An East Lake Liturgy

This is a simple but deliberate liturgy for opening and closing the day. I wrote it in the context of a particular community, one to which I feel meaningfully connected even when I’m not there in person.

It is not an abstract spiritual exercise, but a call to sacramental living. This serves as a liturgy of the everyday incarnation,

The use of plural pronouns reflects the ritual’s nature as a collective endeavor of the community rather than as an act of individual piety. We are part of one body, even when we are not physically present with one another.

An East Lake Liturgy
For the morning:
We open this day in the promise of God’s love and presence.
We open our hearts,
we open our minds,
we open our table,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, with joy we may know
God through each person we meet today.

In the shadow of Ruffner Mountain,
In the shadow of the interstate,
in the shadow of buildings and bell towers and overgrown lots,
may we bring God’s presence into the life of this community.
In laundromats, in schools, in convenience stores, in homes,
may we know ourselves as gathered around a common table.
This is the work of God’s church and its people.

For the evening:
We end the meal that is this day in a spirit of thanksgiving.
We know we have fallen short many times.
Through God’s grace we go blessedly into the night and
begin again tomorrow.

The grace of Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit
is with us all.

A Litany for All Women on Mother’s Day

A Litany for Mother’s Day:

One: On this day, we honor women.
All: We honor all who give life,
all who sustain life,
all who nurture and care,
all who mend and strengthen.

We remember and we rejoice in their presence in our lives.

One: At the same time, we grieve.
All: We grieve with those who remember their loss.
For mothers no longer present among us in bodily form.
For women who wished to be biological mothers,
but whose lives or bodies took a different path.

We mourn also the pain of broken relationships,
the sorrow of those who could not be what they wanted to be,
those who could not be what we needed,
those who could not be what the world needed,

We remember and we grieve.

Where forgiveness is called for,
we work to forgive.

One: We lift up to you all women.
All: We lift up all women who give of themselves in the raising of a child,
regardless of whether that child is theirs by blood.
We are grateful for the presence of so many who give so much.

One: This day we honor women,
All: whose spirit and gift has blessed our lives.
We lift up our gratitude.
We lift up our prayers for forgiveness.
We lift up our joy and our sorrow.
And we release it all into God’s loving presence.


A Morning (Mourning) Prayer for a Difficult Week

dear God, dear God,
we don’t know what to
make of this week.
Or last week.
Or next week.

So much sorrow surrounds us
even in the midst of the beauty of the day.
broken windows, broken hearts, broken spines.
People held in place by a
heavy, brutal hand.
Bricks and mortar
bricks and stones
argued points
harsh words
We think other people are ignorant and
they think we are,
a sharp crack in cultural understanding.
We lift up to you natural disasters and
human ones.

God, we witness destruction and
we know death,
distant and near.
Help us not to turn away.
Give us wisdom so that we might
speak well into sorrow,
that we might act with skill and compassion,
that we might mend old wounds
or at least stop wounding
or at least want to stop wounding.
We confess our sins,
for we have wounded.

Help us to turn our faces toward justice like we
lift them to sun on lovely spring day.
We cry out for a transcendent presence,
something greater than us,
something that asks us to be better
today than we were yesterday, to be better
tomorrow than we were today.

Jesus taught us to side with the oppressed.
May it be so
wherever we might find them.
May we find them.
May we seek them.
May we living according to your transcendent presence.
May we live into that world,
on earth as it is in heaven,
heaven on earth.
May we make it so.


A Desperate Evening Prayer – April 27, 2015

Prayers for Baltimore
Prayers for Baltimore
Prayers for Baltimore

Prayers for Nepal
Prayers for Nepal
Prayers for Nepal

Prayers for all who suffer
all who know fear
all who are caught in the middle
who are caught out in the cold
who are left hungry
who are hungry for justice
who see no other way
who have no hope
who have no reason for hope
who have no home
Prayers for all who grieve.


A Prayer for the World

On this beautiful and busy day
I pray for the Earth and
all that dwells within.

I pray for the rocks and mountains,
the foundation of life.
I pray for the soil,
the giver of all life.

I pray for the water which
roars and rolls,
sustains all life,
quenches all thirst.
I pray for the waves, the eddies, the currents,
the stream, the creek, the muddy puddle,
rivers and lakes and oceans,
gulfs and seas,
all the living water.

I pray for the sky above, for
the air,
the clouds,
the winds.

I pray for all living creatures –
the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air,
the animals of the field,
all creeping things that creep upon the ground,
all human beings that are on the face of the earth.

I pray for their toil, their peace, their place.
I pray for entire ecosystems
of which we are a part.
I pray for all of us, all things that breathe.

I confess to a gracious and loving God –
I have not loved the world enough.
Any part of it.
There is violence and exploitation
and it is my sin too.
I pray that the soul of the world that I
have wronged would forgive me.

I beg for an earth filled with wisdom, mercy, justice
an earth of enough.
Enough water and food and shelter
Enough care and learning
Enough bread and wine.
Enough love.

I pray for us all to know our place in the world
to find peace and
to share peace
among all.


Prayer for Wednesday, the Week After Holy Week

The day after
the day after
the day after Easter
is still

We have seen the stone
moved away.
Fled in terror.
Fast forwarded to the
present moments’
pastel joys and
vivid sorrows.

Most merciful and loving God

We beg to remain joyful, to
stand still awed, to
stand still in our own fear and trembling.

We pray today for nuclear negotiations
feckless politicians
drought conditions.

We lift up educational testing and
students who dream of learning and
those who don’t know how.

We grieve those who pass from
our earthly world unto yours.
We grieve their absence and our longing.

We rejoice with music on the radio
strings and brass and pipes or
lyrics that we know.

We rejoice with baseball games, dear God, and
long glorious sunsets
ephemeral spring flowers
small green leaves on trees.

We rejoice with soft voices,
tucking our children tenderly
beneath light covers
in the deep quiet of darkness.

Near and distant God,

we pray today for the
students of Garissa, for
those who died and
those who live on.

We rejoice for Anthony Ray Hinton
as we face the shame of our efforts meant to kill him.
We are thankful
this man was spared.

In this Easter season,
we know that you, God, are everywhere among us,
we are reminded that we see you and must seek you especially
among the least of these.

We pray for the memory of Jesus Christ,
shot in the back.
Jesus Christ, also known as
Walter L. Scott
formerly of North Charleston, South Carolina.

We pray for the memory of Jesus Christ, also known as
Rodney Todd
and his 7 children aged 6-15

In this Easter season, dear God,
we pray for the people of
Aleppo, Ayotzinapa, and Aden.
We pray for Muslims and Jews and Christians
in Israel and Palestine.
We pray for
food, shelter, safety
medical care

God of love and light
God of mercy and justice
God of yesterday and tomorrow
God of this moment
this moment of Easter

We lift our hearts unto you and
raise a loud






Prayer to forgive – from the 2014 ecumenical Pride service

During our local Pride week last year, people of faith – LGBTQ people and allies – came together for an ecumenical prayer service. This is the prayer that I offered there. The current turmoil about Religious Freedom Restoration Acts in Indiana, Arkansas, and elsewhere brings to mind the state of heart that went into this prayer.

Gracious and loving God,

This is hard. Forgiveness is hard.

We know you have called us to forgive – to forgive ourselves, to forgive our neighbors and our families, those close to us. And even – especially – to forgive our enemies.

And we know that is not always easy.

For a long time our communities of faith were one of those enemies.

God, we thank you that some churches and synagogues, and temples and mosques and other communities of faith have to see us – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer – whatever label you choose – to see us all as precious children of God, fully included in your love. We are grateful for this. From out of pain, may we find forgiveness and new relationship.

God, we also know that many communities of faith do not seek our forgiveness, for they see nothing for which they must atone.

Yet God you ask us to forgive them too. This is difficult. It is risky. It is a constant process, not a single place at which we arrive.

God, help us to forgive them. Not to cease holding them accountable, but to practice a continual forgiveness. Because we know what bitterness does to our hearts. And that we are called to something better.

Help us to forgive them because they know not what they do.

Wrap us in your loving heart, oh God and carry us along in your example.

This we ask in the name of all that is holy.


A Communal Lenten Prayer

My next post was due to be a follow-up on the blight conversation, but I wrote this for a mid-week Lenten service and thought I’d go ahead and drop it in here. It was recited together by the liturgist and the congregation.

God of grace and glory,

We gather together in your presence in this holy season,
aware of our brokenness,
confessing how easy it is to make idols of earthly things.
For this we repent.
We seek to set aside all that separates us from you.
We want to risk forgiveness of one another and
forgiveness in the fullness of your mercy.
Help us to hear and to see.
Help us to live in the blessed assurance of faith,
without illusion.
We gather together and open our hearts to your presence.
Knowing we are forgiven.
Knowing we have work to do.
Knowing that through you we dwell in grace and freedom
even when we struggle to feel it.
We thank you for this day and
this place and
these people.
We lift this vast, beautiful, and broken world up to you
as we praise your holy name.

A Communal Lament for Ferguson

A Liturgy of Communal Lament, written in the wake of the Ferguson protests

One: Dear God, what must we do?

All: My God, my God, we grieve.

One: Dear God, we grieve.

All: Dear God, we grieve.

One: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. But we see the darkness all around, dear God. Sometimes we cannot see through the darkness to find the light.

All: Together we grieve.

One:  We grieve for young black men lying in the street.

We grieve for Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

We grieve for Tamir Rice and Akai Gurley.

We grieve for the all the precious lives we throw away.

We bow our heads and ask for a new world,

a world where life is not disposable.

All: We grieve.

One: We grieve because too often black lives do not matter in our world,

brown lives,

bodies at the border,

dead in the desert.

We grieve for men with guns who believe they need to shoot to kill

We grieve for those who kill.

All: We grieve because too often black lives do not matter in our world.

We grieve for brown lives, bodies at the border, dead in the desert.

We grieve for men with guns who believe they need to shoot to kill

We grieve for those who kill.

One: From the Psalm 44: Why do you sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not cast us off forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For we sink down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up, come to our help. Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.

All: We mourn our racism,

our systems that deal death instead of life,

that offer the justice of the market,

the justice of the slave market.

One: O come, o come Emmanuel.

All: O come, o come Emmanuel.

We need justice for all.

We long for love for all creation.

One: Lynch law

Jim Crow

Mass incarceration

Inadequate education

Oh God, oh God, we grieve

All: Together we grieve.

One: We hope for joy.

All: We long for peace.

One: From Psalm 80: Turn again, O God of hosts; look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, the stock that your right hand planted. They have burned it down with fire, they have cut it down.

All: Together we grieve.

One: We grieve for Syrians slaughtered by bombs,

thousands dead from Ebola,

our dying earth,

species dying,

air dying,

seas dying,

all the death we cause

when what we really need is life

All: Why, God? Why?

One: What are we to do but love one another?

All: What are we to do but love one another?

We hope for peace.

We wait.

And we grieve.

One: Let us be silent.