A Glimpse of your Glory, a reflection on Matthew 14.22-26

boat_on_still_water_by_crimson1d

Based on Matthew 14:22-36

The storm rages, where are you? Wave after wave crashing against us. The air is full of howling and screaming and struggle. My eyes and flesh burn with a thousand salty stings. I am blind. In the oppressive and unending darkness only the ghost of death approaches.

Your voice breaks through, “Do not be afraid.” It is you Jesus. Life not death. You are always present no matter how terrifying the circumstance, no matter how desperate the situation.

You step into our fearful and fragile boat. All is calm. A profound peace. A matchless silence. We wonder and worship, in awe at another glimpse of your glory.

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A Glimpse of your Glory, a reflection on Matthew 14.22-26
© 2017 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.

A Prayer to Practice the Golden Rule (Matthew 7.12)

key to life verticleMatthew 7:12
Jesus said, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you, for this is the law and the prophets.”

Consider using this as a daily affirmation.

A Prayer to Practice the Golden Rule
by Eusebius of Caesarea, fourth-century bishop

May I be an enemy to no one and the friend of what abides eternally.

May I never quarrel with those nearest me, and be reconciled quickly if I should.

May I never plot evil against others, and if anyone plot evil against me, may I escape unharmed and without the need to hurt anyone else.

May I love, seek and attain only what is good.

May I desire happiness for all and harbor envy for none.

May I never find joy in the misfortune of one who has wronged me.

May I never wait for the rebuke of others, but always rebuke myself until I make reparation.

May I gain no victory that harms me or my opponent.

May I reconcile friends who are mad at each other.

May I, insofar as I can, give all necessary help to my friends and to all who are in need.

May I never fail a friend in trouble.

May I be able to soften the pain of the grief stricken and give them comforting words.

May I respect myself.

May I always maintain control of my emotions.

May I habituate myself to be gentle, and never be angry with others because of circumstances.

May I never discuss the wicked or what they have done, but know good people and follow in their footsteps. Amen.

Thank you Rev. Magrey deVega, Senior Pastor of Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa, who introduced me to this prayer in his blog post.

Let me bless you, a plea for coming home based on Matthew 13.54-58

Coming-Home-Title

Based on Matthew 13:54-58, Jesus’ homecoming

I leave home
I grow
I change

But those I’ve been apart from can’t see it
They only know my past
My first shoots from the family tree
Where I began

My newness is so strangely new
My empowerment so curious
and unexpected

Yes, I am who I was
Yes, I am who I’m becoming
My dear ones, receive and rejoice in both
Let me bless you

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Let me bless you, a plea for coming home based on Matthew 13:54-58
© 2017 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.

Step Forward (Exodus 14)

stepping into waterBased on Exodus 14:5-18

Step forward? How?
To one side an impassable sea
On the other Pharaoh’s 600 war chariots thundering down upon us,
blackening the horizon

You promised new life, O God
Yes you sent signs and wonders to free us,
but now, here, we are trapped
Have you brought us this far just to die?

Your voice comes to us again through your faithful, flawed servant

Do not be afraid
Stand firm
In the midst of this trouble, see the deliverance God will accomplish
God has fought for us, is fighting for us, will fight for us
The oppressors will be destroyed
The unknown of the wilderness is better than the slavery you’ve known

Step forward
You are not trapped
You are not tricked
Step forward into freedom and possibility
Trust
Have faith
Feel the water on your feet give way to a way only God can provide
Step forward

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Step Forward © 2017 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.

Saint Patrick and Psalms of Protection

celtic-cross-cropPsalms 59, 62, 124 are all psalms of protection. This devotion is based on Psalm 59.

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
I will sing of your might; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been a fortress for me and a refuge in the day of my distress. – Psalm 59:16

Observation
In Psalm 59, the Psalmist describes living in a dangerous place. Each evening violent gangs roam the streets like wild dogs, bloodthirsty and hungry for trouble. (vs. 6, 14, 15) These enemies are pride-filled, mocking the authority’s inability to stop them. (vs. 7) The Psalmist is confident that God will stop them. God will deliver and protect. God is a shield, a fortress, and a refuge in the day of distress.

Application
Sometimes our choices place us in dangerous situations. Our action, inaction, or words play a role in the creation of enemies. Sometimes danger finds us and we are left to wonder at the cause. We experience random hate, thieving, or violence.

God’s protection is for the entirety of our lives- not just our bodies or our property. No matter what situation we find ourselves in, we seek to live a Godly and reconciling life. The Holy Spirit’s counsel saves us from the ravages of revenge, bitterness, and unforgiveness. We are empowered to take Godly action in the face of injustice and violence, to speak the truth, to heal, and to transform lives and situations. The death and resurrection of Jesus provide the ultimate shield. They may hurt us, they may even kill us, but we are safe now and always in God’s eternal refuge and home. – Lisa <><

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere when human lives are in danger, when human dignity is in danger. – Elie Weisel

It is very easy to be servants of the word without disturbing the world: a very spiritualized word, a word without any commitment to history, a word that can sound in any part of the world because it belongs to no part of the world. A word like that creates no problems, starts no conflicts. What starts conflicts and persecutions, what marks the genuine Church, is the word that, burning like the word of the prophets, proclaims and accuses: proclaims to the people God’s wonders to be believed and venerated, and accuses of sin those who oppose God’s reign, so that they may tear that sin out of their hearts, out of their societies, out of their laws – out of the structures that oppress, that imprison, that violate the rights of God and of humanity. -Oscar Romero, The Violence of Love

The Breastplate of St. Patrick
Mark Herringshaw writes: “The prayer is often called “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” because it seeks God’s protection in a world of both tangible and invisible dangers. Though Patrick of Ireland lived more than 1500 years ago his prayer asking that God would cover him is just as relevant today. Who of us haven’t wrestled with the haunting fear of living in this unpredictable world? Patrick’s solution: Run to God!”

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through the confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the Judgment Day.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous people

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of demons,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

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This post was originally part of a Summer in the Psalms Bible reading plan. In this plan, psalms are grouped based on common themes. Click the link – Psalms Reading Plan

Please leave a comment for more information the use of this devotional in other settings.

Soul Tending, a small group experience based on Luke 13:10-17

soul-tending

As you gather, move chairs into groups of three.

Welcome and Centering
ONE:
Welcome. Let’s center by taking a deep breath in, let it out. Breath in, and out. Let’s pray together.

ALL: An Invitation to Christ by Dimitri of Rostov
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.

Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.

Gratitude and Glory Sightings
ONE:
1 Chronicles 16:34 NRSV
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

Please stand and share with the whole group a word of gratitude or glory sighting from the last week. Did God teach you something or reveal something to you? Was a prayer answered or was God apparent in the midst of a situation? Did God give you the chance to bring peace or hope or share the Good News of Jesus?

Persons stand and share

God’s Word for Today
Adapted from Pray as You Go, a daily prayer app (Jesuit apps)

ONE: I’ll be reading the scripture three times. As you listen to the scripture the first time, place yourself in the story. Who are you and what are you feeling?

Luke 13:10-17 (NRSV) Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman
Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.

But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.”

But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”

When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

Pause

As you listen again, what part of the scene is affecting you most? Be brave and stay with that part. Read the passage again and then pause.

Listen to the passage a third time. Discuss your experience with Jesus and listen to what he says to you. Read the passage again and then pause.

Share your experience with your group of three. When your group is ready, continue with the prayer time, spiritual goal setting time, and closing blessing.

Prayer Time
Jeremiah 29:12 NRSV
Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.

Pray blessing over each other and for each other’s needs
Pray for the needs of your community and world

Spiritual Goal Setting
Care of Soul Question – What devotional practices are you finding most helpful in strengthening your relationship with Jesus?

Fulfilling Your Call Question – What is your mission from God and how are you fulfilling it?

Set a spiritual goal for the coming week.

In your group of three, read the closing blessing together.

Closing Blessing- Psalm 5:11-12, The Voice
Let those who run to You for safety be glad they did
Let them break out in joyful song.
May You keep them safe—
their love for You resounding in their hearts.
You, O Eternal, are the One who lays all good things in the laps of the right-hearted.
Your blessings surround them like a shield.

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Soul Tending, Luke 13:10-17 compilation © 2016 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.

Seven Ways to Practice the Lord’s Prayer

lords prayer graphic 2

1. Say the Lord’s Prayer first thing when you wake in the morning and/or as the last thing before you go to sleep.

2. Use the Lord’s Prayer as your table grace before a meal.

3. When someone shares a joy or a problem with you, pray the Lord’s Prayer together to intentionally acknowledge the saving presence and action of God on your behalf.

4. Repeat the prayer slowly in the rhythm of your breathing. Meditating on God’s Word in this fashion centers us and quiets us- body, mind, and spirit. Meditation is an essential practice in our noisy and fast paced world.

5. N.T. Wright in his book The Lord and his Prayer suggests focusing on one portion of the prayer each day of the week.

Sunday- Our Father who art in heaven
Monday- Hallowed be thy name.
Tuesday- Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Wednesday- Give us this day our daily bread
Thursday- Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us
Friday- Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Saturday- For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.

6. Darrell W. Johnson in his book Fifty-Seven Words That Change the World believes the heart of the Lord’s Prayer is the phrase “on earth as it is in heaven.” As such, he finds it helpful to repeat the phrase after each petition.

Our Father who art in heaven
Hallow your name on earth as it is in heaven
Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread on earth as it is in heaven
Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us on earth as it is in heaven
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one on earth as it is in heaven
For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.

7. Both N.T. Wright and Darrell Johnson suggest using each petition of the Lord’s Prayer as a starting point for praying for God’s transforming power in the world.

Wright says, “We live, as Jesus lived, in a world all too full of injustice, hunger, malice, and evil. This prayer cries out for justice, bread, forgiveness and deliverance. If anyone thinks those are irrelevant in today’s world, let them read the newspaper and think again.”

Thus “Kingdom come” leads us to pray specifically for places and persons in need of peace and just systems of governance and business. “Daily Bread” – access to and the just distribution of life’s essentials. “Forgiveness” for sins of omission and commission, for the redemption of personal, corporate, and systemic sin. “Deliver us from evil”- deliverance from “powers and principalities”, along with deliverance from unseen evil and the Evil One

Here’s an example from Johnson:

Our Father, your name is hallowed in heaven; hallow it on earth, in me, in my family, in this city. O Father, your kingdom has come in heaven; cause it to come on earth, in my house, in my neighborhood, in this country. O Father, your will is done in heaven; make it be done on earth, in my work place, in the work places in Vancouver and Seattle and Dallas and Mexico City and Tokyo and Baghdad and Calcutta and Nairobi. O Father, your name be hallowed; your kingdom come, your will be done on Main Street and Wall Street, as it is in heaven.