Litanies & Prayers

Strangers we were

Listen, O people of the Way, and take note. Your ancestors were once illegal aliens in the land of Southern Appalachia. Boat people, all of you, undocumented immigrants. Scots-Irish trash; crackers and kaffirs, wetbacks and wops; gooks, goyim, gringos and gypsies.

Strangers we were, with no stake in the Promise; hopeless, helpless, beggarly-born.

Guest worker, day laborer, field hand, dark tan. Stay away from traffic stops—or disappear in a police van.

Strangers we were, with no stake in the Promise; stranded, branded, object of scorn. Read more ›

All manner of things

Blessed are those whose hearts bow and whose hands fold in reverence to the Source of all life.

The bounty of the garden will fill their houses.

Their hope of redemption will guide the tempest-tossed to Heaven’s sheltered sanctuary.

Mercy is their guiding star; and justice, the blaze on their trail. Read more ›

Bewildering Word

When Jesus began his ministry, Rome was the sole superpower, governed by Tiberius, adoptive son of Caesar Augustus, whose praises were carved in stone.

From untamed territory a voice resounds: Prepare the Way! Unlock the gate! Make straight the reach of Love renowned.

Caesar was the “redeemer” who brought “salvation,” establishing “peace and security for the world,” the only true “Lord” in whom all should have “faith.”

Rise up you valleys! Recline you mountains! The Word breaks, unleashed, from every empire’s rule, every temple’s sway. Read more ›

Greater love hath none than this

A litany for worship inspired by John 15:13

by Ken Sehested

Greater love hath none than this:

Than to caress the battered heart of one whose hopes have collapsed.

Greater love hath none than this: Read more ›

Come again and feed the earth

A litany for worship inspired by IEzekiel 34:11-22.

by Ken Sehested

Enough! says the Insurgent of Heaven. I’ve had enough of your bank-bailing politicians and private-jetting executives! Enough of your trickle-down economies and your holiday-charity binges! Enough of your bloated-budget militaries and gated-community developers! Enough of your water-wasting, soil-squandering, air-fouling habits!

Hear, oh people of provident pasture: Judgment is coming. Heaven’s Reign and earth’s regimes are destined for collision.

You who feed on good pasture, why must you trample every meadow? You who drink pure water, why must you muddy the entire stream? Read more ›

The God Without Price

Litany of confession and pardon, inspired by Isaiah 55 and Acts 4:32-35

by Ken Sehested

Call to Confession

The Word of Strong Deliverance is whispered in the ears of all who long for the relief of pardon. “Listen,” says the Assuring One, “all of you who thirst for righteousness, who hunger for justice, come to the waters. All of you who know you are broke, who have no way of buying your freedom, no way of bargaining for joy—come, buy, eat and rejoice!”

Here, in this Circle, the good news is learned: “Come, buy wine and milk with neither cash nor credit. Provision is freely offered, but only to those acquainted with their penniless condition.” Read more ›

Wash your feet

Litany for use in a Maundy Thursday footwashing service, inspired by John 13

Long before the people of the Promise migrated to Egypt, long before their cries to heaven roused the ears of the Almighty, long before Moses led them on their freedom march to the promised land, the Lord God appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. As he did, three men suddenly appeared, and Abraham ran to meet them and bowed to the ground.

In the same way, Yahweh appeared in a vision to Isaiah, in the land of Judah, and said, Declare this to my people: “Wash yourselves. Make yourselves clean!”

Back in Mamre, Abraham said to the heavenly visitors: “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant.”

And in Isaiah’s vision, God continued: “And in the washing, cease to do evil, learn to do good. Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” Read more ›

My soul magnifies you

A contemporary midrash on the Magnificat, inspired by Luke 1:46-55

by Ken Sehested

My soul magnifies you, O Lord, and my spirit rejoices in your Saving Presence.

Everything in me comes alive when you look in my direction.

No longer will I languish among the unnamed, the unknown, the unworthy. Read more ›

John the baptizer

by Ken Sehested

John.

Such a tame name for a man born to inhabit
           the wild side of heaven’s incursion into
           earth’s contempt. Read more ›

Martin Luther King's birthday commemoration

A litany for worship

by Ken Sehested

Admiring Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream is not the same as being captured by it. Too many find it possible to respect the man but relinquish the mission.

It has become too easy to revere the dreamer but renege on the dream.

So let us now recall the deep roots of that vision as spoken in ages past: Read more ›