Prayer Practice- I Am

“I am no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God”
~ No Longer Slaves

I AM
I AM WHO I AM
The name of God given to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14)

I AM
The name so often used by Jesus
“I AM the bread of life.” (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51)
“I AM the light of the world.” (John 8:12)
“I AM the gate.” (John 10:7,9)
“I AM the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)
“I AM the good shepherd.” (John 10:11, 14)
“I AM the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)
“I AM the true vine.” (John 15:1, 5)

I AM
The name of the Victorious Christ
I AM the Alpha and the Omega
Who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty
The Beginning and the End
The First and the Last (Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13)

I AM reveals who I am
Loves who I am
Empowers who I am
Reminds me who I am
I am a child of God

Finish the sentence
I am no longer…

I am a …

I AM, Your naming and claiming are stronger than anything we face during these disrupting days⁠

Your naming and claiming are for us and for all.⁠

Your naming and claiming are forever and for always. ⁠

Glory to your Holy Name.⁠

I AM prayer practiceWe are thankful.
We are humble.
We are grateful for your great grace and your great hope.

We remember all those don’t know they’re your children.
Who don’t know they are found.

We remember those who feel unworthy of you.
Those who think they do not need you.
Those who do not know you exist.

We remember all who are overwhelmed by news and need

Break through our great need and isolation
Help us connect to one another
Help us help others connect to you.

Name those you long to come to faith…

Thank you for hearing our prayer.
You desire none should be lost.

This prayer practice was inspired by the song No Longer Slaves. CCLI Song #7030123. Words and Music by Brian Johnson, Joel Case, and Jonathan David Helser. © 2014 Bethel Music Publishing

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Prayer Practice: I Am © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
(by Lisa Degrenia, http://www.revlisad.com). Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Now Offering Online Devotions

Greetings, dear ones.

I’m doing my best to get creative so we can stay connected during our time of social distancing and quarantine. It’s hard because of the steep technology learning curve. (I refer to hard things as eating frogs!) It’s also exciting to conquer something new!

On Wednesdays, I’m offering a scripture reflection and prayer time via Facebook Live on our congregation’s Facebook Page. Join us at 8:00 am Eastern time or watch the video when it’s a good time for you.

This morning, we reflected on Psalm 27. Boy, did I need these hope-full reminders from God’s word.

On Wednesdays, I’m also offering an evening check-in time of reflection at 7:00pm Eastern time, again via Facebook Live on our congregation’s Facebook Page.
https://www.facebook.com/TrinityUMCSarasota/ 

For you folks who are into churchy words- Wednesday mornings are a type of Lectio Divina and Wednesday nights are a type of Examen. Both are very friendly to folks new to these practices.

We’re also offering worship on Facebook Live Sunday mornings at 9:00am and 10:30am.

PS- You can hear me struggling with the music on today’s recording. If you have any suggestions on a better way to provide music for these gatherings, please pass it along. The suggestion needs to honor copyright laws, such as using pre-recorded music. We do have a CCLI license.

Be safe. Be encouraged. Be hope-full. – Lisa <><

Stay Connected

 

Praying for the Pandemic (Matthew 8)

Fasting Prayer graphic

How are you doing, dear one? Really, how are you?

A friend said our situation reminded her of the polio epidemic. She told stories of the precautions and the fears and those she knew who got sick.

I have nothing to compare this to. Over and over again I find myself saying, “We’ve never been through this before.”

Folks are working so hard. There’s wonderful information on steps to take to keep yourself and others safe. Please be wise and compassionate and wash those hands!

Below are some suggestions for how to pray. That’s how I process stuff that feels big. I write prayers and pass them along hoping they’ll be helpful. ⁠

There’s, of course, no one way to pray or the right way to pray. I’m offering a way to pray using a passage of scripture as a guide. It’s a rich, long-standing practice that’s broadened both the content and language of my prayers. It also keeps me grounded in God’s character and promises.

I find this prayer practice especially helpful in times of great need, as we are in right now. I hope it is helpful for you. 

Matthew 8 found me Thursday morning as I was using the Lenten Bible Reading Plan. In this one chapter, there are five diverse stories of Jesus’ healing power. I chose this passage (or it chose me) to guide the prayer. ⁠

Let’s use this passage to guide our prayers today. Leave a comment below with other scriptures which would be helpful to guide our prayers.

Keep praying dear ones. Prayer is doing something. The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective. – Lisa <

Jesus, we see you healing the leper (Matthew 8:1-4). Hear our prayer
For the quarantined
The stranded
The vulnerable
Those feeling isolated
And those being treated as diseased outcasts
End the prejudice and mistreatment
Make us one in you
Lord, hear our prayer

Jesus, we hear the Centurion and see you healing the paralyzed servant (Matthew 8:5-13). Hear our prayer
For those feeling paralyzed
by fear
by uncertainty
by the markets

For business owners and all unable to work
For students and educators as schools close
For congregations unable to gather
Lord, hear our prayer

Jesus, hear our prayer
For those, like the Centurion, risking much to help others
Medical professionals and researchers
Health Departments, the CDC, and the WHO
Cleaning crews
First responders
Those who work in assisted living facilities and nursing homes

Like the Centurion, grant us all great faith
And the strength to ask for help
Lord, hear our prayer

Jesus, we see you healing Peter’s mother-in-law, bedridden with a fever (Matthew 8:14-17). Hear our prayer
For equal access to testing and treatment
For virus carriers and authorities to make wise choices
For an end to this pandemic

Heal all who are sick with the virus and those who will become sick
Raise them from their sickbeds to bless their homes and communities
Lord, hear our prayer

Jesus, we see you crossing to the other side to heal the Gadarene Demoniacs (Matthew 8:28-34).
Deliver us from evil, Jesus
End its destructive influence
Turn the hearts of all who use this pandemic for selfish gain

Deliver us from panic, Jesus
Help all who are struggling with their mental health
All who’s souls are screaming
We welcome your presence and peace
Lord, hear our prayer

Jesus, we see you calm the storm (Matthew 8:23-27)
The situation is beyond us, Jesus
It feels out of control and dangerous
We are swamped
We are perishing

Save us, Jesus
The waves of news and need overwhelm us
But not you
You calm the storm
You bring good out of this great need
You hear our prayer
Glory to your Holy Name. Amen.

Be sure to also check out Sarah Bessey’s Breath Prayers for Anxious Times. Grounded in scripture. Centering. Honest. 

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Praying for the Pandemic © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
(by Lisa Degrenia, http://www.revlisad.com). Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon- Stillness (Psalm 46)

Sermon Series Seeking God 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Seeking God
Message 5 of 5: Stillness
Scriptures: Psalm 46
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 2/23/2020 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of the entire contemporary worship service, including the message.

From Screens to Stillness: Challenge of the Screens, a selection from Becky Eldredge’s terrific blog
Our world drastically changed on January 9, 2007. What happened on this date? Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, stood at a press conference and announced that Apple had reinvented the phone. He said it had software for everything, the world’s best media player, the world’s best telephone, and the world’s best way to get on the web, and in addition to that, it had a camera.

Just a few months prior to this announcement in January 2007, Facebook opened its doors to all above the age of thirteen in September 2006. Later in 2007, Twitter began. Google launched the Android phone in 2007 as well. Amazon came out with the Kindle. Mobile traffic drastically increased- 100,000% from 2007 to 2014.

So much changed in a short amount of time about how we communicate, how we interact, and how we go about building relationships. An article I read once in Forbes magazine stated that on average we get 121 emails a day, and we check our phones every twelve minutes. That’s over 80 times a day! The article said that for every interruption it takes us fifteen minutes to refocus. Our brains are exhausted from continually pulling in and out of focus all day….

While there is a gift to technology, the advent of the handheld screen is impacting our bodies, our health, our creativity, our mental health, and so much more. As I follow business literature I am seeing more and more being written about the value of pausing, of silence, and of being still. Every time I read a new book or article about this, I chuckle. The “medicine” they are offering people is the tried and true contemplative prayer practices our Christian faith has lauded for hundreds of years. It’s the medicine people taught me these past two decades, and I passionately want to share with others. I believe people are longing to live a different way and to have tools to help them combat the busyness and embrace the gift of stillness and silence.

I believe this, too. In the midst of trouble, stress, need, and a big pile of work, my last instinct is to be still. God invites me to cultivate stillness as my first instinct.

I’m learning how to do this and I hope you are learning right along with me. Since we began this sermon series, I established a new morning rhythm of Sacred Reading, Scripture, and Stillness. Already it’s making a huge difference.

I am different on the days I practice my morning rhythm than when I don’t. It’s simple. It’s classically Christian. It is Biblical and available for all of us.

Psalm 46:10-11
“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge

Definition of Contemplative Prayer by Becky Eldredge, From Screens to Stillness: Embracing Silence and Stillness in the Day-to-Day
Contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition is about being still and silent with someone-God. We do not enter silence, stillness, and solitude alone. We go to be with someone.

For me, stillness is about recognizing the presence of God who is already there. This is what makes our practice of stillness different than practices outside the Christian tradition. Other practices seek answers within a person’s own self or seek to connect to larger energies or “universe.”

We seek the person and presence of God. We become still enough to realize the Lord of Hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is not angry or distant but is our refuge.

Jennifer Gehman’s Testimony. Find Jenny at www.jennygehman.com
I’m part of an online group of Christian authors know as Bookwifery. We meet for an hour on Fridays to encourage one another, resource one another and pray for one another.

Jenny and her family have been praying about a major life change for her family- moving to a new city and a new job. Her word for the year is SOAR, yet all she could visualize was an eagle protecting its young. The wings folded over, wrapped around.

It makes sense. She cares for an adult child with special needs. She also has a strong hospitality calling, so she’s constantly welcoming people into her home.

She kept going to God in stillness. The Holy Host as she describes God. This past week this is what she heard- SOAR, Sweetheart, open and rise.

Do you hear the invitation in that? The affirmation. Not condemnation or mocking. An invitation to a new adventure, a new perspective, a bigger picture. They have decided to move and take on the new job.

There are a zillion questions yet to be answered, yet as she told the story her face lit up. She was almost giggling giddy. We all felt the lift, the soar of it.

It all came from stillness. This is for all of us.

Psalm 46
God’s Defense of His City and People. To the leader. Of the Korahites. According to Alamoth. A Song.

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
    though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah

Selah-(See-lah), it’s like breath. We’re not sure exactly what it means, but we suspect it means “stop and listen.” Stop and listen to the instruments? Stop and listen in the silence? Whatever it was, it was “stop and listen to God and let this promise sink in.”

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
    God will help it when the morning dawns.
6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord;
    see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
    I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Three times the Psalmist reminds us that God is our refuge and strength. (Psalm 46:1, 7, and 11) Our Deliverer. Our Savior.⁠

Three times the Psalmist reminds us God is near. A very present help- well proved.⁠

Knowing this we can be still and know God is God⁠
I AM, exalted among the nations⁠
I AM, exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10)⁠

Knowing this we can be still⁠
⁠There’s no need to self-medicate with busyness and distraction
There’s no need to hustle for our self-worth or salvation
⁠There’s no need to fear our dependence on God
⁠There’s no need to fear what might come up in the stillness

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Knowing this about God brings us to stillness and brings us stillness.

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Sermon- Stillness © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Light in the Wilderness, a Lenten Rock Garden

Lent Garden 1

A few years ago, the good folks at Picture Lent suggested creating a wilderness rock garden as a visual reminder of the season. I loved the idea and continue to use it.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED
Sand
A tray
At least 40 rocks in a container
Tealight and holder
optional- additional symbols

ASSEMBLING THE ROCK GARDEN
Place a couple of inches of sand in the tray. I used a woven tray so I had to line it with parchment paper and place it on a solid tray.

Place the tealight in its holder on the sand. Add additional symbols if you like.

I use a mixture of rocks and shells from my travels in my garden. Use what’s meaningful to you.

Lent Garden 4 set up

USING THE ROCK GARDEN
Spend a few moments in quietness as you place a rock in the garden every day during Lent.

What does the rock mean to you?

  • Is it a burden you are releasing to God?
  • Are you marking your time with Jesus in the wilderness?
  • Is it a habit tracker for something you’ve given up for Lent or a holy habit you’ve added for Lent?
  • Something else?

On Sundays, light the candle instead of placing a rock in the garden. Every Sunday is a little Easter, even during Lent.

I’d love to hear your ideas for using the garden!