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This Is Not a Litany

Leader: This is not a litany.

People: This is a responsive reading.

Leader: A litany is an ancient prayer form in which the leader voices a petition and the people repeat a set response such as “Lord, have mercy.”

People: Or “Hear our prayer.”

Leader: A responsive reading is more of a creed. It’s a collection of sentences which, while probably true and praiseworthy, aren’t really talking to God.

People: We’re talking to each other, O Lord, about things we believe or affirm.

Leader: Therefore, responsive readings tend to be more didactic.

People: Cerebral.

Leader: I mean, look at all these words, for crying out loud!

People: Simplify, simplify.

Leader: Instead of engaging the mind, all this verbiage might even foster laziness or mindless conformity.

People: Baaa!

Leader: Exactly.

People: But why in the world would you want to begin worship with a mental exercise? Why not begin with adoration, confession, or thanksgiving?

Leader: And since they change every week, you can’t even participate without a printed order of service.

People: But what about preschoolers, or foreigners, or the blind?

Leader: It might be better to begin with something that everyone could learn through frequent repetition.

People: Something less disposable.

Leader: Something the church has treasured for centuries. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel every week, you know.

People: Sometimes it’s a greater act of faith to trust the wisdom of the past.

All: Amen.


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