Litanies & Prayers


A litany for worship inspired by Matthew 1:18-25

by Ken Sehested
{Adapted as a litany for worship from a longer poem by the same name.}

Joseph. Obscured brother, consigned to the margins of Incarnation’s story. Calloused hands now shield the shame of face disgraced.

Thoughts of Mary smudge the heart as tears smear the cheek. Betrothed of Mary now bulging with child. Whose? How, and Why?

Unable to provide more than squalid accommodation in your beloved’s night of travail. Enduring embarrassed encounters with wild-eyed shepherds and strangely-clothed pilgrims from obscure and distant lands, each with incredulous stories of starry encounters. Read more ›

Testimony time of terror (3)

Standing with the Word of God, for the earth and against the world: A litany for worship

by Ken Sehested

One: Our nation is at war, and our hearts are torn. The seeds of fear are planted in terror and harvested in violence.

All: How long, O Lord, how long?

One: The dream of a new order birthed in justice and baptized in mercy has been ruptured by the nightmare of bloody enmity. Read more ›

Come Unto Me

A litany for worship inspired by Matthew 11:28-30

by Ken Sehested

Fretfully does my heart drag its heels into the sanctuary of delight. For my wanton days and weary praise reveal the toll taken by life’s relentless demands.

Come unto me, and I shall give you rest.

To where shall I appeal for release from such encumbrance? To whom shall I entreat to lay these burdens down? Read more ›

Spirits collide

A conversation with Isaiah 35

by Ken Sehested

A meditation written in the fall of 1990 as half a million US troops mustered in Saudia Arabia
for an assault (The Gulf War) on Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait. It was the presence of
these troops in one of Islam’s most sacred terrains that provoked Osama bin Laden
to create al-Qaeda to launch his terror campaign.

O God, I am frightened. Anxious are my waking hours and fretful is my sleep. Even as I pray I sense that desert sands in remote places are readied, eager, to bleach the bones of mothers’ sons, fathers’ daughters, children of us all. The corrupt, lustful glory of vain rulers now erupts across parched land. Hear our prayer, O Lord. 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 ›


A litany for worship

by Ken Sehested

It is good and proper to give thanks to God.

And to petition these gifts of the Spirit:

Generosity, the secret of wealth. Read more ›

Who are you?

A litany for worship inspired by Isaiah 11:1-10

by Ken Sehested


When we are asked—Who are you?—what shall we say?

We are followers of Jesus who believe that doing justice and loving mercy are intimately tied to walking humbly with God. Read more ›

Covenant Vows for new and renewing members

A litany for worship

Background: Circle of Mercy Congregation has no indefinite members.
Each year, on the anniversary of our founding, both new and renewing members join
in a covenant reaffirming our vision and mission, on the first Sunday of Advent
(or second, if the first falls on Thanksgiving holiday weekend).


{Leader}  In this watchful season, we gather ’round the table of bounty to embrace newcomers to our Circle and to renew our covenant vows. To these new ones, we ask: Do you know where you are, what are you promising, and what is being promised to you? Read more ›

Go to the hallowed abode

A litany for worship inspired by Psalm 122

by Ken Sehested

In the face of endless aggrievement and obstinate bereavement, despite hope-contempting fear on display in every mother’s tear,

Let us go, let us go to the hallowed abode of the One who brings solace and cheer.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, where Abraham’s children contend; pray, too, for the peace of Asheville*, each fracture and failure amend. Read more ›

Pound the doors of heaven

A litany for worship inspired by Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

by Ken Sehested

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you, “Violence!” and you will not save?

We pound the doors of Heaven, shouting “Listen! Pay attention! Are you asleep!”

Why do you make me see wrong-doing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. Read more ›