Holy Week Prayers and Litanies

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Through the darkness

Gentle Shepherd,
through this valley of the shadow of death
you are with me.
The rod of your presence, the staff of your love,
they comfort me.
You have sought out my pain,
and come to be with me in my struggle.
In this darkness, where I am hurting and alone,
you are hurting with me, alone with me.
It is my pain you are nailed to,
my unknowing that leads you,
my blood that flows from your wounded side.
For this unspeakable miracle,
that you bear my pain with such love,
I thank you.
Even in my suffering I am in the paradise of you.
Beloved, whom I trust,
lead me through this darkness
to the dawn.

Show us the way

Gentle and faithful God,
we are lost, wandering and hungry.
In our fear and self-centeredness we are in the dark.
In the pain we bear and the pain we inflict we are broken.
In our despair and distrust we are as good as dead.
Yet you are with us; you claim us;
your bear our cross, and make it your own.
Your presence radiates in us, and gives us light.
Heal our trembling hearts, transform our will,
lift up our spirits, and and give us hope.
Crucified One, walk with us,
show us the way, and lead us toward life.

Make gentle our hearts

Tender God, we give thanks
that even in our sin we are your Beloved.
You welcome our shamed and violent hearts.
You heal our broken spirits.
You forgive the suffering we cause.
Make gentle our hearts in trust
that the pain we have cast onto others,
that has hurt you the deepest,
still fails to separate us from you,
but is swallowed up in your love.
Gentle God, you who suffer all violence and yet forgive,
Christ, you who are crucified
in all who are wounded, silenced or shamed,
fill our hearts with your mercy,
with gratitude for your grace,
with passion for your justice,
and with love for our neighbors,
in the name and the courage of Christ.

At your table

Gentle Christ,
you invite us to feast with you,
to celebrate the Passover of death,
our liberation to new life.
We feast on your grace.
Knowing our guilt, you invite us.
Bearing our judgment, you share with us.
Suffering our wounds, you rejoice with us.
You hold us worthy, and you honor us.
You feed us, wash us, and teach us to pray,
and you pray for us when we are too weak.
We thank you. In deepest reverence
we receive you, take you into ourselves,
and become your Body.
For this Mystery we thank you
and ask your blessing,
that we may die with you and rise with you
by the grace of the Holy Spirit
and the infinite love of God.

At the cross

we are silenced by your suffering.
You bear our pain
and even our thanks finds no words.
But we confess: it is pain we ourselves have caused.
It is our lynchings, our crucifixions you endure.
It oppression and injustice we have aided
that bears you away.
And yet you forgive.
In you we behold both our sin and our salvation.
Break our hearts, Loving One,
break our pride and fear,
and let your deep compassion seep in,
that we may end our violent ways,
that we may not judge or dismiss another.
Open our eyes to the Golgathas we live with.
Make us, by your suffering grace, compassionate people,
who hunger and thirst for justice and mercy.

In the garden

Oh, dear Beloved,
how can I bury you?
To let you into the ground
is to let the pain into my heart.
I bury you in myself.
always here, in love.
And I release you,
accepting my loss, willing
to find wholeness in woundedness.
The garden, echo of Eden,
place of beauty and rest,
hides such sorrow.
Give me the honesty to weep,
the patience to wait,
the faith to know I am beloved
even when I am broken.
Give me the trust to know
you are not done yet.
Always, there is more. Always.
In your silence, I wait.

The veneration of the cross

[Ideally for two readers plus congregation:
Reader 1 in plain type; Reader 2 in italics; Congregation in bold]

On the cross of Christ—behold our suffering.
        Jesus occupies our brokenness, knows our powerlessness, bears our wounds.
Even in our deepest pain God is with us.
        Behold the life-giving cross,
        on which was hung the salvation of the world.

On the cross of Christ —behold our fear.
        In self-centered anxiety we cast our wounds onto others.
Even in our terror, God is with us.
        Behold the life-giving cross,
        on which was hung the salvation of the world.

On the cross of Christ—behold our sin.
        Jesus suffers our violence and injustice, but forgives.
Even in our sin God is with us.
        Behold the life-giving cross,
        on which was hung the salvation of the world.

On the cross of Christ—behold our death.
        Though we fear it, death does not separate us from God.
Even in our dying God is with us.
        Behold the life-giving cross,
        on which was hung the salvation of the world.

On the cross of Christ—behold our salvation.
        Jesus suffered all we fear separates us from you,
        but not even sin and death can separate us from your love.
The God of love is with us and for us.
        Behold the life-giving cross,
        on which was hung the salvation of the world.


Prayer for Christ Imprisoned

Sovereign of the universe,
you dared to come to us in humble form,
in a prisoner, condemned and despised;
and still you come to us so,
and still we despise and condemn you.

We ask for your mercy and forgiveness.
Heal our hearts, and change our ways.

In the name of Christ we pray for all prisoners,
and those who guard them.

We pray especially for political prisoners
victims of government-sponsored violence,
and all who live in fear of coercion.

We pray for those who carry such fear
that they are willing to cause others to suffer.

Give us the heart of Christ,
the will to not cooperate with violence and evil,
but to resist it with our lives,
with courage and nonviolence,
with mercy, gentleness,
forbearance and forgiveness,
so that in our suffering,
in our resistance and in our faithfulness,
and in your invincible life-restoring grace,
we will know resurrection.


         The passion of Christ

Eternal God, our gentle servant,
in the silence you cry for justice.
We listen for your voice.

Loving Christ, Crucified One,
you appear in the suffering of the world.
Give us hearts of compassion.

You come to us in love
in the poor and the powerless, the crucified.
We love you only as we love them.

Your body is broken for us,
the earth, wounded for our appetites.
We repent of our greed.

Your blood is poured out for us,
our kin exploited for our ease.
Give us hearts of reverence and humility.

We were once slaves in Egypt:
undocumented immigrants, unaccompanied children.
Set us free from our cold heartedness and fear.

Scorned and rejected, O Christ,
imprisoned and condemned,
help us do to others as we wish for ourselves.

Unseen One, you who have suffered for our sins,
all those we do not see, who suffer for our sins,
forgive us, redeem us, and by your grace
grant that we may make this
a more just and gentle world. Amen.

Last Supper – A meditation

Beloved, in the face of evil you set a table of grace.

In the midst of death you feed us life.

In the face of injustice you practice generosity.

In our self-absorption you draw us into community.

In our fear you fearlessly love us.

In the face of oppression you initiate liberation.

We flee to save ourselves, but you give us yourself.

In our clinging to our lives you give us yours.

Knowing our unworthiness, you honor us.

Knowing our betrayal, you entrust yourself to us.

Suffering our hard-heartedness you forgive us.

Knowing our brokenness, you enter it.

To the sorrow still to come upon us, you grant peace.

When we think you are dead, you come to us.

Feasting on you, we become you.

Broken as bread, we die with you.

Life poured into us like richest wine, we rise.

Your heart beating in us, we go into this dark world
with joy and gratitude, with love and courage,
with wonder and hope, your name on our lips.


Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Grant us your peace.
Loving Christ, on the cross you emptied yourself;
may we follow in humility, self-emptying and trust.
Lord, have mercy.
In tender love you entered into the suffering of the world;
may we take up our cross and follow, vulnerable for the sake of love.
Christ, have mercy.
You bore our sin and violence and showed us only love;
fill us with your love.
Lord, have mercy.
You received our sin without judgment, and forgave us entirely;
we confess our sin, and pray that we may be forgiving of all people.
Christ, have mercy.
You exposed the evil of our systems and powers,
and the forces of injustice we participate in;
help us resist evil and injustice.
Lord, have mercy.
You bore our pain and shame,
for there is nothing that separates us from God;
open our hearts to God’s presence with us in our pain.
Christ, have mercy.
You shared the bonds of our mortality,
yet trusted in life that is eternal; grant us trust in eternal life.
Lord, have mercy.
You showed us that whatever we do
to the least of these, our sisters and brothers,
we do to you; open our heart to all who suffer.
Christ, have mercy.
You show us the power of nonviolent resistance, f
or your actions have changed the world;
may your Spirit live and work in us.
Lord, have mercy.
You enter the darkest parts of our souls,
and shine with the light of love;
fill our hearts with the mystery of your love.
Christ, have mercy.
We thank you. We praise
Lord, have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy, and grant us your peace. Amen.

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