A 500th Anniversary Reformation Litany (Adapted from the writings of Lutheran reformers)
Note: 31 October 2017 marks 500 years since the monk and priest Martin Luther nailed a series of statements calling for reform in the Catholic church to the door of the city church in Wittenberg, Germany. This action unwittingly set off the German Reformation, the splintering of catholic unity in western Europe, and the development of dozens of different Christian denominations over the next decades and centuries. On this day, we celebrate God’s gift of Christian freedom that allows all Christians to believe and practice their faith according to their consciences. We also pray fervently for God’s continued re-formation of the Church, so that, even in our diversity, we might better reflect the unity of Christ and so that, even in our disagreement, we might better represent God’s kingdom of love and justice on earth.
P: Through all times and places, God’s grace has been at work, building up the faith of God’s people and inspiring good works in the name of Jesus Christ. Christ’s church stands as an imperfect testament to God’s love as we work for justice and peace in all the earth. The Word of God has resounded through the ages, proclaiming Jesus Christ as the center of the universe and the hinge of history.
C: We celebrate the Reformation which continues even today.
P: For Christ has redeemed us, even though we were lost. He has freed us from all sins, from death, and from the power of evil, not with gold or silver but with his precious blood and innocent death. (adapted from Martin Luther, 1528)
C: We give thanks for the gift of grace.
P: God of forgiveness and second chances, your patience and love for us never end, even as we fail again and again to live as your children. Remind us of your faithfulness as we engage with the unglamorous, long-term recovery efforts in places that have experienced natural disasters: hurricanes in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, United States; an earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico; wildfires in Portugal, Spain, and the United States; and severe flooding in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Teach us compassion as we face new needs in the wake of Typhoon Lan and its destruction in Shizuoka, Japan. Reform us and renew us as we respond in gratitude to your gift of grace by sharing that grace with others.
P: Faith is a sincere confidence in the grace of God, promised to us in Christ, kindled in the heart by the Holy Spirit. (adapted from Johann Arndt, 1605)
C: We give thanks for the gift of faith.
P: God of truth, your steadfast love endures forever, even as our faith in you wavers and falters. We make decisions based on fear, and we trust in our own abilities rather than in your will for us: this week, Australia has rejected a groundbreaking clean energy proposal in favor of a plan that will lower costs and secure the energy grid, and the Czech Republic has elected a new leader with an anti-refugee stance, joining many nations around the world that are turning their focus inward in response to social and financial anxieties. Reform us and renew us as we seek to live as people whose faith and trust rest not in human power, but in the power of your love.
P: We must be saved only and alone through faith; our works are a fruit of faith and are connected with the gratitude we owe to God. (adapted from Philipp Spener, 1675)
C: We give thanks for the gift of good works.
P: God of empowerment, despite our failings, you bless us with opportunities to be your hands and feet in the world. You transform our selfish and sinful natures and give us capacity for compassion and love. Forestry groups in Iceland fight to restore trees that will reduce soil erosion and combat climate change. Nicaragua has signed the Paris climate agreement, leaving only two countries that do not support this international effort to protect our environment. Raqqa, Syria, long held as the headquarters of the radical ISIS militant group, has been mostly liberated, though fighting and dangerous conditions will continue for some time. Reform us and renew us with boldness to serve you with all that we have and all that we are.
P: The church is truly the church only when it exists for others. (adapted from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1944)
C: We give thanks for the gift of the church.
P: God of all creation, you have raised up the church so that the world might be blessed though us, but we often feel overwhelmed by the suffering that we see around us. Political conflicts in Venezuela and Spain continue to hurt the vulnerable. The death toll rises in the aftermath of a truck bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia. Remind us that we are not alone in facing these problems. Reform us and renew us with the presence of your Holy Spirit, so that your church might be a symbol of hope in a suffering world.
P: Our identity is in Jesus Christ and nobody else. (adapted from Elizabeth Eaton, 2014)
C: We give thanks for the gift of Jesus Christ.
P: God of mercy and grace, we commit our lives to your living Word, Jesus Christ. Help us, your church universal, to grow in faith and love, so that we might always live in trust and hope. Make us bold to share your good news with the world as members of Christ’s church, and make us humble to acknowledge our own role in dividing the body of Christ. Fill us with wisdom to find our common ground in Christ, and give us patience to face disagreement with grace and embrace diversity with gratitude. Guide our lives, forgive our sins, inspire our thoughts, shape our attitudes, and fill us with hope and joy, assuring us of your constant presence in all times and all places.