Two Simple Questions for Spiritual Self Examination

Open, Listening. Taken at the Life Enrichment Center Fruitland Park. Photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Open, Listening. Taken at the Life Enrichment Center Fruitland Park. Photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Examen by Steven Garnaas-Holmes
From his blog Unfolding Light
Reprinted with permission

The voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
”Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight a path for the Holy One:”
… Bear fruit worthy of repentance.
                  —Matthew 3:3, 8

The ancient examen, or examination of consciousness, is a simple, two-part prayer of discernment, reviewing a recent time period (a day, an hour, week, whatever).

         • When did I feel closest to God or most in harmony with life?

Give thanks for the “consolations:” those moments when you felt the gift of life, and the presence or grace of God. Be mindful that the grace in those moments, and the God who granted it, are still with you.

         • When did I feel most out of touch or out of harmony with God or life?

Embrace also the “desolations:” the sorrow, warning, loss or other response arising from those moments when you felt out of harmony, when you felt life drain from you. Be mindful that God was with you then and is now. The inner discord you feel is the Spirit nudging you back toward the path of Life. Within you is an innate desire to be in harmony with God. Dwell with that longing; it is your repentance. Follow it: it is the path of the Holy One. Let it guide you. It is the light that will lead you through the darkness to God.

Reader’s Theater: Jesus Presented in the Temple (Luke 2:21-40)

Simeon in the Temple by Rembrandt

Simeon in the Temple by Rembrandt

Reader’s Theater: Jesus Presented in the Temple
Based on Luke 2:21-40 (CEB, Simeon’s words from NIV)
Three speakers:
READER ONE, READER TWO, SIMEON

READER ONE
When eight days had passed, Jesus’ parents circumcised him and gave him the name Jesus. This was the name given to him by the angel before he was conceived.

READER TWO
When forty days had passed, the time came for their ritual cleansing. In accordance with the Law from Moses, they brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. It’s written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord.” They offered a sacrifice in keeping with what’s stated in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

READER ONE
A man named Simeon was in Jerusalem. He was righteous and devout. He eagerly anticipated the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. The Holy Spirit revealed to him that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Led by the Spirit, he went into the temple area. Meanwhile, Jesus’ parents brought the child to the temple so that they could do what was customary under the Law. Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God.

SIMEON
Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
You now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
Which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
A light for revelation to the Gentiles
And for glory to your people Israel.

READER TWO
His father and mother were amazed by what was said about him.
Simeon blessed them and said to Mary,

SIMEON
This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel,
And to be a sign that will be spoken against,
So that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.
And a sword will pierce your own soul too.

READER ONE
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, who belonged to the tribe of Asher. She was very old. After she married, she lived with her husband for seven years. She was now an eighty-four-year-old widow. She never left the temple area but worshiped God with fasting and prayer night and day. She approached at that very moment and began to praise God and to speak about Jesus to everyone who was looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

READER TWO
When Mary and Joseph had completed everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to their hometown, Nazareth in Galilee. The child grew up and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.

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Simeon’s words from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

All other text taken or adapted from the COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE. Copyright © 2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Reader’s Theater: Jesus Presented in the Temple © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Now on Tumblr- Water in the Desert

tumblr-logoGreetings! Thanks so much for being on the journey with me. The blog quietly passed 500 posts last month. That’s amazing to me and I’m humbled by the grace of it all. It’s always been my hope that these quotes, prayers and worship resources would be helpful to others. One beggar showing another beggar where to find bread. Thanks so much for the encouraging comments on how you’re using them and for letting others know they’re welcome to use them as well.

I’ve just started a new micro-blog on Tumblr entitled Water in the Desert. It focuses on short Scriptures, prayers and quotes to keep us encouraged during those dry times on the road to wholeness. For me, the journey away from shame and perfectionism needs a constant flow of encouragement. The most helpful words remind me of God’s redeeming power in self compassion, compassion for others, grace, honesty and transparency. You’re very welcome to join me there as well.

 

May this new year take you from strength to strength.
Grace and Peace to you, now and always- Lisa <><

Photo Quote: Spiritual Resilience

candle window spiritual resilience

This piece was created using PicMonkey, a free, online picture editor. It’s super easy to use and has lots of great fonts, filters and other editing goodies. Someone with limited artistic abilities (like me) can feel very accomplished very quickly. – Lisa <><

ps- If you know the artist of the photograph please let me know so I may give proper credit.

Advent Photo-A-Day: Day 25, Light

Path of Light. Photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Path of Light. Photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

The thought behind the photo:
Instead of doing an Advent Wreath in our home this year, we did an Advent Path. Today the journey of Advent is over and Christmas has come again. I’m so very grateful Christ came so long ago to make a way to God. Because of Him, anyone, including me, can walk as a child of the Light.

I want to walk as a child of the light;
I want to follow Jesus.
God set the stars to give light to the world;
the star of my life is Jesus.
In him there is no darkness at all;
the night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God:
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

I want to see the brightness of God;
I want to look at Jesus.
Clear Sun of righteousness, shine on my path,
and show me the way to the Father.
In him there is no darkness at all;
the night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God:
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

I’m looking for the coming of Christ;
I want to be with Jesus.
When we have run with patience the race,
we shall know the joy of Jesus.
In him there is no darkness at all;
the night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God:
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.
– Kathleen Thomerson

SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:78-79 NRSV
By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

The December 25, 2013 devotion from http://umrethinkchurch.tumblr.com 
SCRIPTURE: John 1:1-14, CEB
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. A man named John was sent from God. He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light. The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him. But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children, born not from blood nor from human desire or passion, but born from God. The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Light is an important fixture at Christmas. We find lights on beautifully decorated tress, storefronts, churches and homes. Have you ever stopped to enjoy how just one candle—one string of lights can light up a dark room?

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.

Light is disruptive. It breaks up the darkness. It illuminates. God’s light is like that, shining a spotlight on things we sometimes choose not to see.

What parts of our lives—of our world need a bit of that light to shine? How might we be ambassadors of that light?

Like John the Baptist, how can our light point to God’s love and light in the world?

This Christmas day, embrace the light that came to us in the form of a baby born in less than perfect conditions.

Immanuel. God with us. May we go forth from this day as people who have seen and experienced that Light.

Thanks for journeying with us this Advent. A merry Christmas to you and yours.

– Your friends at Rethink Church

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Thank you Rethink Church for a great way to make preparing for Christmas more meaningful. Join me and thousands more in setting aside time to reflect, focus, and literally picture the deep themes of Jesus’ birth.

Click here for more information on Advent Photo-A-Day from Rethink Church.

Click here for a master list of links to my submissions. Lisa <><