Quotes: The Sign of the Cross

Statue honoring Elizabeth Ann Seton in New York City's St. Patrick's Cathedral. Seton was the first American to be named a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

Statue honoring Elizabeth Ann Seton in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Seton was the first American to be named a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

Galatians 2:19b-20 (NRSV)
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Three quotes from Elizabeth Ann Seaton
The bright and glorious cross which we now drag alone through the mud and dirt, how beautiful and lovely it will appear when we shall find that it opens the door of our eternal happiness for us. Follow on with courage!

If you find that there are any obstacles in your way — and doubtless you find many, as every Christian does, in the fulfillment of duty — still persevere with yet more earnestness, and rejoice to bear your share in the cross, which is our passport and seal to the kingdom of our Redeemer.

on making the sign of the cross for the first time: I was cold with the awful impression my first making it gave me — the sign of the cross of Christ on me! Deepest thoughts came with it of I know not what earnest desires to be closely united with Him who died on it. Oh, that last day when it is to be borne in triumph!

Prayer from the Sarum Primer (1538)
with motions in keeping with the spirit of the prayer
God be in my head and in my understanding
draw a small cross on your forehead with your finger
God be in my eyes and in my looking
draw a small cross next to one eye and then the other
God be in my mouth and in my speaking
draw a small cross on your lips
God be in my heart and in my thinking
draw a small cross over your heart
God be at my end and at my departing.
place both arms at your sides, palms facing front

Christian saints are often pictured gazing empathetically at the cross. Why? Because it is a soul-shattering image of the willing suffering of God in solidarity with every single “shedding of blood since the foundation of the world” (Luke 11:50). It is the only half-satisfying answer to the whole human tragedy. But it does not satisfy the rational mind, only the empty and seeking soul. After true gazing, the cross becomes a two-way mirror. We see our own suffering, the suffering of the world, and God’s suffering as all one and the same. – Richard Rohr

Jesus’ wounded body is an icon for what we are all doing to one another and to the world. Jesus’ resurrected body is an icon of God’s promise, response, and victory over these crucifixions. The two images contain the whole transformative message of the Gospel. – Richard Rohr

All God’s plans have the mark of the cross on them,
and all His plans have death to self in them.
– E. M. Bounds

The summation of the life of Jesus in the symbol and the sign of the cross is not meant so much as an act of “taking up” the cross, as it is of “taking the cross inside.” The direction of the sign of the cross is inward, which suggests embracing and internalizing the life of Jesus. Nevertheless, this inward direction suggests that, starting with the historical events of the life of Jesus, we live these events here and now, appropriating them outside time and space, as we become one with the timeless Christ.
Andreas Andreopoulos, The Sign of the Cross

Never leave your house without making the sign of the cross. It will be to you a staff, a weapon, an impregnable fortress. Neither man nor demon will dare to attack you, seeing you covered with such powerful armor. Let this sign teach you that you are a soldier, ready to combat against the demons, and ready to fight for the cross of justice. Are you ignorant of what the cross has done? It has vanquished death, destroyed sin, emptied hell, dethroned Satan, and restored the universe. Would you then doubt its power?
John Chrysostom

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Poem: We Need to Linger

holy week primitive cartoon adapted
Before we get to Easter, we need to linger:
in the vulnerability of the basin and the towel
at the remembrance and promise of the table
in the struggle and betrayal of the garden
in the shadows and shouts of injustice
at the bloody brutal beautiful cross
in the silence of linen and spices and death

For without these, the empty tomb is empty

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Poem: We Need to Linger © 2000 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.

#LukeActs2014: Come Sup With God (Luke 14)

World Communion Altar Table, photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

World Communion Altar Table, photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Luke 14:12-14 NIV
Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

In the story of the feeding of the 5,000 we see Jesus once again addressing the most essential, physical needs of his fellow human beings – hunger, thirst, companionship – and once again, breaking down every socially-constructed barrier that keeps us from eating with one another. He did the same thing when, much to the chagrin of the religious leaders, he dined with tax collectors and prostitutes and told his more well-to-do hosts that “when you give a banquet, invite the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.” The English word companion, is derived from the Latin com (“with”) and panis (“bread”). A companion, therefore, is someone with whom you share your bread. – Rachel Held Evans, 5000 Companions

Luke 14:15-24 NRSV
One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, “Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, “I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, “I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, “Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ Then the master said to the slave, “Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’ ”

Sadly, the way we as Christians have historically responded to the gift of the Eucharist is to make sure that we understand it, then to make sure we put boundaries around it and then to make sure we enforce both the correct understanding and the correct boundaries. But on the night Jesus was betrayed he didn’t say “this is my body broken for you…UNDERSTAND this in remembrance of me….he didn’t say ACCEPT this or DEFEND this or BOUNDARY this in remembrance of me he just said do this in remembrance of me. – Nadia Bolz Weber, “This teaching is HARD, who can accept it” – a sermon on the Eucharist

The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fattened; let no one go forth hungry! Let all partake of the Feast of Faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness. Let none lament their poverty, for the Universal Kingdom has been revealed.
– John Chrysostom

Come Sup With God
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Meter 88.88 (LM)
Suggested tunes:
HURSLEY (United Methodist Hymnal #339) or
GIFT OF LOVE (United Methodist Hymnal #408)

Come sup with God all you who thirst
All you who hunger be the first
Feast on Christ’s Body and his Blood
O taste and see this meal of Love

Come children, elders, blind, and spent
Come foolish, able, indigent
Confess, repent, and then receive
Forgiveness flows abundantly

Come often, friend, for here is grace
made manifest in time and place
Christ’s mercy floods our brokenness
with healing balm and righteousness

Come to be changed. Come to be fed.
Come savor Christ, the Life, the Bread.
Drink deep the gift of healing poured
and leave a vessel of our Lord.

Sing Praise to Christ our Host and meal
Whose saving work provides the seal
for us once bound, now freed from death
to live for Christ with every breath

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Come Sup with God © 2000 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.

#LukeActs2014: Luke 14

LukeActs logo week 14Reading for the week of April 6: Luke 14
Click Here for more information on the #LukeActs2014 Reading Plan

Consider reading the chapter in several translations and choosing a few verses to memorize. This week I chose:
Luke 14:11 NRSV
All who exalt themselves will be humbled,
and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Luke 14:13-14 NIV
When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Main events of this chapter (with links to previous posts):
Healing on the Sabbath, The Man With Dropsy
Luke 14:1-6

Lessons in Humility and Inclusion
Luke 14:7-14
Quotes: Humility

Parable of the Great Banquet
Luke 14:15-24 (Matthew 22:2-14)
Hymn Text: Come Sup with God

The Cost of Discipleship
Luke 24:25-35
Quotes: Costly Discipleship

Prayer: Open Our Eyes, Our Hands, Our Lips

Open to the Light, photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Open to the Light, photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Merciful God, open our eyes
That we may see you at work
In us
Through us
Around us

Prince of Peace, open our hands
That we may release all that weighs us down
The burdens
The critics
The striving in our own strength

Holy Spirit, open our lips
That we may share the story of your saving love
With joy
With authenticity
With a power beyond our capability

All for your glory
All for you glory
All for you glory
Amen

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Prayer: Open our Eyes, Our Hands, Our Lips © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
You are welcome to use this work in a worship or other devotional setting with proper attribution. Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

#LukeActs2014: Luke 13

LukeActs logo week 13Reading for the week of March 30: Luke 13
Click Here for more information on the #LukeActs2014 Reading Plan

Consider reading the chapter in several translations and choosing a few verses to memorize. This week I chose:
Luke 13:12-13 NIV
When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Luke 13:29 NIV
People will come from east and west and north and south,
and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God

Main events of this chapter (with links to previous posts):
Repent and Live
Luke 13:1-9

Healing on the Sabbath, The Crippled Woman
Luke 13:10-17

Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast
Luke 13:18-20 (Mark 4:30-32; Matthew 13:31-33)
Quotes: Little Things, Great Love
Quotes and Prayer: Welcoming Branches

Who Will Be Saved?
Luke 13:22-30

Jesus Sorrows for Jerusalem
Luke 13:31-35 (Mathew 23:37-48)

Prayer for a Loved One Near Death

Ria Munk on her Deathbed by Gustav Klimt. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Ria Munk on her Deathbed by Gustav Klimt. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, I received an e-mail from a friend requesting prayer for herself, her family and her mom who was nearing death. I had to trust that the prayer could travel where I could not. My friend read the prayer to her mother, and God used it to bring peace. That was all God’s grace, not anything special about me or these words. God was already present and at work. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

It is a sacred honor to be with someone while they are dying. The veil between this life and the life to come is thin. It can be a stressful time, but also a holy time. In these times, and all the other times as well, cling to the presence and promises of God. God is near. God is good. God is strong to save. – Lisa <><

Psalm 23 NKJV
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Jesus,
You are the Good Shepherd
We are the sheep of your fold
So is name the loved one

You love her and know she is moving towards death
You love her and promise she is also headed to a new life with you beyond death

We trust you are walking with her and her loved ones right now
We trust you will see her all the way through the shadowy valley
and into everlasting light with you

Help us to hear your voice and cling to your promises
Dispel all fear and guard every heart
Come with peace and provision
Come with strength and comfort
Come with salvation and hope

Our cups run over in praise and thanks
For your goodness and saving love
Lead her, and later all of us, home to you
Amen.

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Prayer for a Loved One Near Death © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
You are welcome to use this work in a worship or other devotional setting with proper attribution. Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.