Let’s pray the litany for Lent

LCMS president Matthew Harrison challenges everyone to join him in a Lenten project that is not giving something up, that is doing something very positive for others, and that will benefit your spiritual life:  Praying the Litany every day.

The Litany is an ancient structure for prayer that builds on Biblical texts and that covers EVERYTHING we are to pray for, in vivid and piercing language.   Yes, Catholics have a version, but it goes back before the rise of what we would recognize as Roman Catholicism, all the way to the early church of the 6th century.  The Reformation made good use of it.  (We Lutherans and hangers on at Patrick Henry College had been getting together to pray the Litany every week, though this semester we’ve been doing Vespers.)  Here are President Harrison’s comments on why the Litany is so helpful:

Left to ourselves, bereft of texts as the foundation of our prayers, we are often left praying “Dear God, give me a mini-bike,” as I was wont to pray as a 12 year old – and am prone to pray even today!!!!!! Texts of the scriptures Lords Prayer, Ten Commandments and scriptural texts Creed, Litany! lay down Gods thoughts as the foundation of prayer, the tarmac if you will, from which our meditations may gently or quickly rise, aided by the Holy Spirit. The fulsome petitions of the Litany take us out of ourselves, to pray for the church, pastors and teachers, our enemies, women with children, the poor, the imprisoned and much much more. And all for mercy, growing out of the great petitions of the blind, the lame and the ill who comes to Jesus in the New Testament, “Lord have mercy!” “Kyrie eleison!” The Lord loves to have mercy. The Lord came to have mercy. The Lord continues to have mercy.

You’ll find the litany in any standard Lutheran hymnal worth its salt. Pray it daily with me for Lent won’t you?

via Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison: Lets Pray the Litany Daily: Kyrie Eleison!.

Here it is.  (Other versions going around have what must be an accidental omission, the grounding of the prayer in Christ — “by the mystery of your holy incarnation. . . .by your agony and bloody sweat.”  The version in the Lutheran Service Book is even better to use because it adds the Lord’s Prayer and closes with a collect, which can be a time for individual petitions.  Also, the format is really good and easy to use,whether with a group, your family, or individually.)

P: O Lord,
C: Have mercy.

P: O Christ,
C: Have mercy.

P: O Lord,
C: Have mercy.

P: O Christ,
C: Hear us.

P: God the Father, in heaven,
C: have mercy.

P: God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
C: Have mercy.

P: God the Holy Spirit.
C: Have mercy.

P: Be gracious to us.
C: Spare us, good Lord.

P: Be gracious to us.
C: Help us, good Lord.

P: From all sin, from all error, from all evil; from the crafts and assaults of the devil; from sudden and evil death; from pestilence and famine; from war and bloodshed; from sedition and from rebellion; from lightning and tempest; from all calamity by fire and water; and from everlasting death;
C: Good Lord, deliver us.

P: By the mystery of Your holy incarnation; by Your holy nativity; by Your baptism, fasting, and temptation; by Your agony and bloody sweat; by Your cross and Passion; by Your precious death and burial; by Your glorious resurrection and ascension; and by the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter;
C: Help us, good Lord.

P: In all time of our tribulation, in all time of our prosperity, in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment,
C: Help us, good Lord.

P: We poor sinners implore You
C: To hear us, O Lord.

P: To rule and govern Your holy Christian Church, to preserve all pastors and ministers of Your Church in the true knowledge and understanding of Your wholesome Word and to sustain them in holy living, to put an end to all schisms and causes of offense, to bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived, to bless the Church’s life-giving message that Jesus is Lord, to bring comfort to the sorrowing and hope to those living in fear, to beat down Satan under our feet, to send faithful laborers into Your harvest, and to accompany Your Word with Your grace and Spirit,
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.

P: To raise those that fall and to strengthen those that stand, and to comfort and help the weakhearted and the distressed,
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.

P: To give to all peoples concord and peace, to preserve our land from discord and strife, to give our country Your protection in every time of need, to direct and defend our president and all in authority, to bless and protect our magistrates and all our people, to keep in safety the members of our armed forces and to give wisdom to those in command,
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.

P: To forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers and to turn their hearts; to give and preserve to our use the kindly fruits of the earth; and graciously to hear our prayers;
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.

P: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
C: We implore You to hear us.

P: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
C: Have mercy.

P: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
C: Have mercy.

P: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
C: Grant us Your peace.

P: O Christ,
C: Hear us.

P: O Lord,
C: Have mercy.

P: O Christ,
C: Have mercy.

P: O Lord,
C: Have mercy. Amen

Praying the Litany would be a good activity for our blog community.  Do it every day, but if you forget or miss a day, don’t worry.  We aren’t being legalistic about this.  Just start again when you can.  The point is, it will benefit us all and those we pray for.  Knowing that we are joining in prayer with other people, who perhaps we know only as commenters on this blog, will be especially meaningful.  So I’m going to do this.  Who’s with me?

Top religious developments of 2010

What do you think were the major developments in the world of religion for 2010?  I think we can do better than the lists from religious journalists that I’ve seen.  Look not only for events but also for trends that came into view in the preceding year but that might have a longer lasting effect.

I’ll go first:

–With the election of Matthew Harrison to the presidency, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod made a U-turn in direction, from a church body that officially wanted to emulate the rest of American Christianity to a church body that other American Christians may want to emulate.  The new president stands on the Lutheran confessional distinctives without being insular, and pushing the denomination in a winsome, compassionate, internationally-engaged direction.

–Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral went bankrupt.  Other positive-thinking, prosperity gospel ministries and believers ran up against the economic collapse.   Does this herald the end of that particular heresy?  Does it herald the decline of the megachurch?

Matt Harrison’s acceptance speech

In case you missed it, here is the newly-elected president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod just after his election.  Note his demeanor, his words, and his spirit.  (If the clip doesn’t show, hit “comments” and it will.)

Revolution in the LCMS

I am thrilled at the election of Matt Harrison as the new president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. As I followed with great difficulty, being overseas, the convention, and saw that the incumbent’s restructuring proposals were passing, I had assumed that his re-election was a sure thing. Instead, Rev. Harrison won and won big.

This is a milestone for the LCMS and world Lutheranism. Rev. Harrison is confessional and conservative, yes. But he is also a gifted and (dare I say) charismatic leader. He is a pastor, a scholar, an author, and a proven administrator of a complex organization. As head of Lutheran World Relief and Human Care, he did a brilliant job bringing help to those in need, from the victims of Hurricane Katrina to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. He has a heart. He upholds Mercy. In answer to questions on that open post, Rev. Harrison has been the pastor of a largely African-American congregation. He started innovative programs to help the people of his community and his neighborhood. He is also well-known and well-respected in global circles and will be a persuasive advocate for confessional teaching in world Lutheranism. I believe he will be unusually effective in his office.

Not only did the convention elect Rev. Harrison, but virtually every other office also went to a confessional candidate. Including ALL of the five vice-presidents! As Mollie Hemingway points out, the new leaders of the LCMS have either been guests on “Issues, Etc.” or could be guests on that radio show that had been cancelled by the previous administration. (The producer, Jeff Schwarz, was even elected as the lay representative to the Council for Theology and Church Relations!) She is calling this synodical turn-around the Issues, Etc. revolution.

I am not saying that these new leaders will be able to solve all of the problems in the Missouri Synod. But they will set a new tone. And they will make a difference. There will be a new norm.” And instead of that being church growth, megachurch, culture-war, American-style evangelicalism, that norm will be distinctively, yet attractively, Lutheran.

Matt Harrison

Blogging LCMS relief work in Haiti

Rev. Matt Harrison, head of Lutheran World Relief & Human Care, is on the ground in Haiti Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison blogging about the work of LCMS pastoral and medical teams.  A sample:

I’ve never been so proud and humbled to be a member of the LCMS. When the LCMS assessment team arrived in Jimani on the southern Dominican/Haiti border, it was late. It was early morning before we got into bed for a very short night of sleep. Rev. Ted Krey, Rev. Walter, and Danelle Putnam greeted us with joy, laboring under the fatigue masked by adrenalin–just enough to sustain for days on end with little or no sleep. The LCMS WM team in the Dominican is incredible in any case, but in the past week they’ve shone with a compassion and determination under the most severe trials. We are at a hospital, which has performed some 500 major surgeries in the past four days, victims helicoptered in from Haiti. Ted Krey and his team have been a force for mercy and the Gospel, with real compassion.

Ted immediately figured out the logistics and delivery necessities of food and water for all patients and their families–1500 of them at distribution time. (That’s finding a need and filling it!). The Civil Defense Corps (a Dominican, mostly voluntary, organization) quickly assembled cooking facilities in the nearby town. Daily, Pastor Krey personally oversees and himself distributes water to everyone at every meal, and personally assists in the distribution of meals to all. Ready, young Haitians bunch behind the truck to disperse the Styrofoam containers of rice, beans, spaghetti, etc. in stacks of five or six. Between meals, Krey and his staff are tending to a hundred issues, questions, pastoral care concerns. In down time, they are speaking with people about Christ and bearing witness graciously through it all, consoling consciences wounded and sorrowful and hurting over mistakes and tensions and failings and weaknesses so prevalent in time of catastrophe. Make no mistake, food and water to victims of this tragedy are a critical, life-and-death issue. The initial mortality rate was high and fell dramatically when the LCMS medical team hit the ground with Pastor Krey at their side, though pastoral tasks have also included the purchase of caskets and transport of the deceased to the morgue and cemetery.

Keep reading.

HT: Paul McCain

Matt Harrison on the earthquake in Haiti

Thousands have died in the Haiti earthquake, maybe as many as half a million. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has done quite a bit of work in Haiti. Here Rev. Matthew Harrison, head of Lutheran World Relief and Human Care reports that a number of pastors and church workers are missing and that at least one Lutheran school and a clinic were destroyed.

For more details and to donate money to help the earthquake victims in Haiti, click here.


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