2015 Lenten Reading Plan: Gospel of John

2015 Lenten Reading Plan- gospel of john
It is a common practice during the 40 days of Lent to be especially intentional about setting aside time for daily Scripture reading and reflection. This post provides a plan to read through the Gospel of John in 40 days. You will notice Sundays are reserved for worship and rest. You will also notice the reading plan starts on the first Sunday of Lent, February 22, rather than Ash Wednesday. This decision was made so that the post resurrection passages in the Gospel of John are read following Easter.

The plan includes the SOAP method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here

The reading plan is presented in two formats: a checklist/bookmark and an extended version. The extended version includes an action for bringing each day’s scripture reading to life. While this action is appropriate for persons of all ages, it might be especially helpful for children.

To download a Microsoft Word Document of the bookmark, click below
2015 Gospel of John Lenten Reading Plan

To download a Microsoft Word Document of the extended version of the reading plan, click below
2015 Gospel of John Lenten Reading Plan, extended version

Additional Suggestions:
1. Print the bookmark on cardstock. You will get two bookmarks per page when printing front and back.
2. Add your church name, contact information and/or logo
3. Add special events as a reminder and invitation to attend
4. Use either plan at other times during the year by adjusting the dates

A huge thank you to Nicole Sallee and the Community UMC Worship Design Team for their creative help in designing the extended reading plan. – Lisa <><

Reader’s Theater: Jesus, Bread of Life (John 6:28-40)

christ eucharist bread icon
ALL SINGING:
Eat this Bread
by Robert Batastini and Jacques Berthier
United Methodist Hymnal #628
or
Hungry, verse 1 and chorus
by Kathryn Scott
CCLI Song # 2650364
or
another song of your choosing

The instruments continue during the scripture reading.

VOICE ONE:
The crowd asked Jesus,

CHOIR or CONGREGATION:
What must we do to perform the works of God?

JESUS:
This is the work of God- that you believe in him whom he has sent.

VOICE ONE:
What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

JESUS:
Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven,
but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

CHOIR or CONGREGATION:
Sir, give us this bread always.

JESUS:
I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

ALL SINGING:
Eat this Bread or Hungry vs 1, chorus
Or another song of your choosing

JESUS:
You have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.

ALL SINGING:
Eat this Bread or Hungry vs 1, chorus
Or another song of your choosing

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Adapted 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.

Reader’s Theater: Jesus, Bread of Life (John 6:28-40)
© 2015 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.

Modern Ash Wednesday Service

AshWednesday1PRELUDE
People are encouraged to enter in silence. Lights are dim.
As people gather, words appropriate to the day appear and disappear on the screen.
You can create your own presentation or find one here.

INVITATION TO THE OBSERVANCE OF LENTEN DISCIPLINE
The Pastor reminds the congregation of the origins of Lent and Ash Wednesday, following it with an invitation to observe a holy Lent through various Lenten disciplines. An excellent invitation to use or model your invitation after may be found in the United Methodist Book of Worship, p. 322.

SCRIPTURE AND SONG
At the end of the invitation, an acoustic guitar and djembe begin to play the introduction to the first song. We are indebted to Taylor Burton-Edwards, compiler of an excellent Contemporary Service for Ash Wednesday, for the idea of alternating the reading of scripture with the haunting song O-So-So from The Faith We Sing, #2232.

ALL SINGING: O-So-So (The Faith We Sing, #2232, Verse 1 twice)
Following the singing, a shofar blows.
A recording will work if you are unable to locate and play one live.
A person stands in the midst of the congregation and reads.
Do not project the words to the scripture as it is read.
The instruments continue during the reading.

ONE VOICE Joel 2:1-2, 12-17a (NRSV)
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near— a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come.

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.

ALL SINGING: O-So-So (The Faith We Sing, #2232, Verse 2 twice)
Following the singing, a person stands in the midst of the congregation and reads.
Do not project the words to the scripture as it is read.
The instruments continue during the reading.

ONE VOICE 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:2 (NRSV)
We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!

ALL SINGING: O-So-So (The Faith We Sing, #2232, Verse 3 twice)
Following the singing, a person stands in the midst of the congregation and reads.
Do not project the words to the scripture as it is read.
The instruments continue during the reading.
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 may be substituted for the verses from Psalm 103.

ONE VOICE Psalm 103:8-14 (Adapted from the New Jerusalem Bible)
The Lord is tenderness and pity, slow to anger and rich in faithful love;
His indignation does not last forever, nor his resentment remain for all time;
He does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor repay us as befits our offenses.
As the height of heaven above earth,
so strong is his faithful love for those who revere him.
As the distance of east from west, so far from us does he put our faults.
As tenderly as a father treats his children, so the Lord treats those who revere him;
He knows of what we are made, he remembers that we are dust.

ALL SINGING: O-So-So (The Faith We Sing, #2232, Verse 4 twice)
Instruments and singing end before the next prayer

THANKSGIVING OVER THE ASHES
The Pastor offers a prayer of thanksgiving, calling to mind the many meanings associated with ashes: our creation out of dust, mourning our sin (sackcloth and ashes), and our mortality (eventual return to dust). An excellent prayer to use or model your prayer after may be found in the United Methodist Book of Worship, p. 323.

IMPOSITION OF ASHES
Persons are invited forward to receive ashes on their forehead, place their offering on the altar table, and pray at the altar rail. The words projected as persons gathered are again projected. The guitar plays softly.

The following words are traditionally spoken by those applying the ashes as the ashes are received:
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (Gen. 3:19)
Repent, and believe the gospel.

CONFESSION AFTER THE IMPOSITION OF ASHES
Show the video Confession Starter from Shift Worship.

TIME OF SILENT CONFESSION
After a few minutes of silent confession, project the words to the following scripture.

ALL SPEAKING: Psalm 51:1-3, 7, 10-17 (NIV)
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.
Save me from blood-guilt, O God, the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

WORD OF GRACE AND PARDON

SONG: Come Thou Fount (United Methodist Hymnal, #400)
Or another song of your choosing

BENEDICTION

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First Offered at Community United Methodist Church, DeBary FL
Modern Ash Wednesday Service Compilation
© 2012 Nicole Sallee and Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Nicole and Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The United Methodist Book of Worship
(The United Methodist Publishing House, Nashville. 1992)

Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NRSV are taken 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.

Psalm 107- The Path of Addiction and Recovery (Psalm 107:17-22)

group-of-people-walking-path-woods
Psalm 107 describes different groups of people who experience God’s steadfast, saving action in their lives. When I read verses 17-22, it reminded me of God’s saving action as I travel the path of recovery from addictive behaviors, recovery for myself and so many I love and serve.

Psalm 107:17-22 NIV
Some became fools through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities
They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and he saved them from their distress
He sent out his word and healed them
He rescued them from the grave

The path of addiction begins with pain
Pain from our own foolish, impulsive, rebellious, selfish choices
Pain from getting caught in the backwash of the destructive choices of others
Pain from just living in a broken, disordered world

We reach for things to take away the pain
Chocolate to Cocaine to Porn to 70 hour work weeks to Amazon to Netflix to Nintendo
Bingeing and Self-medicating and Burying
We lose our appetite for the good things of life
We look to these behaviors as salvation, but they actually bring us suffering
They take us to the very gates of death

Friends, there is hope
There is the good news
Anyone can cry out to God and God will hear
We can turn to God and God’s path of recovery
God’s love and strength are unfailing- even when we fail ourselves

God saves
Salvation means wholeness, healing
But it takes time
God does not wave a wand for a cosmic quick fix
God does not hand us a divine get out of rehab free card
Instead, God is steadfast in walking with us and working with us
Recovery is a journey, not a jump

God sends forth His word- creative, life-giving
A new story for our lives
A new truth for our lies
Instead of medicating and burying the pain
We face our pain and begin to heal
We are called forth into the light like Lazarus from the tomb
God rescues us from the grave of our downfall and disease

How do we respond to the grace of God’s transforming action in our lives?

Psalm 107:21-22 NIV
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind
Let them sacrifice thank-offerings
and tell of his works with songs of joy

Gathering together for worship and testimony are mile-markers on the path of recovery
Receiving and offering prayers of thanksgiving
Receiving and offering songs of celebration and joy
Receiving and offering the ongoing testimony of God through scripture
Receiving and offering the the ongoing testimony of God’s healing power in our lives
Receiving and offering support to one another in word and deed
In short, celebrating and sharing what we have found in our faithful God

Prayer: Shine Jesus Shine
CCLI Song # 30426
Graham Kendrick © 1987 Make Way Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)

Lord the light of Your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness, shining;
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us,
Set us free by the truth You now bring us,
Shine on me, Shine on me.

Lord, I come into Your awesome presence
From the shadows into Your radiance;
By the blood I may enter Your brightness,
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness.
Shine on me, Shine on me.

As we gaze on Your kingly brightness
So our faces display Your likeness,
Ever changing from glory to glory,
Mirrored here may our lives tell Your story.
Shine on me, shine on me.

Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father’s glory;
Blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire.
Flow, river, flow,
Flood the nations with grace and mercy;
Send forth Your Word, Lord and let there be light.

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For more information on Christian Recovery Programs, check out Celebrate Recovery. If you live in the Sarasota, Florida area, know you have help and support in many congregations, including Trinity United Methodist Church where I serve as pastor.

Psalm 107, The Path of Addiction and Recovery © 2015 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.

Reflection and Prayer: Seed, Wheat, Bread (Psalm 1, Matthew 3:8-12, Matthew 13:24-30, John 6)

wheatThere are times when a line from scripture opens up a path through other scriptures to a new place with God.

My most recent trip began with Psalm 1, a comparison of those who follow and delight in the ways of God and those who choose their own path, which is often destructive for themselves and others. The first are like trees “planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.” The second “are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”

Chaff is straw- withered, brittle stalks remaining after a grain harvest. Nothing like a tree. Trees take longer to produce fruit, but remain season after season.

Chaff is also the discarded casing around the grain itself. Wheat and chaff, for example. The wheat is separated from the chaff by throwing it into the air. The heavier wheat falls to the ground while the chaff is “driven away” by the wind.

This led to Matthew 3:8-12 and the sharp, prophetic voice of John the Baptizer. I knew I’d find references to the division of wheat and chaff, but also found references to trees and fruit. “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.” (v. 8) Repentance means to do a u-turn, to do a 180 from walking in our own ways to walking with God. Our lives should show this change season after season in delicious (from the Latin words for delight and entice) and nutritious (life-giving) words and actions.

A tree must be nurtured to continue to bear fruit, just like our relationship with God must be nurtured. Presumption, apathy, legalism, entitlement, and judgmental attitudes bear no fruit. Barren trees represent a withered, brittle, barren being. The Baptizer reminds us trees can be cut down the same as crops.

The wheat theme led to Matthew 13:24-30, a parable of Jesus about a field of wheat and weeds. Life is a mixture of good and evil this side of heaven. We are a mixture as well. Will we cooperate with God to nurture the wheat or will we go our way and nurture the weeds? Will we embrace God’s patience with all that is in and around us, knowing we may not recognize it’s truth now, knowing there is still time for change?

Images of seeds, wheat and harvest led to bread which led to John 6, where Jesus reveals his divine person and purpose using the metaphor of bread. This is where my imagining opened my heart again to God’s great love and grace in Jesus.

Jesus- the seed of eternity sewn in a humble womb
Growing in strength and wisdom
Irrigated in water and the Spirit
Bearing much fruit

Jesus- cut down in a harvest of hate
Sifted in the wind of accusation and mocking
Broken between the stones of injustice and fear
Seasoned with spices
and salty tears
Covered in cloth
and set in a dry cool place
In time… risen
The Bread of Life

John 6:32-35
Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

And we come full circle to the water promises of Psalm 1. Wow!

Now, more wow. If we are followers of Christ, we become like our Jesus. The scriptures even name the followers of Christ his Body. Our journey is too one of seed, wheat and bread for the world.

Take a breath and let that nourish your soul. – Lisa <><

Jesus we want to be wheat,
But we are so often weeds
Sewn in self deception
Driven by winds beyond our making

Take away our bent to sinning
Our twisted torture
Our dry disorder
and dis-ease

Take us
Plant us anew
Nurture us to fruitfulness

Take us
Harvest us anew
Deliver us from evil

Take us
Make us anew
Your Body
Your Bread
Blessed and broken
Risen and redeemed
A mystery
A meal of grace
For our hunger
And our hungry world
Amen

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Click here for a collection of quotes on the theme Jesus, The Bread of Life

Reflection and Prayer: Seed, Wheat, Bread © 2015 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.

Worship Resource: Presentation of Bibles and Blessing Their Use

child read bibleEarly in the new year we celebrate a Bible Sunday. Everyone is encouraged to bring the Bible they use for devotion and study to worship. (Many do this year round while others use the Bibles we provide in the pews.) This is also the Sunday where we distribute the Bible reading plan for the year and present Bibles to persons who have not received one before- children, teens, and adults.

The following liturgy is for presenting Bibles and blessing their use. I pray it is useful to you as you honor and spread God’s Word. – Lisa <><

PASTOR OR OTHER CHURCH LEADER:
It is our joy and privilege to present you with a Bible. When you read it, remember how deeply you are loved by God and all of us.

The Bibles are distributed to those who have not received one before.

PASTOR OR OTHER CHURCH LEADER: Proverbs 3:1, 2, 5, 6 (NRSV)
King Solomon advised his son, “My child, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare they will give you. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

PASTOR OR OTHER CHURCH LEADER:
Receive the Word of God
Learn its truth.
Here God reveals who we are.
Here God leads us, strengthens us, and gives us purpose.
Here God grants wisdom far beyond what any human can provide.

Everyone is invited to hold their Bible to their chest. Or you could invite them to hold their Bible in the air.

ALL:
Gracious God, thank you for your Word. I accept it and treasure it as a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Thank you for every person who has loved me, prayed for me, and invested in my spiritual development. Multiply the wisdom, skill, and faith you have shared through them. May it live and grow in me and in every person I influence. For the honor and glory of your Name. Amen.

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Worship Resource: Presenting Bibles and Blessing Their Use
© 2015 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.

Sermon Series Recordings: Home for Christmas

Home for Christmas jpg
Sermon Series: Home for Christmas
Message 1 of 4: God Moves In
Scriptures: John 1:1-14; Zephaniah 3:14-20
Offered 11/30/14 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Message 2 of 4: Making a Home for God
Scriptures: Luke 1:26-38
Offered 12/07/14 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Message 3 of 4: No Room
Scriptures: Luke 2:1-7
Offered 12/14/14 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Message 4 of 4: Far From Home
Scriptures: Matthew 2; Psalm 34
Offered 12/28/14 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

© 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.