Two Pockets: Healthy, Faithful Perspective

A well respected and beloved Polish Rabbi named Simcha Bunim used to say,
“Every person should have two pockets.
In one, there should be a note that says ‘for my sake was the world created.’
In the second, there should be a note that says, ‘I am dust and ashes.’”

Rabbi Bunim went on to say one must know how to use the notes, each one in its proper place and at the right time.

He knows us well

When misused, we hunker down in one pocket and make a home
We use a note to justify, judge, and deflect self examination

For my sake the world was created- I’m all that and a bag of chips
I am dust and ashes- Eeyore is my best buddy

But, when we open to the wisdom of the notes, we accept we are not one or the other. We realize we are both notes. Both pockets. We see the wisdom of the notes in the wisdom of God’s Word which goes back and forth, naming us and reminding us who we are- beloved and dust. We are both and we need both.

I am dust and ashesWhen we are too proud, too entitled, too full of ourselves, too self-sufficient, we reach in a pocket and remember anokhi afar va’efer, I am dust and ashes
I am small
I am worthless
I am mortal
I am unclean
I miss the mark, I stray from the path- that’s what the word sin literally means in Greek
I am like everyone else who has ever lived and who will live
I need a savior

Psalm 90:3 NRS
You turn us back to dust, and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”

Ecclesiastes 3:20b NIV
All come from dust, and to dust all return.

Luke 9:41 NRSV
“O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?”

In Luke 3, John the Baptist is right to remind us we are a “brood of vipers” and of our need of repentance, to turn back to God’s path, not just with our words but our actions.

for my sake was the world createdThen, when we are discouraged, overwhelmed and losing faith (when we feel like dirt) we reach in the other pocket and remember bishvili nivra ha’olam, for my sake was the world created.
I am a unique and beloved child of the King of kings
Christ loved me enough to die for me and raise me to new life
I am fearfully and wonderfully made
I am called
I am gifted
I am empowered by the Holy Spirit to do great things for God
God is using me in the salvation and transformation of the world

Psalm 8:4-8 NRSV
What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Psalm 139:14 NRSV
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.

We stand with Jesus in our baptism, water washed, anointed with the fiery dove of the Holy Spirit, named and claimed by God as beloved children.

Jesus stepped into the water not out of his need but of ours
To remind us of our great need- I am dust and ashes
To remind us who we are in Him- For my sake the world was created

Prayer for Perspective
Eternal and Beautiful God,
The One who births us and names us
Grant us perspective
A holy centering
of truth, humility and our belovedness

Not too high that we fall away from you
our need of you
our need of others

Not too low that we fail to trust
to reach out for you
to reach out with you

In you, with you, for you we are
humble and powerful
unique and alike
common and regal
priceless and dust

Grant us perspective, Merciful One
A holy centering
Let no voice be too loud
Or too soft
So we may persevere in faith
in hope
in following
in becoming
Amen

*********************
I am indebted to Rabbi Jack Moline for a blog post which provided much of the information and inspiration for this reflection.

Two Pocket Devotion and Prayer for Perspective © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are very welcome to use this in a worship or group setting with proper attribution.

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

Sermon Series Recordings: New Year’s Revolution

New Year's Revolution LogoSermon Series: New Year’s Revolution
New Year, New Life, New You
Claiming the Transforming Power of the Holy Spirit

Message 1 of 4: Ask, Seek, Knock
Scriptures: Luke 11:1-13
Offered 1/18/15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Message 2 of 4: Name That Demon
Scriptures: Mark 5:1-20
Offered 1/25/15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Message 3 of 4: Starving or Feasting?
Scriptures: John 6:28-40
Offered 2/1/15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Message 4 of 4: Running The Race, Keeping the Faith
Scriptures: 2 Timothy 4:7; Galatians 6:7-9; Philippians 1:6
This message was inspired by, and includes excerpts from,
the book Unstoppable by Christine Caine
Offered 2/8/15 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.

Ash Wednesday Worship Resources and Sermon Starters

ash wedensday with palmsModern Ash Wednesday Service
A simple, fresh combination of modern visuals, ancient scripture, the imposition of ashes, and the haunting song O So So.

Blended Ash Wednesday Service
Classic scriptures, hymns, and the imposition of ashes come alongside music by Chris Tomlin and Gungor.

Ash Wednesday: The Terrible, Marvelous Dust
Jan Richardson offers a beautiful and grace-filled perspective on God at work in us and our world. Post includes an original work of art and blessing.

Dust and Ashes
Steve Garnaas-Holmes offers reflection and prayer on the many meanings of the imposition of ashes.

Two Pockets: Healthy, Faithful Perspective
A reflection based on a parable by the well respected and beloved Polish Rabbi Simcha Bunim. “Every person should have two pockets. In one, there should be a note that says ‘for my sake was the world created.’ In the second, there should be a note that says, ‘I am dust and ashes.’”

Lenten Art: Reflecting Dust
A multimedia piece to inspire the creation of your own works of art for the season of Lent

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience
A set of four interactive prayer stations designed for use on Ash Wednesday. They could of course be used anytime when the themes for self-reflection and prayer include our mortality, our sorrow for our sin, and re-commitment to living in alignment with God’s holy will.
Prayer Station 1
Prayer Station 2
Prayer Station 3
Prayer Station 4

Retreat or Rejoice: Responding to God’s Presence (Psalm 114)

Detail of a photo from a set of photos of the Sinai 100 years ago.

Detail of a photo from a set of photos of the Sinai 100 years ago.

Psalm 114 NRSV
When Israel went out from Egypt,
The house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs.
Why is it, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back?
O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs?
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.

In the presence of God
Do you flee like the Red Sea?
Back away like the Jordan?
Repelled by The Holiness
Cowering amongst your own shortfall, sin, and brokenness
in the presence of The Judge

Or

In the presence of God
Do you rejoice with the ancient mountains?
Skipping and dancing like spring lambs?
Quaking with excitement at Your Creator’s companionship
Shuddering in surprise
at the deliverance
the grace
the nurture
of the Divine One
Who makes of you a sanctuary
and home

***********
Today’s featured photo and many more will be found at Go Tell it on the Mountain, a blog from the mountains of the Sinai

Retreat or Rejoice: Responding to God’s Presence (Psalm 114)
© 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.

Simple Ceremony for the Renewal of Marriage Vows

we still do
It would be easy to modify this simple ceremony for several couples renewing their vows at the same time. For example, it’s the tradition of my congregation, Trinity United Methodist Church in Sarasota FL, to offer a renewal of marriage vows every year the Sunday before Saint Valentine’s Day as part of morning worship. The couples celebrating an anniversary in multiples of 5 (5, 10, 15, 20, etc.) that year are invited to stand before the congregation while the other couples participate from the pews.

Greetingoffered by the Pastor or other officiant
God is love, those who abide in love abide in God,
and God abides in them. (1 John 4:16b)

Friends, we are gathered together in the sight of God
to bear witness to Name the Couple
as they renew their wedding vows.
We come to share in their joy and to ask God to bless them.

Declaration of Intention
In his sacrificial love on Calvary,
Jesus gave us the example of the love
between a husband and wife.

Fully acknowledging the great sacrifices and joys that have been
and those that lie ahead,
I ask you now in the presence of God
to declare your intention to remain in sacred, lifelong union with each other
to reaffirm your commitment to the covenant of marriage,
God being your helper and foundation.

Exchange of Vows
The couple may repeat the vows as they are read by the pastor/officiant or the vows may be read by the couple from a program or card.
I, _________________, give myself to you again as your husband.
to have and to hold from this day forward,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish
forsaking all others
until we are parted by death
recognizing the promise of life everlasting
and love everlasting.
This is my solemn vow.

I, _________________, give myself to you again as your wife.
to have and to hold from this day forward,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish
forsaking all others
until we are parted by death
recognizing the promise of life everlasting
and love everlasting.
This is my solemn vow.

Blessing of the Marriageby the Pastor/Officiant
Most gracious God, we give you thanks for your tender love
and for reconsecrating the marriage covenant of these couples

Grant that their love for each other may reflect the love of Christ for us
and grow from strength to strength.

Defend them from every enemy.

Let their love for each other be a seal upon their hearts,
a mantle about their shoulders, and a crown upon their heads.

Bless them in their work and in their companionship;
in their sleeping and in their waking;
in their joys and in their sorrows;
in their lives and in their deaths.

Finally, by your grace,
bring them and all of us into your heavenly home forever;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who with you and the Holy Spirit
lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The couples are invited to kiss.

**********
Renewal of Marriage Vows, compilation and adaptation
© 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.

Sermon Series Recordings: Help, Thanks, Wow- The Three Essential Prayers

help thanks wow book
Sermon Series: Help, Thanks, Wow- The Three Essential Prayers

Inspired by the book of the same name by Anne Lamott

Message 1 of 3: Help! – 3 Essential Prayers: Help, Thanks, Wow
Scriptures: Psalm 40:11-17; Matthew 26:36-39
Offered 07/20/14 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Message 2 of 3: Thanks! – 3 Essential Prayers: Help, Thanks, Wow
Scriptures: Philippians 4:4-7; Psalm 105:1-7; Isaiah 12:2-6
Offered 7/27/14 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Message 3 of 3: Wow! – 3 Essential Prayers: Help, Thanks, Wow
Scriptures: Isaiah 6:1-8; Exodus 3:4-6; Revelation 4:8-11
Offered 08/03/14 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.

© 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.