and distress,
There is a sparkle of wisdom.
Beneath the appearance of death,
There is the glimmer of rebirth.
Beneath the cloak of sorrow and affliction,
There is the endless beauty of the glory from God (1).

Awaken us, oh God, to the beauty beneath,
The beauty that confronts us
With your presence and power,
Your plan and purpose.

We know that by the tender mercy of our God,
The dawn from on high will break upon us,
And the beauty of God will overwhelm our senses.
May we be alert, and looking for it.

Amen

1) Baruch 5:1


Litany for Addressing Racism

Hello, my name is Fran and I’m a racist.* I don’t intend to be a racist, and I don’t want to be a racist. I’m committed to uncovering and clearing it out from within myself. This may take my whole life. I know I can’t easily escape hundreds of years of cultural imprinting. This kind of deep principality can only come out by means of prayer, fasting, and long-term intention and work.

I’m less of a racist now than I used to be, I think. Which is good. But I’m nowhere near done with my transformation. I don’t have any degrees or credentials in the subject, nor have I read all the books (I’ve read some). My street cred as an advocate is next to nothing. I defer to folks who have done this work far longer and far better than my imperfect bumbling. And I defer to my sisters and brothers of color who have lived experience inside racist culture.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been pondering a few things related to current events and cultural programming. One is Thanksgiving - how the narrative taught to school children regarding the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving is largely inaccurate and whitewashed, as well as hurtful to Indigenous people.  Another is the tear-gassing of impoverished Brown people at the US border. Another is the result of recent elections, particularly those in Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi; all of which were influenced by racism against Black people (example).  

People of color have been seeing racism all along - they bear its effects in their family histories, their bodies, their bank accounts. This is not new. It’s us white folks who have waking up to do. It’s up to us to pray with humility and educate ourselves. Also: not enough white pastors are preaching about it. So this litany is for us; for white individuals and congregations who want to pray into this deep-rooted system of injustice, and posture ourselves to work for the liberation and restoration of our siblings; and who want to uncover racism where it lies hidden in our own hearts.

Oh God, we are gradually waking up
To the knowledge of our deep and hidden sins;
Most particularly, to the sin of racism
Which has affected our culture, psyche, and practice.

We thought we could say, “Oh, those racist generations have passed on. The civil rights movement already happened.”
We thought we had leveled the playing field.
We thought we could ignore Whiteness.
We thought we didn’t have to see color.
But we know that we have more work to do,
To cleanse, heal and establish justice.

We quit before the work was finished.
We were wrong.

Help us to see what we couldn’t see before.
Help us to examine everything:
Every custom and system,
Every group dynamic and assumption,
To leave no stone unturned in our mission
To rout out injustice;
To take every thought captive (1)
To the loving ethic of Christ.

This work is messy.
We feel sensitive about it.**
We feel overwhelmed and ashamed.
Help us not to minimize or shirk,
Nor capitulate to our fragile egos,
Nor be blinded by our privilege.
Give us robust hearts,
Willing to take an unflinching look at the racism within us.

And as we sift through our habits, culture and customs,
Examining them with a new sensitivity to injustice,
Help us to embody hope,
Peacemaking,
Restoration,
And above all, love for our neighbors.

Make us aligned to the Community of Heaven,
Diligently working for liberation.

Amen

1) 2 Corinthians 10:5

*If you are a white person of privilege and you say you aren’t a racist, well, you’re probably wrong and it’s best to just face it. Read more here.

**Our feelings of sensitivity as white people are small compared to the feelings of people of color who experience oppression and fear for their lives. But that doesn’t mean the feelings don’t get in our way regardless.


Advent Week 1 (Year C): Look Up, There’s Hope

Our Advent preaching series for this year is entitled “Look Up.” I’ve developed this years Advent litany series to play on that theme, as well as follow along with the Lectionary passages for the season. This one, the first in the series, centers on Luke 21 and Psalm 25.

God, the nations rage.
The earth shudders.
Storms, fires, and violence abound.
The people are in distress.

In the midst of turmoil,
In the midst of trouble and need,
In the midst of swirling forces
We look up.

So intent on the needs and crises before us,
We raise our downward gaze.
Shifting away from our worry and despair,
We adjust our focus.
Heavy-hearted, weighed down by the cares of this life (1),
We release our burdens.

We look up to the heavens,
To signs in the sun, moon, and stars (2).
We look up toward the horizon,
To the coming dawn,
Because you are our help.
Your paths are steadfast love and faithfulness.
Do not let us be put to shame
Because we trust in you.

We stand up and raise our heads;
Our redemption is drawing near (3).

Amen


  1. Luke 21:34

  2. Luke 21:25

  3. Luke 21:28

Litany for Appreciation

Happy Thanksgiving Week! Everyone is talking about my favorite things this week: Gratitude. But I actually want to talk about the thing I consider the precursor to gratitude: Appreciation.

I have heard and read a lot of spiritual teachers from many different backgrounds say something to this effect: if you can get your mind/attitude/energy into a mode of appreciation, you can change your life because then you start to change how you perceive your life. Teachers from all walks of life say: appreciation is a precursor to gratitude, and gratitude is a precursor to love.

A patron recently called my attention to this passage in the Gospel of Luke, in which we see this rare attitude of appreciation illuminated:


11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus[a] was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers[b] approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’[c] feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Ten are healed. One expresses appreciation. And I get the sense that when Jesus says “your faith has made you well” he means more than just physical wellness. I have a hunch that Jesus is acknowledging this attitude of gratitude to be a deeper inroad to wholeness; and that, somehow, appreciation is a bold exercise of faith. But here’s a thing I notice: to appreciate something, we first have to be paying attention to it. And attention is a costly thing - it takes intention and practice and deep looking. It takes what many spiritual teachers call Mindfulness.

In her book _Grateful_, Diana Butler Bass says, “Gratitude is not only an emotion; it is something we do. It is like tending a garden. It takes planting and watering and weeding. It takes time and attention. It takes learning. It takes routine. But, eventually, the ground yields, shoots come forth, and thanksgiving blooms.”

I wonder if all ten of those ex-lepers felt gratitude, but only one had any experience with doing gratitude? And if the teachers are right and the roadmap looks like this: (Attention → Appreciation → Gratitude → Love), then what does that mean for how we go about cultivating love and loving action in our lives? It’s a pretty good question, I think. Here’s a prayer for the roadmap:

God, as we seek to live lives of intentional love,
We acknowledge the importance of paying attention
To the deep self,
To the external lesson,
To the need and the want,
To the fulfillment and the calling,
To the disease and the healing,
To the existence and the blessing.

We are learning how to cultivate and grow love and loving action:
Starting with attention and observation,
Moving into appreciation and thankfulness,
Letting gratitude shift us into love.

We know that love is the foundation of the universe -
That the deepest particle,
The inmost kernel,
The alpha and the omega, is love.

But sometimes, in the midst of everything happening to us,
Love is kind of hard to get to.
So we are learning to start somewhere even simpler:
By paying attention,
By offering appreciation,
By letting appreciation lead to gratitude.

And we know that if we can get in gratitude’s groove and vicinity
It can show us the way to love,
Even in murky waters,
Even in complicated situations.

So, boldly, resisting the voices that tell us to duck and run,
We do our first act of faith,
Which is to appreciate even the meagerest of blessings,
And offer praise and thanksgiving. Amen


Litany for You're Enough, a.k.a. Litany for Hannah (Year B, Proper 28)

This week’s Lectionary reading brings us to the story of Hannah in the book of 1 Samuel. Hannah’s culture has taught her that to be worthy as a woman she must behave appropriately (1 Samuel 1:16), be wife to a decent man, and bear male children. Sons. Sons are the pinnacle of womanly accomplishment and worth in this context. Hannah has everything else: a husband who loves and prefers her over his other wife, a household, social status, food on the table. But she has no son, a situation she mourns bitterly.  And, even worse, her husband’s other wife rubs it in her face all the time. Rivalry and jealousy between these women makes the pain of her barrenness even worse. We can imagine her home being fairly toxic on the inside, despite appearing prosperous on the outside.

So Hannah regularly pleads with God to give her this thing, this one thing that she believes will complete her life and save her from worthlessness. She weeps and mourns bitterly before the Lord. So bitterly in fact that Eli the priest thinks for a moment that she has come into the temple drunk.

And God in God’s mercy capitulates. God gives her what she wants, the son she bargains and begs for, that she believes will fulfill her. Which is great! And a kid is a good thing to want! God is pretty nice like that, although that’s not everyone’s story. Plenty of people beg and plead for things (or babies) they want and never get them. Or they get them in ways they didn’t anticipate.

But here’s the secret: when we circle back around to the love and regard of God, the truth we’ll eventually find is that we already had what we needed. There’s nothing we have to do or have to make God love us. God’s love is before and behind everything; it’s the base-level assumption we can make. The abundance of love we get doesn’t depend upon our relationships with other people, or what we do, or how healthy we are, or what babies we have or don’t have.

All the ways society tries to sell us on the idea that we aren’t worthy as we are, we aren’t enough as we are, we aren’t pretty or thin enough, we aren’t rich or accomplished enough, we aren’t nice enough, we aren’t bold enough - it’s all rubbish. You’ve got exactly what you need to be loved and welcomed by God.

So, Hannah, we’re really glad you had Samuel - that turned out pretty well. But if you hadn’t, you’d still be worthy of a story.

God, our culture is always sending us messages
That say we aren’t enough.
Our economy is always trying to sell us something
That will make us worthy.

When the whole truth, and the whole message of Christ
Is that the Community of God is right here, right now,
And we have everything we need to live in it,
To be fulfilled by Love.

Yes, there are things we want to do and have in this life,
But none of them make us worthy of love.
Our dignity and belovedness are innate -
The love of God toward us is a given.

So much of the work we are here to do
Is to learn to notice love -
How it’s already abundant
Already evident
Already the fabric of the universe
Already shareable.

Our belovedness, and the resources that affords us
Are what we must wake up to,
So that we can silence the voices that shame and destroy,
And be a people who walk in love.

Through all the noise we hear the voice of God saying:
“You are loved.
You are love.
You love.”

Amen.


Litany for the Widow’s Mite (Year B, Proper 27)

This litany is inspired by this week’s Lectionary reading from the Gospel of Mark.

God, many of us don’t think we have much to offer.
We discount our gifts, creativity, or abilities;
Or we have trauma that keeps us from offering,
Or we don’t trust ourselves.

But we know that you see us and are inviting us to give,
No matter how small the gift.
We know that you accept us,
    Even our two-bit gifts,
    Our meagerness,
    Our poverty of heart;
Because you are abundantly loving,
    Abundantly patient,
    Abundantly kind,
    Abundantly generous.

And we know that when we offer up ourselves,
Our time,
Our resources,
Our attention,
You make miracles with what we’ve offered -
Water becomes wine (1),
Loaves and fishes become food for thousands (2),
Streams flow in deserts (3).

No gift is too small in your eyes,
No start is too humble,
No moment too late,
No effort unseen.

The smallest seed becomes the largest tree.
The most ordinary generosity changes the world.

So, we offer to you our mites and bits
And ask for them to be enlarged,
That you would expand our efforts and our seeing
So that we may be part of the transformation.

Amen

  1. John 2:1-11

  2. John 6:1-14

  3. Psalm 107:35

Litany for Neighbors (Proper 24, Year B)

This litany is inspired by a reading of this week’s Gospel passage from Mark 12.

Christ, you taught us the keys to life,
The greatest commandments:
Love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength;
Love our neighbors as ourselves (1).

We are asked to love Love
And to serve Love.
Teach us what this means, oh God,
And help us to do it well.

So fill us with love, oh God,
That we don’t have room for anything else.
Let us be enlarged and expanded
And awakened by Love.

Let our eyes never veer from Love,
Our hearts never stray from Love,
Our minds be fixed on Love,
Our bodies dedicated to love’s service.
And as we do the work of learning to accept and love ourselves,
Let us also accept and love our neighbors.  

Let care and concern for our neighbors well-being and highest good
Be the hallmark of our work.
For these are our neighbor and our family:
The poor, the lonely, the sick, the prisoner
The underdog, the misunderstood, the ones who long,
The far-away and the beggar at our gate,
The flawed and the downtrodden
The familiar and the alien.

Love is who and Whose we are.
And love is what we do.
Amen.


  1. Mark 12:30,31

Litany for Good Things (Proper 25, Year B)

This litany is based on a reading of the Lectionary passages for this week from Job, Psalms, and Jeremiah: “With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble…”

God, you invented all things from nothing.
Your imagination was the beginning of everything.
We get to experience life and beauty
Because you imagined them.
We get to explore and learn in the world
Because you brought us out of yourself.

We get stuck a lot on judging things and situations.
We say “this is good and that is bad.”
We approve some things and condemn others.
We accept some experiences and resist others.

But the truth is, resistance causes us suffering;
No purpose of yours can be thwarted (1).
The truth is, we can’t know the vastness of your goodness,
And our best option is to surrender to it.

Even in what we consider trouble,
You do good things.
Even when we experience pain,
You do good things.
Even when all we see is chaos,
You do good things.

We surrender now to the Highest Good,
The Deepest Joy,
The Biggest Love,
The Best Life.
And it’s in you, God; made by and through you, for you, for us:
The Divine Goodness.

May we who sow in tears
Reap with shouts of joy (2).
May we seek Goodness
And find it all the days of our lives.

Amen

1) Job 42:2
2) Psalm 126:5



Litany for the Greatness of God (Year B, Proper 24)

This week’s Lectionary includes the passage from Job in which God sits Job down and sets him straight about who’s Who in the universe. Then the Mark 10 passage, Jesus sits his disciples down and sets them straight about the nature of Greatness. Taken together, the passages are an invitation to return to wonder and humility and trust; to refrain from centering ourselves in the narrative, and start looking both outside ourselves, and deep within.*


God, so often we are hunkered down, focused on our responsibilities,
Our eyes on our small screens,
Our awareness on our troubles or our achievements;
That we forget about your greatness and beauty.

We forget to look at stars and clouds.
We forget to partake of silence and solitude.
We forget to listen to wind and whisper.
We let our attention wander away from you.

Remind us, oh God, in our daily bread and practice,
That you are the author of all things,
That you made love the building blocks of the universe,
That your kindness caused heaven and nature to exist.

Remind us, oh God, that we are both your handiwork and your Beloved,
That we are connected to all of creation,
That we are temples in which you dwell (1);
And yet you dwell in unapproachable light (2).

And when we get too busy trying to know you with our rational minds
Trying to think thoughts about you;
Bring us back to infinite enfolding love,
Which can only be experienced, felt, and surrendered to

Help us to return to wonder,
And turn our fear to love;
For you are clothed with honor and majesty,
Wrapped in light as with a garment (3).
You inspire wonder and trust.
All beauty has its origin in you.

Amen


  1. 1 Corinthians 3:16

  2. 1 Timothy 6:16

  3. Psalm 104:1,2

*I was especially encouraged by last week’s meditations from the Center for Action and Contemplation. The God Particle particularly made my eyes leaky.

Litany for Conscious Anger

God, so many of us go around with anger simmering right under the surface of our emotions:
We’ve been wronged.
We’ve been traumatized.
We’ve been duped.
There is injustice.
There are broken systems.
We’re angry with ourselves.
We’re angry with others.

And sometimes we can’t understand what you’re doing so we are angry with you
We feel you’ve forgotten us.
We feel like the world is falling to pieces around us,
And you have failed us.

Our anger can be a useful tool
That propels us toward right action,
Fuels our good works,
And causes us to change.

But sometimes our anger doesn’t find its proper place -
It burrows down and festers;
Causing us more pain than the wound did to begin with,
And its effects seep out sideways.

Oh God, teach us to deal rightly with anger:
To funnel its energy properly,
To release it at the appropriate time and place,
To protect ourselves from anger gone bad.

Teach us how not to fight anger with anger,
But to be peacemakers and lovers;
Reflecting the image of Christ,
And covered in grace. Amen

Litany for Victims of Abuse/Assault

I have also written Litany for Victims of Sexual Violence, on this topic. As I have watched the news lately, and heard from so many of my own friends who have trauma from abuse, assault, and violence, either sexual or otherwise, I feel its necessary to dedicate more time and space to these topics.


Oh God, when will victims cease to receive blame?
How long, O Lord, must we wait for justice?
When will the oppressed and abused be regarded?
How long, O Lord?
When will rulers cease to be tyrants?
How long, O Lord?
When will the poor receive mercy?
How Long, O Lord?

We speak to you of a tragic state of affairs.
We speak to you, Lord, about injustice.
We speak to you of the pain of the oppressed.
We speak to you, Lord, about struggle.

We look to the day when our righteous anger is no longer necessary,
When our vigilance is no longer needed,
When our activism is no longer relevant,
When our search for justice is done;

We look to the day when the warrior may rest,
The children be at peace,
The sword be laid down,
The mourning be comforted.

Our longing is known to you;
Our sighing is not hidden from you (1)
Come quickly to rescue us.
Redeem us.
Make haste to help us (2),
O Lord, our salvation.

Amen

1) Psalm 38:9
2) Psalm 38:22