Though I like a rousing round of ave maria's as much as the next person, the past few centuries of church prayer trends have eschewed Latin in favor of the vernacular -- that is, the language of the people. And to the tune of 450 million copies in more than 70 translations (and counting), it's clear that people the world around speak the language of Harry Potter. Or rather, the story of Harry Potter speaks to them.
So as I watched the final Hogwarts Express depart from Platform 9¾ in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II this past weekend (slightly teary-eyed, I confess), I started to wonder: What might it sound like to pray in the language of Harry Potter — language that clearly resonates with folks around the world? Would it be cheesy? Probably. Profane? Perhaps. But I figured the God who relied on earthly parables about wineskins and fig trees to explain the Kingdom would understand.
All that to say, if the Harry Potter saga has struck a chord with you, here's a prayer in your language. (And if you can think of a better Harry Potter prayer, by all means, add your own):
Almighty God, we praise you for creating all things in your image: muggles and wizards, beasts and humans, the magical and the mundane.
Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts. Remind us that our hope does not lie in philosopher's stones or deathly hallows, but only in your hallowed name.
Merciful God, teach us to walk humbly. We confess that we often raise our wands at the evil we see in the world, ignoring the darkness lurking in ourselves.
Forgive us for creating social systems that marginalize and oppress. Stir our hearts to build relationships with house elves, muggles, squibs, and all who are made vulnerable by injustice. Give us courage to advocate on their behalf, confronting those who would exclude them from our communities.
As we thirst for justice, let us not resort to the unforgivable curses of violence and oppression. Remind us of a power beyond our own, a power beyond the reach of any magic.
God of Truth, you've taught us that the world cannot be divided into good people and Death Eaters. For whether we are sorted into Slytherin or Gryffindor, we are all in need of grace; our foreheads bear the searing scars of our own brokenness.
Yet, according to your mercy, no one is ever beyond redemption; help will always be given to those who ask. As you have shown mercy to us, teach us to show mercy to our enemies and the friends who've betrayed us.
Thank you for establishing your kingdom here in the wizarding world-an upside down kingdom where infants disarm dark lords, the foolish speak truth, and those who gain power are those who don't seek it. Thy kingdom come.
Betsy Shirley is Associate Editor at Sojourners.