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 <><

A Great Thanksgiving For Christmas Based on O Holy Night

O Holy NightA Great Thanksgiving For Christmas Based on O Holy Night
A Great Thanksgiving is also known as a Eucharistic Prayer or Prayer for Holy Communion. It is used to consecrate the bread and the wine/grape juice. This Great Thanksgiving is inspired by the beloved Christmas classic, O Holy Night.

ONE:
Holy One, Eternal and Blessed

ALL:
We lift up our hearts to You.

ONE:
Your love breaks forth,
Calling the wonder of creation into being
Filling our weary world with hope and light

ALL:
We rejoice with the angel voices
Bowing before You in thanks and praise
Holy, holy, holy, Lord
God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of Your glory.

ONE:
When the fullness of time had come
You sent your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ
That all people might know their sacred worth
And embrace your perfect love

ALL:
Your law is love and Your gospel is peace

ONE:
The demands and burdens of the day left no place for Your birth.
The poor and the animals made room.
The proud sought Your power and Your death.
Wise Ones sought Your presence, brought You gifts.
In our sin and error we despise and reject You.
You respond with steadfast love and persevering grace

ALL:
Divine One, forgive us
End our foolish longings
Teach us to love you
And to love one another as sisters and brothers
In Jesus’ Name
Break the chains of isolation and fear
Cease the oppression and the prejudice

ONE:
On the night in which he gave himself up for us,
Jesus took bread, gave thanks to You, broke the bread,
gave it to those gathered around the table, and said:
“Take, eat; this is my body which is given for You.
Do this in remembrance of me.”

When the supper was over, he took the cup,
gave thanks to You, gave it to those gathered and said:
“Drink from this, all of You;
this is my blood of the new covenant,
poured out for You and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as You drink it, in remembrance of me.”

ALL:
We remember You, and welcome You,
And proclaim Your power and glory forever:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again!

ONE:
Come Holy Spirit,
Abide with us and in us
And on these gifts of bread and wine
Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ
that we may be filled with Your hope and Your light
and be useful to You in Your saving work.

ALL:
Holy One- Father, Son, Spirit
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done
All to the glory and honor of Your Name.

ALL: singing or speaking
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Click Here, for a Great Thanksgiving Celebrating the Joy of Christmas
This Great Thanksgiving incorporates texts from well-known hymns and Christmas carols as congregational responses. The responses may be sung or spoken.

Click Here, for a Great Thanksgiving for Christmas
This Great Thanksgiving uses traditional Christmas images and congregational responses.

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O Holy Night” (“Cantique de Noël“) is a well-known Christmas carol based on the French poem “Minuit, chrétiens” (Midnight, Christians) by Placide Cappeau. Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwightcreated a singing edition based on Cappeau’s French text in 1855.

A Great Thanksgiving For Christmas Based on O Holy Night © 2013 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 art and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Advent Photo-A-Day: Day 24, Joy

Mistletoes, photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Mistletoes, photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

The thought behind the photo:
Last year, six three-year-olds from our church preschool came bounding into my office. They were dressed for their Christmas party and so excited to give me a gift. “Open it! Open it!” I reached into the bag to find a white shirt with green imprints of their feet hanging from painted red ribbons. At the bottom of the shirt it read, “Mistletoes.” We laughed and hugged and took some pictures. Their gift was wonderful, but their presence more than their present filled me with joy.

Joy is about presence. The presence of those we love may come and go, but the presence of the One who loves us most never ends. (Hebrews 13:5)  Joy is associated with the word enthusiasm which comes from the Greek word en theos – God within. This is the very heart of the Christmas story- God with us and for us and in us. This is what makes the arrival of the Babe in Bethlehem tidings of great joy.

Joy is the serious business of Heaven. – C.S. Lewis

SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:8-11 NKJV
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

It is joy to all nations that Christ is born, the Prince of Peace, the King who rules in righteousness…Beloved, the greatest joy is to those who know Christ as a Saviour…The further you submit yourself to Christ the Lord, the more completely you know Him, the fuller will your happiness become. Surface joy is to those who live where the Saviour is preached; but the great deeps, the great fathomless deeps of solemn joy which glisten and sparkle with delight, are for such as know the Saviour, obey the Anointed One, and have communion with the Lord Himself…you will never know the fullness of the joy which Jesus brings to the soul, unless under the power of the Holy Spirit you take the Lord your Master to be your All in all, and make Him the fountain of your intensest delight. – Charles Spurgeon

The December 24, 2013 devotion from http://umrethinkchurch.tumblr.com 
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:2-7, CEB
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.
On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned.
You have made the nation great; you have increased its joy.
They rejoiced before you as with joy at the harvest, as those who divide plunder rejoice.
As on the day of Midian, you’ve shattered the yoke that burdened them,
the staff on their shoulders, and the rod of their oppressor.
Because every boot of the thundering warriors,
and every garment rolled in blood will be burned, fuel for the fire.
A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders.
He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be vast authority and endless peace for David’s throne and for his kingdom,
establishing and sustaining it with justice and righteousness now and forever.

Against the backdrop of darkness is the dawning of a new day. New light. New life. Bonds of oppression broken. Endless peace. At the core of Isaiah’s message is rejoicing. Joy.

The Messiah is born, inaugurating God’s coming kin-dom.

When we remember those rods of oppression that seem unbreakable, what is the good news that breaks through?

As we celebrate the dawning of light through the birth of the Christ child, where in our lives are we seeing the in-breaking of God’s kingdom, and who are we sharing this good news with?

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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 <><