last night, i participated (along with a few friends) in what was dubbed a “common prayer party”. in essence, it was a book release party (which corresponded with hundreds across the country) for a new book of common prayer compiled by shane claiborne, jonathan wilson-hartgrove and enuma okoro, called common prayer: a liturgy for ordinary radicals. the night, organized by my friend kim, was a reading of a handful of the prayers as well as an opportunity to participate in prayer stations engaging us in the season of advent.
it was a good opportunity to begin this season with a time of quiet and reflection and communal prayer. throughout the night, we had an opportunity to check out the book. it’s a great collection (that i highly recommend for churches) and one particular prayer caught my attention as i skimmed through it.
in the back of the book is a collection of prayers for special occasions (as opposed to daily prayers which comprise the majority of the book). the prayers ranged from celebration of adoption to death of a person in the community to a blessing for your home. the one that stood out to me, though, was a litany to honor women.
i feel particularly strongly about the role of women in the church. in short, i don’t see men and women any differently. women have the same value and function as men—just as the bible prescribes. certainly, i think men and women tend to bring different dynamics to a faith community, but one is no greater or lesser than the other. [if you’d like to read a great series on women in the church, my friend sarah wrote a blog series about it.]
being that women often tend to be pushed aside in the church, i was glad to come across this litany that uplifts and celebrates women. i thought i would share it here.
a litany to honor women
we walk in the company of the women who have gone before, mothers of the faith both named and unnamed,
testifying with ferocity and faith to the spirit of wisdom and healing.
they are the judges, the prophets, the martyrs, the warriors, poets, lovers and saints who are near to us in the shadow of awareness, in the crevices of memory, in the landscape of our dreams.
we walk in the company of deborah,
who judged the israelites with authority and strength.
we walk in the company of esther,
who used here position as queen to ensure the welfare of her people.
we walk in the company of your whose names have been lost and silenced,
who kept and cradled the wisdom of the ages.
we walk in the company of the woman with the flow of blood,
who audaciously sought her healing and release.
we walk in the company of mary magdalene,
who wept at the empty tomb until the risen christ appeared.
we walk in the company of phoebe,
who led an early church in the empire of rome.
we walk in the company of perpetua of carthage,
who witness in the third century led to her martyrdom.
we walk in the company of st. christian the astonishing,
who resisted death with persistence and wonder.
we walk in the company of julian of norwich,
who wed imagination and theology, proclaiming “all shall be well”.
we walk in the company of sojourner truth,
who stood against oppression, righteously declaring in 1852, “ain’t i a woman!”
we walk in the company of the argentine mothers of the plaza de mayo,
who turned their grief to strength, standing together to remember “the disappeared” children of war with a holy indignation.
we walk in the company of alice walker,
who named the lavender hue of womanly strength.
we walk in the company of you mothers of the faith,
who teach us to resist evil with boldness, to lead with wisdom, and to heal.