Litany for the Midwives
From the Author:This litany was written upon a reading and meditation of the story in Exodus 1 of Shiphrah and Puah, the two Hebrew midwives who thwarted the pharaoh’s plans to kill all the boy babies of the enslaved Hebrew nation. It’s an exciting tale of how two valiant midwives changed the course of their people’s history by means of creative, non-violent civil disobedience. In justice work today, we are invited into the spirit of these women, who subversively resisted a domineering and unjust power structure.
God, You have saved us by many creative means
Over the years of humanity’s existence.
You’ve saved your people by means of trumpets and shouts,
by means of manna from heaven,
by means of water from rocks,
by means of the miraculous and the mundane.
And you’ve saved your people by means of valiant midwives –
Those women entrusted to usher the future into the world
In the midst of pain and travail,
With wisdom, experience, and alertness.
May we all be like the midwives,
Working in quiet devotion
Or in subversive creativity —
Those who care for those who carry,
Those who comfort and calm,
Those who shift breaches and unblock exits,
Those who urge us to PUSH when the time is right,
Those who know when to wait and when to cut,
Those who catch slippery bundles of goodness as they emerge,
Those who bind up wounds of effort.
May we have the vision of the midwives
Who could imagine a future beyond what they could see,
And were willing to risk their lives and reputations
To give it a chance to arrive.
We thank you for the Midwives,
For those who are as shrewd as serpents,
As innocent as doves,
Protecting the future as it is born.
Praise for Worship as Call and Response
“Call and Response is resplendent with litanies that are beautifully poetic, transforming to the heart and artistically crafted in powerful and sacred words. I have participated in liturgical worship for several years and without a doubt liturgy and litany have graced my life. When I couldn’t cry, the liturgy, the litany cried for me. When I was at a loss to find words for my grief and heartbreak, the liturgy, the litany voiced, chanted and quietly whispered to my quiet heart and soul. In Fran’s creation of Litanies I feel and sense the voice and grace of our Lord for the hard times and good times of our lives.”
“You can tell that this book was meticulously and carefully put together by author Fran Pratt. The litanies in this book are written with a deep sense of empathy paired with conviction. Whatever your theology is, or religion you identify with, you’ll find that this book brings with it a sense of comfort, inspiration and challenging perspectives.”
“This book is chock full of litanies for every occasion and especially helpful because of its attention to current events and tragedies. I grew up Catholic, cherishing congregational litanies in every mass. Now as a clergy person in the protestant tradition, I have spent a lot of time seeking out responsive readings that work for my church context—litanies that are thoughtful, theologically rich and applicable to today’s context. I have searched high and low over the years with little luck, until now. Whether alone or in a church setting, these litanies have given me words to pray when I can’t seem to garner the words myself. They continue to help me make sense of my faith. I am grateful.”
About the Author
Fran Pratt is Pastor of Worship and Liturgy at Peace of Christ Church in Round Rock TX, where she lives with her spouse and two daughters. She posts weekly Litanies at franpratt.com.