The Songs of Christmas: Blessed Be the God of Israel (Luke 1.67-79)

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
November 29: Blessed be the God of Israel by Michael Perry (1942-1996)
CCLI Song # 2627452
Scripture References: Luke 1:67-79
Theme: Prophet of Promise

Blessed be the God of Israel by Michael Perry
Blessed be the God of Israel who comes to set us free
Who visits and redeems us and grants us liberty
The prophets spoke of mercy, of freedom, and release
God shall fulfill the promise to bring our people peace

Now from the house of David a child of grace is given
A Savior comes among us to raise us up to heaven
Before Him goes His herald, forerunner in the way
The prophet of salvation, the harbinger of Day

On prisoners of darkness, the sun begins to rise
The dawning of forgiveness upon the sinner’s eyes
To guide the feet of pilgrims along the paths of peace
Oh bless our God and Savior with songs that never cease

Prayer:
Fill us Holy Spirit,
as you have your faithful through the ages
Fill us with vision to see the goodness and glory to come
Fill us with truth to speak and the courage to do so
Fill us with resolve to follow the emancipated way of our Jesus:
and to help others do the same. Amen.

Additional Resources:

This hymn text is a metrical paraphrase of the “Benedictus” or the “Song of Zechariah” from Luke 1:68-79.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.

Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. 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.

Excerpt from History of Hymns: “Blessed Be the God of Israel” by Andrew Butler
Zechariah had been made dumb during his wife Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist. When he hears of his son’s birth, his tongue is loosed for his song of praise to the Lord God of Israel….

A variety of terms refer to John the Baptist in stanza two including “herald,” “forerunner,” “prophet of salvation” and “harbinger.” Perry condenses the metaphor in the canticle referring to Christ as the “day-spring from on high” and John as the messenger as the “harbinger of Day.”

The last line of the hymn—“with songs that never cease!”—would seem to be a hyperbole at first glance, but the text is a literal understanding of eschatology. Our songs will never cease in heaven.

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CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.

The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.

Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is the big idea?
    • Why is it important?
    • How does this truth connect with my life?
  • Have a conversation with God about this truth.
  • Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.

Additional Ideas:

  • Journal your reflections
  • Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
  • Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
  • Sing or listen to the song
  • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <><

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Blessed be the God of Israel reflection © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The Songs of Christmas: Savior of the Nations, Come (Matthew 1, John 1, Philippians 2)

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
November 28: Savior of the Nations, Come by St. Ambrose (340-397)
Scripture References: Matthew 1:18; John 1:10-14; Philippians 2:5-7
Theme: Christ, the Heroic Racer

Savior of the Nations, Come by St. Ambrose
Savior of the nations, come, Virgin’s Son, make here Your home!
Marvel now, O heav’n and earth, That the Lord chose such a birth.

Not by human flesh and blood, by the Spirit of our God,
Was the Word of God made flesh—Woman’s offspring, pure and fresh.

Here a maid was found with child, Yet remained a virgin mild.
In her womb this truth was shown: God was there upon His throne.

Then stepped forth the Lord of all from His pure and kingly hall;
God of God, yet fully man, His heroic course began.

God the Father was His source, back to God He ran His course.
Into hell His road went down, back then to His throne and crown.

For You are the Father’s Son who in flesh the vict’ry won.
By Your mighty pow’r make whole all our ills of flesh and soul.

From the manger newborn light shines in glory through the night.
Darkness there no more resides; in this light faith now abides.

Glory to the Father sing, Glory to the Son, our king,
Glory to the Spirit be now and through eternity.

Prayer:
All Hail our Heroic Savior, Jesus Christ
Heroic to leave perfection and glory
Heroic to choose an impoverished, bloody birth
Heroic to become frail flesh
Divine, yet disregarded, disowned, destroyed

Heroic to pioneer the path of mercy, grace, and new life
Heroic to run the race, to persevere, to win our victory
Heroic to give everything to make us whole and holy

We stand to honor and revere you
We bow in humility and thankfulness
We step out in faith to follow your lead. Amen.

Additional Resources:

Matthew 1:18
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah[a] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 2:5-7
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.

John 1:10-14
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,[b] full of grace and truth.

The hymn affirms the same themes about Jesus Christ as the Nicene Creed
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human.

***********
CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.

The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.

Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is the big idea?
    • Why is it important?
    • How does this truth connect with my life?
  • Have a conversation with God about this truth.
  • Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.

Additional Ideas:

  • Journal your reflections
  • Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
  • Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
  • Sing or listen to the song
  • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <><

************
Savior of the Nations, Come reflections © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The Songs of Christmas: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus (Psalm 34, Haggai 2, Galatians 5)

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
November 27: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus by Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Scripture References: Psalm 34:4; Galatians 5:1; Haggai 2:7
Theme: Longing for Deliverance

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus by Charles Wesley 
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to thy glorious throne.

Prayer:
Jesus, we long for you
Watching, waiting, expecting

Jesus, we long for you
You, the hope of all the earth
You, the desire of every nation
You, the key to every prison

You do not merely release the captives
You shatter the bonds of fear and sin

Come Mighty Savior!
We long for your deliverance
Take our strongholds and give us freedom
Take our numbers and give us names
Take our sentences and give us life

Additional Resources:

Psalm 34:4 (NKJV) I sought the Lord, and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears.

Galatians 5:1 (NKJV) Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Haggai 2:7(NKJV)  “And I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,” says the Lord of hosts.

From Wikipedia
In 1744, Charles Wesley considered Haggai 2:7 and looked at the situation of orphans in the areas around him. He also looked at the class divide in Great Britain. Through this train of thought, he wrote “Come, Thou long expected Jesus” based upon Haggai 2:7 and a published prayer at the time which had the words:

“Born Your people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now Your gracious kingdom bring. By Your own eternal Spirit, rule in all our hearts alone; by Your all sufficient merit, raise us to Your glorious throne. Amen.”

***********
CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.

The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.

Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is the big idea?
    • Why is it important?
    • How does this truth connect with my life?
  • Have a conversation with God about this truth.
  • Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.

Additional Ideas:

  • Journal your reflections
  • Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
  • Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
  • Sing or listen to the song
  • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <><

************
Come Thou Long Expect Jesus reflections © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The Songs of Christmas: Joy to the World (Psalm 98, Genesis 3)

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
November 26: Joy to the World by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
Scripture References: Psalm 98, Genesis 3
These are the notes from a message offered Sunday, 11/25/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Our first song is in this new message series is Joy to the World. Is it one of your favorite Christmas songs? Surprise! It isn’t a Christmas song. It’s an Advent song. Advent means “coming” and it refers to the coming of God in Jesus Christ. Jesus’ coming is understood in 3 ways

  • the first coming of Jesus as the babe in Bethlehem (Incarnation)
  • the second coming of Jesus as Lord, Judge, and King at the end of time
  • the coming of Christ into our hearts and world in the here and now

Joy to the World came into being through 3 men on 2 different continents in 2 different centuries.

  • Isaac Watts based the text on Psalm 98:4-9
    • He was frail, sickly, quiet, only 5-feet tall. (17 July 1674 – 25 November 1748, United Kingdom)
    • In his teen years, he complained to his father, a dissenting pastor, that the songs sung in church were awful and difficult to sing. His father said, “Well, you write some that are better.” And so he did. He wrote a hymn a week for the next two years and went on to write hundreds of texts.
    • It could be said Watts was writing the contemporary music lyrics of his day (Chris Tomlin of his day)
  • 100 years later in America, Lowell Mason set Watt’s text to musical fragments composed in the United Kingdom by George Frederick Handel, from his famous work The Messiah

Joy to the World by Isaac Watts
1 Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing.

2 Joy to the world, the Savior reigns! Let all their songs employ; while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy.

3 No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.

4 He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness and wonders of his love.

Psalm 98:1-9
1 O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.

2 The Lord has made known his victory. He has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.

3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.

5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody.

6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.

7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it.

8 Let the floods clap their hands; Let the hills sing together for joy 9 at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

What stands out to you from the song lyrics and/or Psalm 98?

  • Joy. Joy is very different than happiness which is based on a favorable situation. Joy is beyond situation. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.
  • Love. God’s love is faithful, unending, and sacrificial.
  • Jesus is our Savior King

Themes from Joy to the World and Psalm 98

Invitation for all people on earth and all of creation itself to join in worship and song to the Lord

  • Make a joyful noise (Psalm 98:4)
  • Let the sea roar and all that fills it, the world and those who live in it. Let the floods clap their hands. Let the hills sing together for joy. (Psalm 98:7-8)
    • What would it be like to imagine creation praising God when you hear the ocean, or the wind in the trees, or a dog bark, or someone laughing?
  • Let heaven and nature sing (verse 1)
  • Let all their songs employ; while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy (Verse 2)
    • Humans and Creation call back and forth to one another in praising God. The heavens and the earth call back and forth to one another in praise as well.

Why do we worship and sing? We’re celebrating the Lord doing “marvelous things” (Psalm 98:1)

  • The Lord is victorious (Psalm 98:1-3)
    • Victory over sin and death, shame and guilt, isolation and suffering, evil, injustice, oppression
  • Steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel (covenants and promises) and to all the people of the earth (Psalm 98:3)
  • The Advent/Coming of Jesus the Christ- first and second (Psalm 98:9)
  • Jesus Christ judges the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity (Psalm 98:9)

Celebrating and Trusting who Jesus is

  • King of Kings, King of All, King of Creation (Psalm 98:6)
    • Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; (Verse 1)
      • This is a present and future reality
    • Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing (Verse 1)
      • Jesus is King of all creation and desires to sit on the throne of my heart. Jesus is immense and intimate.
    • He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness, and wonders of his love, (Verse 4)
      • the glory of right relationship and true love in Jesus Christ are seen in and across national boundaries
  • Savior King (Psalm 98:1-3)
    • Joy to the world, the Savior reigns! (Verse 2)
      • Though Jesus is King of Creation, he knows us intimately and offers all for our salvation
    • No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found, (Verse 3)
      • Jesus our Savior King reverses the curse of Original Sin found in Genesis 3. Jesus’ grace is greater than our sin and all sin.
      • In Genesis 3 we see every relationship corrupted by sin- God and humanity, humans with one another, humans with animals, humans with the earth.
      • Jesus in his life, death, and resurrection offers us victory over sin and death, over the disorder, destruction, and disintegration of The Fall

Will you place your trust in Jesus our Savior King? He is knocking on the door of your heart. Yes, you. Just as you are. It is grace. It is a gift. He will not force his way in. Open the door and receive your King. Welcome him to the throne of your heart.

***********
CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.

The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.

Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is the big idea?
    • Why is it important?
    • How does this truth connect with my life?
  • Have a conversation with God about this truth.
  • Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.

Additional Ideas:

  • Journal your reflections
  • Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
  • Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
  • Sing or listen to the song
  • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <><

************
Joy to the World reflections © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Satisfying and Silencing: A Reflection and Prayer for Thanksgiving based on Psalm 65

silent sea psalm 65-7 b

Psalm 65:4b, 7 NRSV
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
Your holy temple…
You silence the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples.

When I first read Psalm 65, I was reminded of Thanksgiving. Verses 9-13 praise the bounty of God, the Lord of the Harvest, who provides water, flocks, and grain in abundance. This generous provision is a needed blessing for any community, but especially in a difficult environment like the desert.

When I reread the psalm, I was drawn to verse 7, especially the phrase “You silence… the tumult of the peoples.” Provision of food and water is a way God silences the desperate cries of deep need. It is worthy of thanks all on its own, yet there is more to praise. There is always more to praise. God goes deeper and further in satisfying and silencing because that’s God’s being, God’s desiring. God goes beyond “give us this day, our daily bread” to meet the needs of body and soul and community.

Praise is indeed due you, O God, for you…

  • answer prayer (vs. 2) so we are not left alone in the monkey brain, the incessant inner monologue of our questioning and worry.
  • forgive our sins (vs. 3) so we are not abandoned to the mayhem of twisted choices and broken relationships.
  • provide us a home in your family (vs. 4) so we are not overwhelmed by crushing waves of isolation. We so need the companionship and support of others, especially the wise and faithful.
  • deliver us, the deepest of need, so we are not left despairing and hopeless in the chaos of trying to save ourselves.

Prayer based on Psalm 65
Praise is due to you, Generous God,
We commit ourselves to you alone
For you answer prayer and welcome all who seek you
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence all competing and false voices
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

When sin and pain overwhelm us, you forgive and heal
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence the chaos and destruction
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

Bring us near. Raise a song in our hearts.
A shout of praise and thanksgiving in your sanctuary.
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence all apathy and skepticism
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

By awesome deeds, you answer us with deliverance,
O God of our salvation;
You are the hope of all the ends of the earth
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence prejudice, suspicion, and hate
Silence the guns of war and the rhetoric of terror
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it
You provide the people with grain, Great God of Abundance
Raise up a shout and a song of joy across the whole world
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence the cries of hunger and need
Silence the cries of injustice and despair
O Lord, open our lips, and our mouths will declare your praise.

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Satisfying and Silencing, reflection and prayer © 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information on publishing this work in any form.

Your Eternal Goodness, a prayer of thanksgiving and praise based on Psalm 65

give-thanks

Based on Psalm 65

Praise is due you, Great and Generous God
For you provide abundantly

You answer prayer, desiring an ever growing relationship with us.
Who are we that you mindful to our experiences and needs?

You forgive our sins and draw us near, close to your heart and holiness.

You deliver us from slavery to sin and death and self.
You make a way for us in the wilderness of this life,
a way that leads us home to you.
You are with us and we are with you, now and forever.
Hallelujah!

You are the light and the hope of us all.

You are mighty. You are strong.
You are awesome. You are glorious.
You are worthy of every and all praise.

You provide from the richness of your love- far beyond water and food.
Your saving bounty for all- such wonder, such blessing!
Hallelujah!

We join creation in song and celebration of your eternal goodness
Hallelujah!

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Your Eternal Goodness © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: Nothing Can Contain You, Isaiah 66.1-2

listening-by-meganne-forbesGrowing in Resilience
Day 27, Read Isaiah 66
Reflection: Nothing Can Contain You, based on Isaiah Isaiah 66:1-2, The Message

God’s Message: “Heaven’s my throne, earth is my footstool. What sort of house could you build for me? What holiday spot reserve for me? I made all this! I own all this!”

God’s Decree: “But there is something I’m looking for: a person simple and plain, reverently responsive to what I say.”

Eternal One
Magnificent and Mighty
Transcendent and Glorious
Nothing can contain You
No heart
No house
No sanctuary
No fortress
No people or plan or strategy or decree

Nothing can contain You
You need nothing
You made all that is seen and unseen
All is yours

Nothing can contain You
You are Whole
Complete

Yet, You desire something
You are looking for something
For someone
Someone real, plain, humble
Someone faith-full, hope-full
Trembling with awe and anticipation
Reverent and ready

Speak Lord, your beloved, your servant, is listening

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Nothing Can Contain You © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.