Miscellaneous prayers, litanies, and blessings

Check back for a new prayer every weekend.
All prayers should be used with printed credit to enfleshed unless otherwise noted.


Come and take flesh

Take flesh in our hands,
that they might cook meals that nourish,
plant seeds that grow life,
create art that inspires,
touch tenderly bodies that ache.
Take flesh in our feet,
that wherever we may find ourselves:
kitchen tables,
altars,
bars,
hospitals,
prisons,
bedrooms,
­sites of conflict,
places of peace,
we will be rooted
in the assurance of
our power and possibilities.
Take flesh in our voice,
that we might
call for the mighty to be torn from their thrones,
speak words of compassion and love,
and whisper "thank you"
to every source of beauty that upholds us.
Take flesh in our gut, in our bones, in our deepest places of knowing
that we might listen
to that which moves us without words,
to the wisdom of feeling,
to that which we have silenced
by the tyranny of reason.
Take flesh in our skin,
our curves,
our wrinkles,
our scars,
in every detail of these bodies,
that we might begin to honor
the holy we wear.
Take flesh in our eyes
that we might weep
tears worthy of
all that has been lost,
all that has been taken,
all that has been betrayed.
Take flesh, O God,
in our beating hearts,
that we might
keep fighting for collective life,
keep believing in divine possibilities,
keep loving despite our trembling,
keep turning towards each other.
Come, O come, Emmanuel.

We need each other

Each time we grasp the hand of another,
God is there, in the flesh entangled.
Queer lovers stroll together, one hand squeezes the other,
"we got each other" as passing eyebrows furrow. 
At the hospital, one hand, soft with skin that is 
loose and free
rests gently in the firm, calloused hand of a son.
I'm sorry. Thank you. I love you.
In his palm, a whole life is held.
When it's little, itty-bitty fingers that
can only almost wrap around an adult pinky finger
that counts too.
The most gentle squeeze
that knows not its own power.
Melting hearts with such an effortless reaching out
like that's an easy thing to do. 
A long string of people with hands clenched tightly
screaming with the most courageous kind of fear.
Traffic is shut down.
Cries for justice just loud enough
to mostly drown out those screaming from their cars.
The police will be here soon.
Heart rates pulse.
Can't tell if it's yours or mine or ours.
Hands holding hands.
A prayer too rare. 
A site of the holy.
Where the reaching out and the receiving,
the grasping and being grasped,
the need to be held and the needing to hold,
all get perfectly mixed up. 
A returning 
to that which is always true 
but so rarely spoken to
in the language of flesh.
We need each other.
We need each other.
We need each other.

Remember the Garden (disrupt consumption)

Remember the garden - the place God birthed us to be co-creators of Life.

The Sacred purpose of labor is cultivating that which nourishes, that which feeds through art and food and beauty and connections between people, creatures, and land.
In the garden, all are able to delight in their own harvests, tasting the fruits of their labor.

When we are coerced into forgetting the roots of our story, we trade feasting for mass consumption. The honest pleasures of our bodies are deemed sources of sin while we glorify that which leaves us empty: status, dominant power, money, objects.


May God help us to disrupt narratives that correlate consumption and worth.

May God give us the strength to break our own cycles of treating purchases like therapy.

May God compel us to fight every system destroying our planet (hardly a garden any longer), and exploiting the labor of people.

May we seek to fill one another's hearts and bellies and minds with that which satisifes, that which sustains, and that which roots us in our created purpose once again.

Hands in soil and clean air in lungs.
Cross-species cohabitation.
Access to the fruits of our labor.
Inherent worth and belovedness.
Creativity as a source of Sacredness.

Collectively, may we choose each other, may we have mercy on the creatures and the land, may we be free to enjoy that which is rich in pleasure and not be deceived by that which will only leave us wanting.

Remember the garden. Plant only the seeds that will grow in the direction of Life.

Let love be messy

Love isn't just one thing;
it's fierce and soft,
intimate and collective,
wild and sincere and deliberate
and just.
Love can be more chaos than order.
Love can be tension.
Love can be conflict.
It's complicated.
It's multifaceted.
Love is hard work and so easy.
Love always leads to Life.
Love is an ever-unfolding thing
we are all still figuring out.
Let love be messy.

When the tears come

When the tears come,
hold out your hands.
Like the last leaves
quivering on empty branches,
finally accepting
the closure of a season,
let them fall
slowly
and softly
onto your palms.
Receive them as an offering.
In praise of your strength.
In honor of your tenderness.
In forgiveness of your regrets.
In acceptance of loss.
You will find God
praying with you.
They'll light a candle for every tear.
They'll place a flower on your hands like an altar.
They'll chant softly to the tune of your weeping.
No words are needed for this kind of worship.
When the heart gets a moment to catch its breath
and pain is released like a long slow exhale
the Sacred draws close
to hear the testimony.
of your grief.

To the Saints

To the Saints:
How do we say thank you?
To you who
dreamed.
fought.
believed.
suffered.
To you who showed us
what incredible things
humans are capable of
under the most
challenging of circumstances.
We kneel to your courage.
We pray to acquire your faith.
We praise God,
the Divine in you.

Are you with us still,
in these days of grief?

Are you companioning us
in this long journey to justice
or
weeping
at the vanity
of it all?

Will you tell us your secrets?
Whispher softly in our direction
about when you wanted to quit,
when you got tired,
when you weren't sure
if any of it mattered
or if it was worth
the costs.

What kept you going?
Was it your own prayers
to the saints
who went before you?
Did you long to make them proud?

Was it seeing God
in your people
yearning to live
free?

Was it us - the future ones,
now enfleshed?

More important than your answers
is simply your assurance that
you asked the same questions
as budding prophets today
and kept living love
anyway.

Prayers of the people

When so much of our world is groaning with injustice and destruction, we are invited to turn to God and one another. We are not meant to carry the struggles of the world alone. And so, in a spirit of collective embrace, may we share together in prayer for all that troubles our hearts.

For all of the bodies in suffering - deprived of resources, withheld from care, or made into targets of violence.

God, hear our prayers.

For all whose spirits are in despair - those who are facing loss or grief, those who are isolated, or those struggling to accept their own worth.

God, hear our prayers.

For all of the ways power is wielded over communities and individuals - for those living under oppressive forces, for the temptation towards complicity with injustice, and for the ways the church sometimes uses you, o God, as a weapon rather than a tool for healing and liberation.

God, hear our prayers.

Just as we are not meant to shoulder the world’s pain alone, we are equally invited to delight with one another in the joy that sustains us.

For the beauty that grows around us.

God, we give you thanks!

For the gifts of shared meals and community and relationships that transform and sustain us.

God, we give you thanks!

For art and music and stories and truths that foster love and connection.

God, we give you thanks!

For every source of courage in the face of all that makes us afraid.

God, we give you thanks!

For your presence within and around us, in our highs and lows, our hope and our despair, God, we give you thanks. Hear our prayers and deepen our willingness to show up with and for one another, sharing in each other’s burdens and working for one another’s protection and care. Amen.

 


An exhortation for survivors & allies

Therefore, my siblings, remain strong. Let nothing move you from resistance. Keep giving yourselves fully to God and know you do not labor in vain. Your stories shared are not in vain. Your solidarity is not in vain. Your proclamation is not in vain. Your protests are not in vain. Your phone calls are not in vain. Your survival is not in vain. Your hope is not in vain. Your care for one another is not in vain. Those in power come and go but the Spirit of Life is eternal. She takes all our offerings shared for Love's sake and multiplies them. Look not to thrones of power for the fruit of your labor. Is a single sister encouraged because you shared your story? Is a single brother committing to deepen his commitment to challenging toxic masculinity? Is a single nonbinary beloved encouraged by your protests in the street? The power of God, the ultimate power-with, makes a mockery of patriarchy, makes queer and transphobia bend low, makes white supremacy kiss the feet of justice, makes every spirit of destruction tremble at the sound of collective voices rising. Tend to your pain but do not let them convince you that your work is in vain. Every act of resistance in the directions of Love and Justice shall bring forth Life. (h/t 1 Corinthians 15:58)


A Halloween blessing

Listen,
God is howling at the moon.
Let the strange come out of hiding.
Let imagination rise from the grave.
Let all who are named
Freak, Monster, Weirdo, or That Which Others Should Fear
recognize the gifts in each other.
When destruction is made normal,
we need all the wild, all the odd, all the unusual we can get. 
Blessed be the tricksters, stirring up trouble when evil desires calm.
Praise God for the prophets who linger with us like ghosts.
Hallelujah to the children, 
Knocking on the hearts of strangers,
Chasing joy from door to door. 
When evil is lurking in broad daylight,
We practice our courage in the night.
Nourish that which has bite,
Unleash the impulse to scream,
Feed the desire to haunt the unjust.
Let us keep trying on possibilities like costumes,
Until we discover the ones 
That will leave evil
Trembling.


A poem on tending in the midst of destruction

last night, before bed, my lover
told me i've started grinding my teeth
while i sleep, and all night i
dreamt my teeth were falling
out of my head, and at 3-something a.m. i awoke with a start
afraid to open my mouth.

last week, when the ceiling started falling
at work, my first thought was: "seems about right."

everything is falling apart.

there's a new word for existential despair
caused by climate change: solastalgia.

everything is falling apart, too fast and too soon.

nayyirah waheed whispers into the whirlwind:
1. rub honey into the night's back.
2. make sure the moon is fed.
3. bathe the ocean.
4. warm sing the trees.
--tend

and who has time for these luxuries?
and who are we to think we can make it, without?

and today i will make giant pot after giant pot
of vegan soup to feed students through the coming weeks
of winter, because for now it still gets bone cold here.

and today i will take a walk under falling leaves
with my lover's hand tucked in mine

because the ceiling is falling
and the world is burning
and i awoke convinced that only a walk together outside
will save us from erasure.

and flint still doesn't have clean water.
and hundreds of children are still separated from their parents.
and a majority of white women still side with predatory misogyny and white supremacy.
and black people are still being executed by the state.
and trans people are still told we don't or shouldn't exist.
and clergy colleagues are still pretending that there's middle ground with bigotry and hatred, and hear this, revs: i don't need you to "listen to my story," i need you to resist, and share the risk, ok? value people over rules, justice over popularity, ok? because until you do the church you're trying to save isn't worth it, ok? and there are more urgent losses right now, and crises, ok? and the word ally is meaningless if you're not doing the work, ok?

and the only thing i know
is to tend to the small, the slow, the simple:
this head of garlic
this pungent ginger root
this pile of black beans
this butternut squash

tend tend tend tend tend

this afternoon's walk
this evening's work

tend

this life, so gorgeous and holy and horrible, and over all too soon

- Rev. Anna Blaedel
Theologian in Residence
enfleshed


Beware of false prophets

Beware of false prophets. Watch for wolves draped in sheep’s clothing. They wear religious garb and make pronouncements from their positions on high. They speak patronizingly of love, of learning to get along, of overcoming our differences while turning their eyes and minds from imbalances of power. They throw the sheep in their care into the same pens as the wolves of white supremacy the wolves of heterosexism the wolves of misogyny the wolves of transphobia the wolves of capitalism. They chide from afar, “Get along now. It’s the Christian way!” Their message sounds sweet but will turn the stomach sour. It nourishes only for a moment, no nutrients for the roots. You will know those who preach good news by their fruits. By their words, have the oppressed been set free? Have their teachings resulted in actions of justice? Do their ways lead to a world turned on its head, the lowly lifted up and the powerful brought low? Take heed: there are some who preach love but the love is shallow. It keeps them secure. It keeps things comfortable. It shifts things only enough to meet the present version of "culturally acceptable." It keeps oppressed and oppressor in their present roles, but gives the illusion of sacred pursuit. The love of God is just - it disrupts and transforms oppressive power for the benefit of all. The justice of God is loving - it heals and frees and makes new for the benefit of all. Beware of false prophets. They will tell you of green pastures, But lead you to barren lands. -enfleshed, inspired by Matthew 7:15-20.


Blessed are

blessed are you who are raging.
blessed are you who are mourning.
blessed are you who feel numb.
blessed are you who feel sick. and tired. and sick and tired.
blessed are you who refuse to turn away.
blessed are you who need to turn away.
blessed are you who keep breathing deep.
blessed are you who are tending to your own needs.
blessed are you who are tending to the needs of another.
blessed are you who have been calling.
blessed are you who have been organizing.
blessed are you who have been testifying.
blessed are you who have been hearing.
blessed are you who have been resisting.
blessed are you who feel broken open beyond repair.
blessed are you who are raw beyond words.
blessed are you who are working hotlines and crisis care centers and bearing witness to the forces of violence and trauma unleashed and unloosed.
blessed are you who are marching.
blessed are you who are weeping.
blessed are you who preach and know that divinity resides in despised, abused, violated flesh.
blessed are you who know deep in your bones that you are good. and beautiful. and beloved. and sacred. and worthy. and believed. and held. and capable of healing beyond your wildest imagination.
blessed are you who remind others they are good. and beautiful. and beloved. and sacred. and worthy. and believed. and held. and capable of healing beyond their wildest imagination.
blessed are we when we dare to dream of a world without sexual violence, without white supremacy, without misogyny, without police brutality, without anti-trans and anti-queer violence.
blessed are we when we stay tender.
blessed are we when we stay fierce.
blessed are we when we dare to imagine repair, and transformation.
blessed are we when we labor together to make it so.

- Rev. Anna Blaedel 
Theologian In Residence at enfleshed


Praise be to the God of multiplicity

God our Mother,
you bear for us new possibilities. 
God our Lover,
we crave you.
You seduce us into hope,
you lure us onto paths of justice.
God our Friend,
in you, we find companionship.
You sustain us when we are weary,
you embolden us in our gifts,
you delight us with your wonder.


The body of God is soft

The body of God is soft.
She delights in her tummy rolls.
She takes pride in the strength of her thighs.
She rejoices in every curve. 
She hides none of her body in shame. Every inch is beloved.
Your body is a site of the Divine.
In and through your body, you-enfleshed, we all come to know God.
Your body is blessed.
May you nourish it:
with love
with acceptance
with pride
with pleasure.
When you, when your flesh, is targeted with destructive lies, may you hear the voice of God whispering to it tenderly,
"you are perfect as you are. you are beautiful. you are beloved. those who speak violence are afraid to love themselves. be brave. love you. love the glory of your form. there is no one right way to have a body."
If you love God, open yourself to the hard but healing work of loving your body. You will find God there. Love one another's bodies. Love all bodies. We cannot know God without bodies. 
Thanks be for the flesh that reveals beauty, truth, and love.


God in unexpected places

God, you have filled our lives with abundant manifestations of your creative hand. You gift us with diverse bodies and experiences and stories and dreams that all work together to help us better understand you and all of creation. Forgive us, O God, when we reject you by rejecting the belovedness of our neighbors. Give us the courage to recognize you anew in people, places, and ideas unexpected. Amen.


Show up for each other

God, help us to recognize your aching heart, your weary soul, and your suffering body in the lives of those around us who are attacked, dismissed, criminalized, or patronized. As we offer our resources and the service of our lives to you, guide us in the work of showing up with and for all your people. Amen.


Keep working on us

Nurturing One, in all our places of doubt and shame, you dwell within us, whispering to us words of love. Wherever there are forces in us working to distract from your love for us or our neighbors, you are there, passionately pursuing a change of our hearts. Do not give up on us, O God! Until we are able to honor the Sacredness of all you have created, keep working on us. In Christ, our teacher and example, we pray. Amen.


A prayer for the needs of each one

May the weary find a soft place to rest.
May the searching be met by the Sacred.
May the caravanning be encouraged, be fed, be clothed, be received.
May the righteous see the fruits of their labor.
May the lonely find comfort in the night.
May the privileged take extravagant actions of solidarity.
May the complicit repent.
May the apathetic come to recognize the hardness of their hearts.
May the courageous have multitudes behind them.
May the creative write, paint, sing, and dance the truths we all need to feel.
May the fearful keep showing up, keep wrestling, keep taking steps.
May the unjust powerful step-down or be torn down.
May the mourning not be rushed to heal.
May the caretakers have their cups refilled.
May the Holy One within each of us rise, rise, rise.


God in the trees

In the trees, God, you linger.
With branches like arms outstretched in prayer, they invite, they host, they bear witness, they create.
Generations come and go,
but still they remain with such knowing, such history, such wisdom in their flesh.
The Holy in them, as it often does,
requires a disruption of ordinary ways of perceiving,
or else it goes unnoticed.
Through their testimonies, O God,
you teach us about growing in every direction,
about becoming sources of home,
about resilience and resurrection and beauty across stages of life.
You - the trees - both sources of our life-breath.
Make us fierce protectors of these sage companions
and the sacred flesh of all the earth. amen.


Within

God,
You dwell in the core of our being.
In those places where our deepest pain and our greatest potential comingle,
you are there.
You whisper softly in the places we are most afraid,
gently calling forth our power.
Though voices old and new speak words of dominance,
attempting to build walls around our own possibility of becoming,
there is a strength that cannot be taken away from us.
No matter the lies, no matter the laws, no matter what has been done.
From our depths, you rise in us
with words of truth begging to be spoken to power
with fierce love ready to transform
with collective rage with the potential to set free
with hope 
that together we can be healers.
Rise up, O God, in the flesh of angry women.
Rise up, O God, from within every nonbinary beloved.
Rise up, O God, and ignite the passion of men to tear down the thrones of the cishet white supremacist patriarchy. 
Let us settle no longer 
for that which makes us too small,
for that which silences,
for that which destroys,
for that which wishes for us to believe
there is no other way.


Wild God

Wild One,
holy agitator,
you desire to rouse us.
Your Spirit moves like an unexpected wind,
stirring everything up -
you show no concern for etiquette.
Once or twice a year, we delight in this part of you.
But most of the time, we do our best
to tame you
to cage you
to confine you
to our obsessions with order, with rules, with systems, with traditions, and mostly with control.
Those in power fear what a God that isn't institutionalized might take away from them.
If the wild in you brings out the wild in us
chains could break,
towers could topple,
table manners might be exchanged for table flipping.
We were not meant for so much concrete, for so many walls, for such little room to grow.
Forgive us, O God, for every creature and creation torn down by the altar of "civilized."
In the name of every life lost, every soul that has to shrink, every one of us feeling the weight of surveillance culture on our backs,
eyes of observance monitoring at all times,
we pray for the courage to set ourselves free.
Make us wild in dreaming, wild with hunger for liberation, wild with love.
Amen.


In all our states

God of sleeping and waking,
in every state of our being,
be near.

In our dreams, invite us into your creative vision of what could be: of who we could become and what we could create together. Nourish our imagination with glimpses of justice that is full and healing that is rich.

In our waking up, may we do so with acceptance of the day that closed and embrace of the day that is opening. May your lovingkindness guide us in both accountability to our friends, neighbors, and beloveds and in grace that keeps us from being weighed down by that which we can no longer control.

When we long to sleep but find ourselves awake in the middle of the night, wrestling with the world, our past, our future, or anxieties that don't yet have names, may your Spirit of Peace be embrace us.

When we struggle to stay awake - bone tired, soul heavy - longing for relief that is too far off, uphold us.

As we move through these cycles of rest and labor, when they are balanced just right and when they are all out of whack, be the constant source that guides our life in peace, courage, and assurance of your love for us.

Amen.


Bearing life 

Mother of us all,
give us a glimpse of your hopes for us.
You, in perpetual labor,
constantly pushing,
seeking to bear new life
in us,
despite us,
among us.
You carry us in your depths.
You nurture us by your own body.
You groan through the pain
of birthing
new possibilities
without promise of what they will become.
Help us to see the potential
that keeps you pushing,
day after day.
What keeps you so hopeful about us,
that you choose not to stop
even when we deny
where we come from,
in what image we are made,
or the capabilities we possess?
Do you pray for us, as you push?
"One day
maybe today
it could be today
make it be today
they will live into
these possibilities
for new life to thrive."
Thanks be, Mothering One,
for your strength,
your hope,
your everlasting love.
Amen.


The rhythms of God 

Spirit of Creation,
you move in and through us like breath.
When our circumstances feel suffocating, you draw us back into the rhythms of Life that were before us and will be beyond us.

Rhythms that are slow.
Rhythms that accept times of death and times of re-birth.
Rhythms that persevere but don't force.
Rhythms that embrace change.

Rhythms that encourage every indivudal in the direction of the whole's well-being.
Together, every creature and creation, yearning for life:

Every blade of growing grass breaking through soil, reaching for the light of the sun.

Every mother bear watching over her cubs day and night, protecting vulnerable life.

Every saint refusing to compromise on the dignity of your people, enfleshing radical love.

When our schedules and our machines and our media and our words make us forget that we are creatures among creation, vulnerable flesh, beloved parts of a whole,

may we find you again in our inhales and our exhales, pacing our breath with the spirit of life that has always been pulsing through creation, connecting everything that is across millenia.

In our striving for life, we are not the first and we will not be the last.
May our beating hearts and every rise and fall of our lungs remind us we are never alone - not for a single breath.
Amen.


Let us rest

God of Sabbath,
God of rest,
God who wandered off into the wilderness when everything became too much,
help us listen to the needs
of our bodies,
of our souls,
of our dreams,
of the communities we belong to.

You did not create us in the image of machines, in the image of production, in the image of never-stop.

You created us in the image of freedom, of beauty, of love, of compassion, of potential for deep and intimate relationship.

May we question all that would have us trade in the potential of our becoming for the ability to make more, sell more, buy more, or be more.

May we challenge all the structures organizing our lives to pit survival against creativity, invidual against collective, private against public, working to meet basic needs against the ability to live abundantly in relationship and rest.

May we commit to boundaries. To breaks. To disrupting patterns of productivty-at-all-costs.

May we embrace what you have told us - before we were born, you delighted in us. Our value, our belovedness, our worth cannot be subtracted by doing less or added to by achieving more.

Give us the courage to believe it, the will to practice it, and the faith to overcome every system that keeps others from the ability to do so as well.
Amen.