Saturday, March 28, 2009

A much-needed prayer

This litany was written by the Rev'd Joseph A. Harmon, an African American priest in New Jersey.

For more than a generation, people in THIS diocese have been carefully tutored in heterosexism and homophobia has been nurtured by people who call themselves spiritual leaders. Such teaching has terrible consequences for our LGBT sisters and brothers in Christ.

But it also has terrible consequences for those who teach such things, for it is a violation of our Baptismal Covenant. It causes parish leaders to cater to the homophobia of those who threaten to leave if all God's people are invited to God's Table. Worse, it tempts people into thinking they have the power to decide who is within the circle of God's love and who is not.

If ever there was a prayer needed in this diocese, this is it.
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A Litany for Healing Homophobia

Celebrant:

Sometimes it is too easy for us to forget the oppression that we create when we fail to recognize those who may be different from us as our sisters and brothers. Today, let us pray that each of us individually, our church, our community and our world, may be healed of homophobia's oppression so that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people may live with dignity and respect, in safety and wholeness. May we remember and not forget God's call to reconciliation.

Leader: O God, when we pray, help us to remember. Help us to remember those we would rather not remember, those we would rather not see, those we would rather not love, and those we would rather not accept.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That you created us in your image and that all that you created is good.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That you call us to be sisters and brothers of Christ and of one another.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That we have not readily welcomed all our sisters and brothers, especially those who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: When we hear our Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender sisters and brothers called foul names that we should speak up to stop such abuse.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: When we hear of people brutalized and murdered because others perceive them to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender that they are children of God, worthy of dignity and respect.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That there are still countries around the globe where Gay and Lesbian people receive the death penalty just for being Gay and Lesbian.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That millions of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people are still closeted within faith communities that do not treat them with value, respect and acceptance.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That every year, Lesbian and Gay-friendly churches are still targets of vandalism and hate crimes based on homophobia.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That homophobia contributes to higher rates of suicide in Lesbian and Gay teens, higher rates of Lesbian and Gay homelessness, lower wages for Lesbians, and employment and housing difficulties for Lesbian and Gay people.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That homophobia distorts the spiritual message of God's love for all people.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That we can do something to end homophobia by opening our hearts and minds to see Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people as our sisters and brothers.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That we can participate in healing our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities and churches of homophobia by creating a space where Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people may find safety, respect and acceptance.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: And now, aloud or silently in our hearts, let us name our own needs and concerns and those needs and concerns, those individuals and groups, who have asked our prayers (the congregation is encouraged to speak their prayers and intentions at this time).

Celebrant:
Gracious and loving God, who hates nothing that you create and desires that all should come to know your love: help us to remember the things that we have heard this day, the things that your Holy Spirit teaches us, and those things that we know to be right and just.

Make us ambassadors of your reconciling goodness as we work to heal the oppression of homophobia and the scars it has inflicted upon so many individuals and families, institutions and communities.

Empower us to reach out in love to all people, including our sisters and brothers that are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. We ask this through Jesus the Christ, who himself was despised and rejected and by whose wounds we are healed.

AMEN.

Copyright © 2009 by the Rev'd Joseph A. Harmon,
Pastor, Church of the Incarnation, Jersey City, NJ.
Permission freely granted for liturgical use, with attribution. [And permission was granted for use on this blog.]