AS the Church of England is in the process of sharing its Living in Love and Faith (LLF) resources on identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage, I offer these prayers for everyone involved, and those who feel unable to be involved.
As the Co-ordinator of the Open Table Network, a partnership of Christian worship communities from different traditions which affirm and empower LGBTQIA+ Christians, I have been appointed as an Advocate for the LLF process, in the Church of England Diocese of Liverpool.
There is at least one LLF Advocate in each diocese, more than one in many dioceses. Their role is defined by the LLF ‘Next Steps Group’ as ‘to encourage as much participation as possible in their diocese’. Many of these Advocates are senior clergy (Bishops, Archdeacons). Most are ordained – I am among the minority who are not.
It’s unclear how many of the Advocates are LGBT+ or affirming. However, I am encouraged that I, and at least two others connected with the Open Table Network, have been appointed to help, inform and guide the process locally and nationally.
The Diocese of Liverpool, where the first Open Table community began in 2008, has also commissioned Chaplains to pray for and support those who are facilitating conversations locally, and those who are taking part in them.
I wrote the following prayers for the service of commissioning for these LLF Chaplains, which took place online on Thursday 11th March 2021, led by Bishop of Warrington Beverley Mason, who is a member of the LLF Next Steps group. The prayers draw on Biblical language about God and Jesus as the source of life, love and faith.
The text of these prayers is below. If you prefer, you can listen to me read these prayers, accompanied by some gentle music and beautiful images, in this short video [3.5 mins]. Please feel free to use and share these prayers if you find them helpful:
Life-Giving God, in You we live and move and have our being.
We thank You that You made each one of us unique in Your own image, as Your beloved child.
Help us to glorify You, by living more fully in that knowledge – for ourselves, for those You entrust to our care, and those with whom we struggle to live in harmony.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, who came to live among us so we might live more abundantly.
Loving God, whoever loves has been born of You and knows You.
We thank You for the times we have experienced or glimpsed Your infinite, unconditional, intimate love.
We trust that You love us for all that we are, and all that we can be, through the grace of the Spirit and the example of Jesus.
May we listen with love to those You entrust to our care, and those whom we struggle to love.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, who teaches us to love You with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbours as ourselves.
Faithful God, You keep Your covenant with those who love You and keep Your commandments.
We recall with gratitude the promises you have made to Your people, from the everlasting covenant revealed to Noah in the rainbow, to the new covenant of Jesus calling us all to be one in his body.
May we trust that the Christian faith we share is bigger than the limits of our own understanding, and know that in sharing our whole selves – body, mind and spirit – we may see your Kingdom come among us.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, who calls us to have faith that can move mountains.
Amen— Kieran Bohan, Prayers for LLF Chaplains commissioning, Diocese of Liverpool, Thursday 4th March 2021