Christmas and Easter- a day and a season

manger-tomb-icon

A Christmas icon next to an Easter icon. The artist reminds us that in both stories Jesus is wrapped in bands of cloth, laid in stone (manger and tomb), visited, brought myrrh, and announced by angels. 

The most beloved Christian holy-days are both days and seasons.

Christmas

We celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day and for a season of 12 days leading to Epiphany when we remember the wise ones following the star and finding the infant Jesus. Their arrival reveals the truth that Jesus is Lord and Messiah for all people in every place.

  • The stories of the Christmas season include:
    • Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1, Luke 2)
    • The angels announce the birth to the shepherds (Luke 2)
    • The shepherds visit the infant Jesus and then spread the good news of the Messiah’s birth (Luke 2)
    • Jesus’ circumcision and naming (Luke 2)
    • The prophets Simeon and Anna meeting Jesus and his family in the temple (Luke 2)
    • The wise ones seeing the star and traveling to Herod and then to Jesus and his family (Matthew 2)
    • Herod murdering the children of the region in hopes of killing the newborn King of the Jews (Matthew 2)
    • Mary/Joseph/Jesus escaping to Egypt (Matthew 2)
    • Mary/Joseph/Jesus returning from Egypt and settling in Nazareth (Matthew 2, Luke 2)

Click here for a detailed chronology of the events between Jesus’ birth and his family settling in Nazareth.

Easter

We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on Easter and for a season of 50 days leading to Pentecost when we remember the first followers receiving the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to carry on Jesus’ witness and work throughout the world. Again, Jesus is Lord and Messiah for all people in every place.

  • The stories of the Easter season include:
    • Mary, with other women, visits Jesus’ tomb. Jesus’ body is missing. She/They run to tell the disciples, two of which come to investigate and then leave.
    • Heavenly messengers announce the resurrection of Jesus to Mary and the women.
    • Mary encounters Jesus risen from the dead and runs to tell the disciples Jesus is alive.
    • Later on Easter, the Risen Christ appears to two disciples as they are traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus. After realizing it’s Jesus, they return to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples.
    • Even later on Easter, Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room. He reveals his wounds and breathes the Holy Spirit upon them. Thomas isn’t present and doubts the disciples’ story.
    • The Jewish leaders make up a story to explain why Jesus’ body is missing
    • A week later, Jesus appears to the disciples again, this time with Thomas present. Thomas believes.
    • Jesus appears to Peter and other disciples as they are fishing in Galilee. Jesus restores Peter to a place of leadership amongst his followers.
    • Jesus appears to the disciples on a mountain in Galilee
    • Jesus appears to his half-brother James.
    • In Bethany, Jesus instructs the disciples to continue his witness and work to all people and to return to Jerusalem to pray for the Holy Spirit.
    • Jesus ascends into heaven.
    • The disciples pray and on the 10th day the Holy Spirit comes in great displays of power at Pentecost. Peter preaches and over 3000 persons place their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
timeline of post resurrection appearances

Timeline by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell. Check out her article here

Sermon Recordings- Simeon’s Song (Luke 2)

why-we-hope-why-we-sing

Message: Simeon’s Song
Scriptures: Luke 2:22-38
Offered 12/25/16, Christmas Day, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

Prayer: Rest on Me by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Holy Spirit, as you rested on Simeon and Anna, so rest on me.
Keep me expectant and open to your appearing.
Fill my speech with stories of your praise and glory.

Holy Spirit, you reveal salvation to every person. Reveal it again to me.
Shine your light on every motivation, on every hidden thing.
Pierce my soul, so nothing I say or do opposes you.

Holy Spirit, as you guided so many that first Nativity, so guide me.
Continue to point me forward; eyes open, steady and true.
Lead me to a faithful end,
so I may rest in peace forever with you, with others, and with my true self.

I trust and pray in the name of the Promised One, Jesus Christ,
my Savior and Savior of the World. Amen.

*****************
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.

sermon and the prayer Rest on Me© 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Prayer: All will be Brought to Light (Matthew 2.1-12)

vision eye see

Having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they left for their own country by another road
– Matthew 2:12

Prayer: All Will be Brought to Light
Radiant One, give us wisdom
to know when to wait and when to act
to know what to pick up and what to leave behind

The hidden will be brought to light
hidden words
hidden thoughts
hidden actions of our hands
hidden motives of our hearts

Radiant One, give us wisdom
to stand- trusting all will be revealed
to bow- knowing all will be revealed

***********
Be sure to check out some wonderful prayers based on this scripture passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes, entitled Another Road and Inward Magi.

Prayer: All Will be Brought to Light © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer: Gift Giving (Matthew 2.1-12)

gift present manger

On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. – Matthew 2:11

We bring you our gold
our achievements
our prosperity
our productivity

We bring you our frankincense
our traditions
our rituals
our urging

We bring you our myrrh
our brokenness
our grave clothes
our dust

You bring us you
Priceless
Transcendent
Eternal

Humble
Present
Vulnerable

Grace greater than our every gift

**********
Prayer: Gift Giving © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer: Rest on Me (Luke 2.22-40)

old hands baby hands

When Jesus is just a few weeks old, Mary and Joseph bring him to Jerusalem for the traditional sacrifices and rituals associated with the arrival of a firstborn son. While there, the family encounters two seasoned saints. Their persevering faith kept them open, expectant, and longing for the promised Messiah. Their names are Simeon and Anna.

This prayer is based on Simeon’s Prayer from Luke 2:22-40

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;
this man was righteous and devout,
looking forward to the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit rested on him.
– Luke 2:25

Prayer: Rest on Me
Holy Spirit,
as you rested on Simeon and Anna,
so rest on me
Keep me expectant and open to your appearing
Fill my speech with stories of your praise and glory

Holy Spirit,
You reveal salvation to every person
reveal it again to me
Shine your light on every motivation,
on every hidden thing
Pierce my soul
so nothing I say or do opposes you

Holy Spirit,
as you guided so many that first Nativity,
so guide me
Continue to point me forward
eyes open, steady and true
Lead me to a faithful end,
so I may rest in peace forever with you
with others
and with my true self

I trust and pray in the name of the Promised One
Jesus Christ
my Savior and Savior of the World
Amen

***********
Prayer: Rest on Me © 2010 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a common for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

 

Like our sister Mary, a Christmas Affirmation

mother-of-god-icon-l

Like our sister Mary, we say yes

Yes to your favor
Your presence
Your blessing

Yes that we are enough just as we are
Where we are

Yes to your calling
and the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon us to fulfill it

Yes to bearing and birthing
Your Word and your Promises and your Kingdom
in this time and place

Yes to all things being possible with you

Like our sister Mary we say
Here I am, the Lord’s humble servant
As you have said, let it be done to me
in me
through me

Like our sister Mary we sing and celebrate you
Our God, Our Liberator
For though we are your humble servants
You have noticed us

******************
This affirmation is offered for all, but especially for those who lead God’s people during the holy-days of Christmas. It can be an weary and stressful time. It’s easy to miss the wonder and grace of God’s intimate presence with so much responsibility. The stakes feel sky high. Breathe, trust, receive brothers and sisters. The promises are for you as well.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <><

Like our Sister Mary © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Based on Luke 1:26-48, The Voice translation

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Suffering Servant and Lamb of God (Isaiah 52, Isaiah 53; Matthew 27)

Jesus, The Coming Messiah
Jesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 16: The Messiah as Suffering Servant and Lamb of God
Readings: Isaiah 52-13-53:12; Matthew 27-26-31

Isaiah 53:4-5, The Voice
It was our suffering he carried, our pain and distress, our sick-to-the-soul-ness.
We just figured that God had rejected him, that God was the reason he hurt so badly.
But he was hurt because of us; he suffered so.
Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed him.
He endured the breaking that made us whole.
The injuries he suffered became our healing.

Extended quote from Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer by Richard Rohr 
The significance of Jesus’ wounded body is his deliberate and conscious holding of the pain of the world and refusing to send it elsewhere. The wounds were not necessary to convince God that we were lovable; the wounds are to convince us of the path and the price of transformation. They are what will happen to you if you face and hold sin in compassion instead of projecting it in hatred.

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 response to our crucifixions. The two images contain the whole message of the Gospel.

A naked, bleeding, wounded, crucified man is the most unlikely image for God, a most illogical image for Omnipotence (which is most peoples’ natural image of God). Apparently, we have got God all wrong! Jesus is revealing a very central problem for religion, by coming into the world in this most unexpected and even unwanted way. The cross of Jesus was a mirror held up to history, so we could utterly change our normal image of God.

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
Who accepted wounding and crushing
for the forgiveness of sin

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Who accepted beating and mocking
so we would have peace

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Who accepted whipping and torture and death
so we are healed
so we may live forever with him

Silence

The Taste of Death by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
I am held. I need to be held. I will be held.
I am held captive by downfall and falsehood
or I am held by Christ
whose outstretched arms free me from fear and captivity

Who holds me? Death or Christ?

Great Love bends low to us
Suffers with us and for us
Tastes death so we might be free

What does death taste like?
Amniotic fluid and stable hay
Breast milk and sawdust
Bread broken before sour wine
Salty tears, bitter fear
Ashes to ashes, mud pie
Blood and water served on a centurion’s spear
Linen, spices or stone?

Taste and see that the Lord is good

I am held. I need to be held. I will be held.
Hold me, Jesus

**********

Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible Reading Plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered? I look forward to your comments.

If you’re in Sarasota, please drop by Trinity United Methodist Church for one of our seasonal events or services or just to say, “Hi.” You’re always welcome and wanted.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <><

The Messiah as Suffering Servant and Lamb of God © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.