Prayer: For Yours Alone (Mark 16)

speak witness good news

Based on the short ending of the Gospel of Mark, The Voice Translation
Later, Jesus himself commissioned the disciples to take the sacred and eternal message of salvation far to the East and the West.

Your message is sacred
Holy, Set Apart, Treasured

Your message is eternal
Timeless, Lasting, a Firm Foundation

Your message is salvation
Deliverance, Wholeness, Grace

We bow before your commission to receive and bear your message into the world

Show us when to speak and give us the words
Never for our agenda, for yours alone

Show us what to do and give us the strength
Never for our achievement, for yours alone

Show others we are from you by your power at work through us
Never for our glory, for yours alone

For Yours Alone © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

You are welcome to use this prayer in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please leave a comment to contact me directly for publishing and posting consideration.

Sermon Recording: Camels, Needles and Who Shall be Saved (Mark 10:17-27; 1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Needle Gate, Camel Pose, Needle and Thread

Needle Gate, Camel Pose, Needle, and Thread

Message: Camels, Needles and Who Shall Be Saved
Scriptures: Mark 10:17-27; 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Offered 4/19/15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

I’m indebted to my friend Martha Mackey for sharing with me how the camel pose in yoga opened this passage of Scripture for her.
camel pose 1-4

Mark 10:17-27 NRSV
17 As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments:’You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

1 Timothy 6:17-19
17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

Dear God, I am so afraid to open my clenched fists! Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to? Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands? Please help me to gradually open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me. And what you want to give me is love, unconditional, everlasting love. Amen. – Henri Nouwen

A reflection on this passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes entitled Who Can Be Saved?

Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by you or laid aside for you,
Exalted for you or brought low for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
You are mine, and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. 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.

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

Peace, Be Still: Five Prayers Based on Mark 4:35-41

“Calming the Storm” by Jim Janknegt. Used with permission.

Mark 4:35-41 NRSV
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Prayer by Junius Dotson, The Africana Worship Book, Year B
You who are weary

Do not be afraid!

You who are fed up

Do not be afraid!

God is present in your suffering.
God will calm the winds and waves of your soul!

Prayer by Patricia Wilson, Quiet Spaces
Ever-present God, thank you for being here with me right now.
In the chaos of my life, I often forget that you are always with me,
always seeking to bring me peace. …

I feel overwhelmed, as if the world around me
is a heaving, crashing sea;
and I am adrift in a small boat,
unable to keep the waves from closing over me.

Only you can bring order out of this chaos.
Say the word, All-Powerful God,
and I know that the seas will be calmed,
and I will be safe.

Even as I say these words,
I can hear how foolish they are.

You, the God of my life, are also the God of order.

Bring order to my life, and in doing so,
take care of all those concerns that rise up
around me like storm waves.
Calm the seas of my busyness;
still the waters of my “doingness.”
Let me drift on the gentle swells of your love and care.

Prayer by Mark Dugger, devozine, November/December 2012
Peace. Be still. And the winds obeyed.
Be now as the winds.
You are my child.
I knew you long before you were knit in your mother’s womb.

Peace. Be still. My breath brings form to dust.
You were created a little lower than the angels,
created in my image.
You are my child. Peace. Be still.

Be as these winds, exhaled.
Wait on me, and I will give you rest.
The ninety-nine I would leave to find you.
The fall of a sparrow catches flight in my loving eye.

With my words, the worlds were.
My voice is small, still.
The waters know the sound of my voice and are stilled.
Wait on me, be renewed, and rise.

Calm the Storm in Me by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
The words in regular print are spoken by one voice.
The words in bold print are spoken by all.

When the waves rise high above our ability to see your face…
Still my soul, Lord Jesus,
Calm the storm in me

When the howling wind and the pouring rain drown out the sound of your voice…
Still my soul, Lord Jesus,
Calm the storm in me

When the thunder and the lightning distract us from Your presence in every circumstance…
Still my soul, Lord Jesus,
calm the storm in me

A Prayer for Storm Survivors by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
The words in regular print are spoken by one voice.
The words in bold print are spoken by all.

Jesus, we see you calming storms-
storm tossed seas and stormy lives.
Extend your power and grace again,
especially upon these most recent storm victims.
Speak peace and healing over bodies and spirits broken by the chaos.
Jesus, speak peace.

Speak peace and hope over families and communities devastated by sudden loss.
Jesus, speak peace.

Speak peace and unity over diverse groups of people
so they would come together for greater provision,
just distribution, and effective rebuilding.
Jesus, speak peace.

Speak peace and protection over rescue workers
as they reach out to those who are suffering.
Jesus, speak peace.

You are the Prince of Peace.
You are the Resurrection and the Life.
You are strong to save.
Our hope and trust are in you. Amen.

Click Here for Prayer: In the Midst of the Storm, a longer prayer sequence using elements of A Prayer for Storm Survivors and Calm the Storm in Me plus optional sung responses.

For more wonderful, moving work by today’s featured artist, James B. Janknegt, click here. Please consider patronage of him and other artists.

For a reader’s theatre version Mark 4:35-41, click here

A Prayer for Storm Survivors © 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Calm the Storm in Me © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use these works in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish these works in any form.

Reader’s Theater: Jesus Drives Out an Unclean Spirit (Mark 1:21-28)

A Demoniac in the Synagogue by James Tissot

A Demoniac in the Synagogue by James Tissot

Reader’s Theatre: Jesus Drives Out an Unclean Spirit
Based on Mark 1:21-28 (NRSV)
Parts: Narrator One, Narrator Two, Man, Jesus
With optional singing

Jesus and his followers went to Capernaum.
When the sabbath came, Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.
They were astounded at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit,

MAN – Crying out
What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are, the Holy One of God.

JESUS- Rebuking him
Be silent, and come out of him!

NARRATOR ONE- MAN cries out as crying is referenced
And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.

Optional- Instrumentation begins and continues through the singing of the song.

They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another,

What is this? A new teaching—with authority!
He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.

At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

I’m so Glad Jesus Lifted Me
The Faith We Sing #2151

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.

I’m so Glad Jesus Lifted Me. African American Spiritual, Public Domain
Found in The Faith We Sing #2151

Reader’s Theater: Jesus Drives Out an Unclean Spirit (Mark 1:21-28)
© 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.

Mark Day 14: Worship Fully

Freedom by Froyle Neideck

Gospel of Mark Reading Plan
Day 14 Reading:
Mark 14

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.”
– Mark 14:6 (NIV)

Mark 14:1-9 The unnamed woman who blesses and anoints Jesus a few days before his death, teaches us three important things about worshipping fully.

1. Intimate Reverence
Worship is a response to who Jesus is and what he has done for us. They know each other but we don’t know how. Had Jesus healed her? Did she hear his teaching a decide to follow? What we do know is that she dares to touch him. She comes close. She is totally focused on Jesus. Her goal is to bless him. She is looking for nothing in return. She is intimate, yet her actions are reverent, full of respect. She models the right balance. Intimacy needs reverence or its just gushy emotion. Reverence needs intimacy or worship becomes cold, mechanical and detached.

2. Unashamed Abandon
Worship is about outpouring, overflow. It’s Miriam and the women celebrating the liberation of the slaves with tambourines and singing. It’s David dancing in the street with abandon as the Ark of the Covenant is finally safe and in the midst of the city so all may come and worship. It’s the woman breaking into the party and breaking into the circle where Jesus was seated. Crack. Shatter. She boldly breaks open the alabaster jar, pouring out the perfume, her heart, her adoration, her passion, her gratitude. Those gathered are going to see it, hear it, and smell it. She holds nothing back. She makes no excuses. She is focused on blessing Jesus, not what others might say.

3. Extravagant Sacrifice
Worship is more than just what we can get from God. Yes we received when we worship, but to worship fully we must focus on giving to God, blessing God, adoring God. In the ancient world you didn’t show up to worship without a sacrifice- an animal, a drink offering, or a grain offering. Your motivation for the offering was also critical to acceptable worship. Worship isn’t consumer driven. From a consumer perspective, true worship is an impractical, extravagant “waste” of time, energy and resources. The alabaster jar was full of very expensive, rare perfume. The woman does all that she can. She gives her best; her most prized possession. The onlookers say it’s a waste- throwing away her time and money. Jesus says no- it is a beautiful thing and it will be remembered.

What am I bringing to worship as an offering and blessing to Christ?

Our love for God is tested by the question of whether we seek Him or His gifts.
-Ralph W. Sockman

Some people want to see God with their eyes as they see a cow, and to love Him as they love their cow- for the milk and cheese and profit it brings them. This is how it is with people who love God for the sake of outward wealth or inward comfort. They do not rightly love God when they love Him for their own advantage. – Meister Eckhart

Imagine how awful it would feel to have your child say to you, ‘I don’t really love you or want your love, but I would like m allowance, please.’ Do you love this God who is everything, or do you just love everything He gives you? Do you see and know God as Abba, Father?”- Francis Chan, Crazy Love

Glorious One, heal our stingy, greedy ways.
Teach us to worship you with abandon.
Draw us into intimacy and extravagance,
Unashamed and alive with praise.
Free us for joyful obedience,
through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

For an original poem based on this text, click here

For Froyle Neideck’s description of his powerful worship painting Freedom, click here


For more information on the Gospel of Mark Reading Plan, click here

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