Random Liturgy

I was asked to write an opening litany for my college reunion’s ecumenical memorial service.  Here it is:

In the midst of reunions and laughter, music and stories, we take this time away to remember:

We remember those whose lives touched our own, their friendship and talents, the gifts that they left behind.

We grieve their loss; we cannot see their smile, we cannot hear their voices, we cannot swap jokes, but we are not entirely bereft.

Something of them lingers still – a place, a memory, an accomplishment.

For the gift of their lives, for the love and friendship we received from them, we give our thanks.

And now we wish them peace.


Sunday Prayer
O Lord, you do hear our prayers; at least, we hope and believe that you do. And in hearing them, you take them into your immense heart, and shower light and love into these people who hurt and these people who rejoice and these people who wonder.

We hope and believe that prayer changes things, and we pray for change in the world, that poverty would be changed into abundance, that swords would be changed into ploughshares; that anger and fear would be changed into compassion and trust.

We hope that prayer changes us, too; that cancer cells would be changed into innocuous little things; that prejudice would change into humility; that bones would mend and hearts that are broken would become stronger in their scars; that mourning would, in the right time, a year or an eon, turn into dancing.

So we offer you our prayers this day, these spoken ones and those unspoken one that have settled into our hearts if not yet our voices.

Hear us as we speak the words Jesus taught:
Our Father…


Statement on the Gift of Marriage
Marriage is a gift from God; it’s not the best of God’s gifts, but it’s one of the best. And like all gifts, we handle it gently at first, wanting to preserve it, not wanting to chip it or drop it or lose it; and then, like all gifts, after a while we stop wrapping it up in the anti-tarnish cloth, and we stick it in the desk drawer that’s most convenient; marriage becomes commonplace, every day, as it should be. But it’s still a gift.

And like many of the gifts that God gives us, the gift also requires something of us. Once I would have said that marriage requires the best part of ourselves; now I would say it requires the most honest part of ourselves. Pretense won’t work long in marriage; it might save the hour but it won’t save the day. Only honesty will work – the truth about our own selves, the truth about our beloveds, the truth about having to wash someone else’s socks, and listen to them snore, and live with the imperfections that will never go away. The truth about ourselves is there too – that we can be mean, or stingy with our time or money or forgiveness, that sometimes we pretend we’re asleep so we don’t have to talk.

Marriage is hard work, the way building a cathedral is hard work. There are days when it feels like lugging rough stone, and your back aches and your heart aches. There are days spent trying to make all the tiny pieces of stained glass fit, and the attention you have to pay to it is intense and exhausting. There are also days when you sit in that space, in that marriage, and you wonder at the beauty of it, of your beloved.

Mostly, though, marriage is joy. It carries you along like some deep, warm ocean current, and it’s fun, and mostly out of your control, and you see things and experience things you never would have imagined.

Marriage is one of God’s best gifts. The best gift is grace, and you’ll need plenty of that in your marriage. But it’s there for the taking, on this day of promises, in the days and years and decades that lie ahead, full of work and joy and socks and stones, and wonder, and gratitude, and love.


A few ditties riffing on the story of Blind Bartimeus

Dear God,
Let me be blind to the things that do not matter
What I wear
What I own
What I look like
What I have achieved
And let me see You at work
In acts of creation
And moments of joy
In the paradox of grace
And the example of humility.
So may I follow you on the way.
And so we sit by the road, beggars for love or status or something
And then…
Some stay silent, afraid to ask for help.
Some stay silent, happy with the hard known and tentative about the healed unknown.
Some stay silent, and hopeless, thinking themselves beyond reach.
love me.
because I do not want to be alone anymore
because I am a bit desperate for some community
because I am your child in need of grace


What’s that, you say? What can you do for me?
I am sorry that I cannot even begin to know.
But don’t go away, not just yet.



Gathering Music – Spiegel im Spiegel (“Mirror in Mirror)” Pärt

The season of Lent is a time when we are invited to reflect on our living, the good we have done, the harm we have caused, the questions that waken us in the middle of the night, the joys that sustain us when life is hard. Lent is a time when we are invited to reflect on our relationship with our Creator, the gifts that Christ offered, our willingness to let the Holy Spirit into our living. As the gathering music invites us to imagine the infinite reflection of two mirrors facing each other, so may we begin our Lenten reflection.

Words that bring us together (from Job 38, Genesis 2, John 1, Psalm 139, & Romans 8)

‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone
when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?
We are dust, and to dust we shall return.

“Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”
All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night’,
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.
I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Let us worship God.

Admitting the Truth of Our Lives
Holy One, we believe that we were created in love;
Yet when we face ourselves in the mirror, too often we do not see love.
For our prejudice
For our hatred
For our pride
For our apathy
For our cruelty
For our blindness:
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Holy One, we believe we are created in Your image;
But when we look in the mirror, we do not see anything good.
For our hollow sense of self
For our inflated ego
For our inner critic
For our needless stoicism
For our sense of worthlessness
For our inability to see ourselves as beloved:
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Holy One, we believe we are called to see the face of Christ in all;
But we refuse to see Christ in some.
For holding on to old resentments
For calling another ‘enemy’
For allowing the color of one’s skin to influence us
For negating the other names by which You are called
For seeing borders as fences and not invitations to exploration
For not living the truth that the whole world is in your hands:
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
And hear our silent prayer…. Amen.

I wrote this for our Ash Wednesday service, and was inspired by Marcus Borg’s thoughts on sin and forgiveness in The Heart of Christianity.  (Harper San Francisco, 2003.)


O Holy One, hear our prayers…. (time for silent prayers)

O Holy One, it’s not that we are loathsome as much as we are broken –

Mend the broken places, and make them stronger.

O Holy One, we miss the people that used to be a part of our lives –

Help us to put aside the past hurts, to reach out, to reconnect, to reconcile.

O Holy One, we are lost and cannot find our way home –

Come and find us; rescue us from the frightening places.

O Holy One, there is just too much, and we are so anxious about it all –

Infuse peace and serenity in our hearts.

O Holy One, we are so proud of our accomplishments that we are blind to the victories of others, and blithely ignore you as the source of all gifts –

Open our eyes to the wonders of our brothers and sisters, and remind us that you empower all of us.

O Holy One, we are locked up in cells of our own making, and in the prisons our culture creates –

Free us, liberate us, release us from the bondage that limits our full expression of love and faith.

O Holy One, our fasts only make us think about what we miss and do not point us to you –

Lavish us with grace so that we may accept all your bounty.

O Holy One, there is so much that is not right –

Remind us that you have claimed the world, and us, as your own, good and beloved and redeemed. Amen.


3 thoughts on “Random Liturgy

  1. These Spirit-breathed words say so much in such little space and send my spirit soaring!

  2. I am enjoying the everyday conversation of prayer that is from your heart. Blessings to you


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