Identity

Life Story by Nick Gentry

Isaiah 43:1 NRSV
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.

Who you are is not about you.
You are God’s, that’s who you are.
You are what results
when God cannot contain joy.
You can let go of everything,
your sorrows and joys, your suffering and triumphs,
your personality, your self-made self,
and just be God’s.
You are God’s, that’s who you are.
Steve Garnaas-Holmes, selection from the reflection Who You Are

The biggest and most common misunderstanding regarding Christianity is to see it as all about being good. All too often people think Christianity’s first (or only) proclamation is: “Be good.” This emphasis (which is not unknown even within Christian circles) implies that the practice of Christianity centers on will — on doing, and more specifically, doing “good.” In fact, though, the gospel primarily declares something entirely different. Christianity at its pulsating core proclaims: “Be loved.”
– Gregory S. Clapper, Living Your Heart’s Desire

Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are
I am a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I’m calling
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling
You told me who I am, I am Yours
– selection from I am Yours by Casting Crowns

The fallen world says, “You are what you do.”  Adopting that value system immerses us in a performance-orientation where achievements, possessions, and appearances define us.  What others think of us (image) is what we work on all the time, in a kind of “never let them see you sweat” approach. The Gospel-oriented world says, “You do what you are.” Giving ourselves to this way puts us into a grace-orientation where relationships, servanthood, and integrity define us.  What God thinks of us (agape) is what we concentrate on all the time, in a kind of “always let them see you care” approach. In his classic poem “As Kingfishers Catch Fire,” Gerard Manley Hopkins described this Gospel-oriented life in these few words: ‘What I do is me, for that I came.’
– Steve Harper, Gospel Orientation

I imagine a series of concentric circles where everyone else sits at the epicenter and I roam the outer rim, struggling with an ongoing desire for entrance to the inside. When I fight my way in to the next stage of concentric circles, I find it wanting, and when I find it wanting, I’m forced back into a lesson that I’ll learn and relearn over a lifetime: my sense of identity and self worth have to derive not from some illusory inner circle but from the more enduring inner sanctum of faith.
Andrea Palpant Dilley, Be Thou My Vision

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. – e.e. cummings

Ego is to the true self what a flashlight is to a spotlight. – John Bradshaw

It goes against the grain of our modern way of thinking, but one of the holiest responses we can make to life is, “I don’t know”—with the “I” meaning the knowledge perpetrated on us by the ego.  The “I” does not know, and even if it does, it doesn’t care. [about anything but self] – Steve Harper, Sapeintial Theology

Humility is the firm foundation upon which our spiritual life is built. Humility is not underestimating our worth or allowing ourselves to be defined by another. …
Humility invites us to say “no thank you” to being the center of our own universe. Humility is recognizing that we are God’s creation and allowing ourselves to be grounded in that truth. – Kathleen R. Flood

Colonialism is about power and conformity to a set of beliefs.
Gospel is about love and giving away power.
The Spirit affirms our uniqueness and giftings.
Empire conforms us into a particular image.
– Randy Woodley, Ask and Indigenous Theologian

1 Peter 2:9-10 (NRSV)
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Beneath the world’s frantic cries,
the word persists.
“I love you. You are mine.”
– from the poem News by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

You are God – not me, not us;
help me to remember this simple fact each day.
You are the Center of creation – not me, not us;
help me to recognize my place within the orbit of your grace.
You are the Source of all life – not me, not us;
let me find in you my kinship with all creation.
–Sam Hamilton-Poore, Earth Gospel

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For an original hymn text on this topic entitled Be Still, Remember, click here

Click here for more of Nick Gentry’s incredible artwork.

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Praying for Enemies

destroying_my_enemies_by_hellhoundp2k

Destroying My Enemies by hellhoundp2k

Matthew 5:43-48 (The Message)
Jesus said, “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

I find it difficult to conceive of a more concrete way to love than by praying for one’s enemies. It makes you conscious of the hard fact that, in God’s eyes, you’re no more and no less worthy of being loved than any other person, and it creates an awareness of profound solidarity with all other human beings…. And you’ll be delighted to discover that you can no longer remain angry with people for whom you’ve really and truly prayed. –Henri Nouwen

We cannot love our enemies until we see those twin truths:
God loves me. God loves them. – Mary DeMuth

The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared? – Martin Luther

Our Lord Jesus Christ has shown us the ultimate example of love for one’s enemies, both in general and in particular. The Lord forgave those who committed the most evil deed in the world – who crucified Him to the cross, and in such forgiveness the Lord revealed the greatest love. But on a larger scale the Lord also revealed the greatest love for us, sinners, by taking upon Himself the sins of the whole world, and that means our sins, too. Sins are God’s enemies, because they go against the goodness and perfection of God’s creation, and thus the Lord showed love for His enemies, i.e. our sins, by erasing them through His sacrifice on the cross. – Father Rostislav Sheniloff, On Loving One’s Enemies

Luke 6:27-29, 31, 32, 35, 36 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also … Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them… But love your enemies… Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

It’s hard to love someone really,
especially the annoying, the arrogant, the cruel—
because I want to be separate from them.
I don’t want to be one with them,
soiled by their sin, associated with their dirt.
I want to push their boat off in a good direction
but not be in their boat.
But to love someone
is to cease judging their cruel as more cruel than I.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, excerpt from Why It’s Hard to Love

Let your religion be this,
to tend to the unloved,
to heal the world with kindness
as you have been given unearned kindness,
to be present to the grace
that flows in and around you.
And those who are against you—
tend to them, for they are unloved,
heal them with kindness they can’t expect,
be present to the grace hidden even in them;
or you have already abandoned your faith.
– Steve Garnaas Holmes, excerpt from A Thousand Ways

You can’t know everyone’s struggle, but you can honor it. You can’t see everyone’s pain but you can be gentle. You can think highly of everyone even if they’ve learned to make how they live look easy. You can be forgiving; you can be encouraging and not judging; you can give people room to fail and improve; you can free people from your own expectations and projections. You can be so loving, in fact, that though it’s apparently hard for others for you it’s just normal. It won’t be easy, but with discipline you can do it. Be so loving that you make it look easy. – Steve Garnaas-Holmes, They Make it Look Easy

Click the links for other reflections on loving our enemies by Steve Garnaas-Holmes
A Different World and The Other Cheek

Anyway by Kent Keith*
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Be good anyway.

Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People need help but will attack you if you help them.
Help them anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

*Kent Keith wrote this poem in 1968. Mother Teresa made it well known by placing it on the wall of her children’s home in Calcutta in a slightly different version. As a result, many have attributed it to her.

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Endings and Beginnings

Today may be the enemy of your tomorrow. In your business and perhaps your life, the tomorrow that you desire and envision may never come to pass if you do not end some things you are doing today. – Henry Cloud, Necessary Endings

Great is the art of the beginning,
but greater is the art of ending.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Philippians 3:13-14 (NRSV)
Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Jeremiah 7:23-24 (NRSV)
But this command I gave them, “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you.” Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward.

To be old is a glorious thing when one has not unlearned what it means to begin.
– Martin Buber

“My end is my beginning.” So often it is tragedy, loss, grief, the end of something of great value or meaning that shocks a man or woman off the trajectory of normal life into another, more sacred orbit. – Suzanne Guthrie, The Portal

Death helps us to see what is worth trusting and loving and what is a waste of time.
– J. Neville Ward

Everything is passing. Seasons turn. Stories end. Vegetables rot. Businesses close. People retire. Loved ones die. Coupons expire. Students graduate. Seeds grow. We can drive ourselves nuts trying to cling to things, even as they slip away. Or we can stay lightly in the moment, attentive to what is, unattached, ready for the next moment as well, free to fully be in each moment as it passes. When we try to “make the moment last forever” we don’t actually experience the moment; we just experience our fear of its passing. Pay attention and be fully, lovingly present to what is, without trying to keep it or control it, and the passing things of this world will be more fully yours than if you froze them in time. – Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Passing

Why should we live in the moment? For one thing, this moment is all we really have. The past is gone; we can never recapture it or change it. And all our moments to come will hold their own challenges and surprises, no matter how much we plan or dream. The only moment that we have to live is now. And the only way to have any impact on how we experience tomorrow is to live our moments well today.
– Kim Barker, Linda de Meillon, and Leigh Harrison; Birthed in Prayer

If you are focused anywhere but on this present moment, you are missing the only time you can be sure of experiencing. The past is gone. The future is unknown. Having tried to relive the past and to experience the future before it arrives, I have come to believe that in between these two extremes is peace.
– Patricia Wilson, When You Come Unglued

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (NRSV)
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die…

Live each season as it passes;
breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit,
and resign yourself to the influences of each.
– Henry David Thoreau

What I’m learning this year is that sometimes the season in life doesn’t quite line up with the season in the air, that seasons can arrive before we’re ready–carried as if by a sudden storm, a change in barometric pressure, a surprise frost. Life has its own calendar, and it doesn’t always correspond with our Pinterest boards, the liturgical year, or the calendars of our family and friends. But maybe that’s what Henry David Thoreau meant by resigning ourselves. Maybe the whole point of seasons, in life and in weather, is that sometimes they march on without our consent, without our permission, and that other times, they linger longer than we would like. All we can do is resign ourselves, to be carried along by them, to embrace them as they are. For not long after they pass, we we long for them again. – Rachel Held Evans, Living in Each Season

Revelation 22:13 NRSV
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

To see Thee is the end and the beginning,
Thou carriest us, and Thou dost go before,
Thou art the journey, and the journey’s end.
-Boethius

As truly as we shall be in the bliss of God without end,
praising and thanking him,
so truly have we been in God’s love and knowledge
in endless purpose from without beginning.
-Julian of Norwich

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
– selection from Hymn of Promise by Natalie Sleeth

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For more information on the art, scripture translations and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Wilderness: a place to prepare

Not by Bread Alone by Michael Dudash

Matthew 14:23 (NRSV)
And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.

Jim Harnish defines “the wilderness as the barren space between where we’ve been and where we are going; the empty place between a familiar, comfortable past and an unfamiliar, often risky future. It’s the place where we, like Jesus, are tempted to find some short cut to get to Easter without going through Lent; to leap ahead to the future without dealing with the very normal feelings of anxiety, sadness, loss, or fear that are always a part of every change or transition in our lives.”

On more than one occasion Jesus withdrew to deserted places to pray. Perhaps they reminded him of the wilderness experience that launched his ministry. There too life was seen and tempted in its elemental simplicity. Where the tempter sought to redefine life’s basic elements as fame and security and a full belly, Jesus discerned the exquisite but taxing simplicity of faithfulness to God in the absence of abundance… Jesus’ withdrawal perhaps has less to do with escaping ministry and more to do with seeking the strength to reengage and keep perspective. Simplify. Simplify.
– John Indermark, Traveling the Prayer Paths of Jesus

To thirst for God is to desire God; it is to know that God is essential. Sometimes we have to be in the wilderness before we recognize our thirsts, our desires. The Bible speaks of wilderness as a place of testing, trial, emptiness, absence. The rabbis called the wilderness the school of the soul. In the wilderness we discover the essential.
Kenneth H. Carter Jr., Pray for Me

If you therefore go to the desert to be rid of all the dreadful people and all the awful problems in your life, you will be wasting your time. You should go to the desert for a total confrontation with yourself. For one goes to the desert to see more and to see better. One goes to the desert especially to take a closer look at the things and people one would rather not see, to face situations one would rather avoid, to answer questions one would rather forget. – Alessandro Pronzato, Meditations on the Sand

The desert sometimes issues its own invitation: “Come! Enter into my silence, my uncluttered solitude, my stark beauty, and I will show you depths of your own soul you never knew you had. Come and listen to the Holy One who speaks within, tells you that you are loved, and clarifies your call to service. Come and find strength; let grace encompass you; let go of the baggage; and wait simply for God.”
– Elizabeth J. Canham, A Table of Delight: Feasting with God in the Wilderness

In the spiritual tradition, wilderness is the place where we leave the world behind and place ourselves at God’s disposal. – Daniel Wolpert, Leading a Life with God

The word “presence” is a relational term. The real Presence is offered in the Eucharist, but if we don’t know how to be present to the Presence there is no presence; certainly no “real” presence that can change you. What we’re doing in contemplation is learning, quite simply, how to be present. We’re learning how to access what is — and how to offer ourselves to it. – Richard Rohr

Somehow we know that without silence, words lose their meaning; that without listening, speaking no longer heals; that without distance, closeness cannot cure. Somehow we know that without a solitary place, our actions quickly become empty gestures. The careful balance between silence and words, withdrawal and involvement, distance and closeness, solitude and community forms the basis of the spiritual life and should therefore be the subject of our most personal attention.
– Henri Nouwen, Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit

I wonder if we are afraid of being silent. Do we fear that if we suspend words and thoughts the world will stop or something terrible might happen to us? … Are we afraid that if we practice this kind of prayer, we might discover our falsehoods and pretenses? Maybe our brokenness and vulnerability would be exposed. These fears can seem terrifying, but they should not deter us. God is above us, below us, beside us, and within us. And we know from the revelation of God in Christ that this God loves us. We need not be afraid. So the purpose of contemplative prayer is to listen, to be loved, and to love. The purpose is not to get what we need or what we think we need but to allow God to commune with us and communicate grace and goodness in the deepest part of our being. – Daniel Vestal, Being the Presence of Christ: A Vision for Transformation

If we picture all the obstructions between us and God as a wilderness, Lent presents us with time to clear and cultivate a part of that wilderness, to create an open space in it. In this newly opened space, we may live more freely and commune more closely with the divine. We can transform this wilderness and make it our home, our garden, a place that invites God in and asks God to stay.
Sarah Parsons, A Clearing Season: Reflections for Lent

Matthew 4:1-4 (NIV)
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

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Be sure to also check out Jan Richardson’s post, Where the Breath Begins

Church as Family

belonging ducklings1 Peter 2:16-17a (NRSV)
As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. Honor everyone. Love the family of believers…

A while back a former gang member came to our church. He was heavily tattooed and rough around the edges, but he was curious to see what church was like. He had a relationship with Jesus and seemed to get fairly involved with the church. After a few months, I found out the guy was no longer coming to the church. When asked why he didn’t come anymore, he gave the following explanation: “I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week— we were family.” That killed me because I knew that what he expected is what the church is intended to be. It saddened me to think that a gang could paint a better picture of commitment, loyalty, and family than the local church body.
– Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

At our Spanish-speaking immigrant church, people don’t have the luxury to think too hard about what it costs to raise their kids. Most have children (it probably never occurred to them not to) and keep busy making ends meet. The kids in my church don’t have Baby Mozart albums, parents who attend every school function, or a neighborhood in a top school district. Yet, they seem to be doing just as well as kids who have it all. Why? Because their moms and dads love them exorbitantly, and everyone in the church parents them as well. My church, though not perfect, does better job than most of living up to the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” An older empty-nest couple, for example, used to take care of a younger couple’s two daughters. The pastor’s wife goes out of her way to pick up children for Sunday school when their parents can’t come. We treat each other like family, and we treat all the children in the church as our own. – Liuan Huska, It Takes a Church to Raise a Child

Like the strongest biological families, God’s family at its best shelters, teaches, and supports its members — because loving other people is often tough whether we’re talking about biological or spiritual kin. Communities of faith have the opportunity to offer each other and to model for those beyond their walls a place where people can learn to love and fail to love — and yet be accepted either way.
Mary Lou Redding, The Upper Room Daily Devotional Guide

An essential part of wholeness is the sense of belonging. Belonging within nature. Belonging to one another. Belonging in your own skin. At first, Jesus rejects the Syrophoenician woman’s entreaty to cure her daughter, because she does not belong to his people. The woman cleverly dismantles his sense of limitation however, and now the Gospel belongs to all of us. (Mark 7:24-30)
– Suzanne Guthrie, The Edge of the Enclosure

Extended quote from Prodigal Brothers by Steve Garnaas-Holmes (Luke 15:11-32)
The failure of our love—distancing ourselves from God and one another— is at the heart of our sin. In our self-centeredness we break our family bond with God and with others, as if we’re not related. It is not just of our disobedience that we repent, but of our distance, our refusing to get close to God and to others, including those whom we judge.

The good news is that in the end we are unable to break that bond. Despite our attempt to disown God and each other, God stays related to us and keeps us related to each other. The father puts a ring on the younger brother’s finger—a symbol of family. And he corrects the older brother and calls the younger one “this brother of yours.” Despite their failures he invites them both in to the party. The righteousness that we need is not obedience. It’s a loving relationship—and this is not our own doing; it is the gift of God. In repentance we pray toward both God and neighbor, “I am not on my own. I am yours.”

Acts 2:41-47 (NRSV)
So those who welcomed [Peter’s message concerning Jesus Christ] were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

We must be knit together, in this work, as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others’ necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body … For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.
– John Winthrop, A Model of Christian Charity

Prayer: Make us your children
Heavenly One,
Your reach extends to every person, every nation
Offering grace, forgiveness, wholeness, and hope
A saving embrace
Drawing us to you and each other

Make us your children
Grateful for a place in your family
Humble before your love and generosity
Faithful in honoring and welcoming all
Joyful in sharing what we have found in you
Amen.

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Click Here for Steve Harper’s discussion as to “why ‘churchless Christianity’ will never work, even though some of the concerns it carries are valid.”

For a post entitled Trinity, Community and Love, click here
For a post entitled One with God, One With Each Other, click here
For a post entitled Quotes: Community, click here

Prayer: Make us your children © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the scripture translation and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Reader's Theater: The Lame Man is Healed (Acts 3)

The Beautiful by Matt Rodriguez

Reader’s Theater Script for Acts 3:1-20 (NRSV)
For three voices. It would be easy to add non speaking roles and simple staging to this script to fully dramatize the story. (the crowd, the lame man, John, etc.)

VOICE ONE:
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. A man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple.

VOICE TWO:
When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said,

PETER:
Look at us

VOICE TWO:
The man fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said,

PETER:
I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you;
in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk

VOICE ONE:
Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.

VOICE TWO:
All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

VOICE ONE:
The man clung to Peter and John. All the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished. When Peter saw it, he addressed the people,

PETER:
You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. You rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.

By faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.

In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus.

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Be sure to check out more work by Matt Rodriguez and the other artists at the Rodriguez Project.

Acts 3:1-20 (NRSV) from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

arrangement © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

For more information on the use of the scripture translation, art and this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Prayer for Paperwork

photograph by Shane Pope via Flickr

Many professions require essays and other types of paperwork to be completed before accreditation. For persons seeking ordination in the United Methodist Church, there are multiple rounds of essays, paperwork, examinations and interviews. This prayer was written with them in mind, with the hope it will be a blessing to others as well. – Lisa <><

Prayer for Paperwork
Jesus
Holy One
Pioneer and Perfector
You go before us to prepare the way.
Shine your light and your peace
on those preparing paperwork in the midst of life and service.

Calm their hearts and minds.
Defend them from frustration and doubt.
Make space for reflection and creation.

Fill their work with your wisdom, clarity, and faithfulness.
Fulfill your promises and plans for them.
Encourage them and empower them with lives full of your fruit,
Lives which bring honor and glory to your Name.

Most of all, Faithful One,
In the midst of the stress and pressure,
Remind them of their worth in your eyes,
That they are beloved and treasured by you
That their very being brings you delight
now and always, Amen.
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Prayer for Paperwork © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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