Retreat or Rejoice: Responding to God’s Presence (Psalm 114)

Detail of a photo from a set of photos of the Sinai 100 years ago.

Detail of a photo from a set of photos of the Sinai 100 years ago.

Psalm 114 NRSV
When Israel went out from Egypt,
The house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs.
Why is it, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back?
O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs?
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.

In the presence of God
Do you flee like the Red Sea?
Back away like the Jordan?
Repelled by The Holiness
Cowering amongst your own shortfall, sin, and brokenness
in the presence of The Judge

Or

In the presence of God
Do you rejoice with the ancient mountains?
Skipping and dancing like spring lambs?
Quaking with excitement at Your Creator’s companionship
Shuddering in surprise
at the deliverance
the grace
the nurture
of the Divine One
Who makes of you a sanctuary
and home

***********
Today’s featured photo and many more will be found at Go Tell it on the Mountain, a blog from the mountains of the Sinai

Retreat or Rejoice: Responding to God’s Presence (Psalm 114)
© 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.

Psalm 107- The Path of Addiction and Recovery (Psalm 107:17-22)

group-of-people-walking-path-woods
Psalm 107 describes different groups of people who experience God’s steadfast, saving action in their lives. When I read verses 17-22, it reminded me of God’s saving action as I travel the path of recovery from addictive behaviors, recovery for myself and so many I love and serve.

Psalm 107:17-22 NIV
Some became fools through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities
They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and he saved them from their distress
He sent out his word and healed them
He rescued them from the grave

The path of addiction begins with pain
Pain from our own foolish, impulsive, rebellious, selfish choices
Pain from getting caught in the backwash of the destructive choices of others
Pain from just living in a broken, disordered world

We reach for things to take away the pain
Chocolate to Cocaine to Porn to 70 hour work weeks to Amazon to Netflix to Nintendo
Bingeing and Self-medicating and Burying
We lose our appetite for the good things of life
We look to these behaviors as salvation, but they actually bring us suffering
They take us to the very gates of death

Friends, there is hope
There is the good news
Anyone can cry out to God and God will hear
We can turn to God and God’s path of recovery
God’s love and strength are unfailing- even when we fail ourselves

God saves
Salvation means wholeness, healing
But it takes time
God does not wave a wand for a cosmic quick fix
God does not hand us a divine get out of rehab free card
Instead, God is steadfast in walking with us and working with us
Recovery is a journey, not a jump

God sends forth His word- creative, life-giving
A new story for our lives
A new truth for our lies
Instead of medicating and burying the pain
We face our pain and begin to heal
We are called forth into the light like Lazarus from the tomb
God rescues us from the grave of our downfall and disease

How do we respond to the grace of God’s transforming action in our lives?

Psalm 107:21-22 NIV
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind
Let them sacrifice thank-offerings
and tell of his works with songs of joy

Gathering together for worship and testimony are mile-markers on the path of recovery
Receiving and offering prayers of thanksgiving
Receiving and offering songs of celebration and joy
Receiving and offering the ongoing testimony of God through scripture
Receiving and offering the the ongoing testimony of God’s healing power in our lives
Receiving and offering support to one another in word and deed
In short, celebrating and sharing what we have found in our faithful God

Prayer: Shine Jesus Shine
CCLI Song # 30426
Graham Kendrick © 1987 Make Way Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)

Lord the light of Your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness, shining;
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us,
Set us free by the truth You now bring us,
Shine on me, Shine on me.

Lord, I come into Your awesome presence
From the shadows into Your radiance;
By the blood I may enter Your brightness,
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness.
Shine on me, Shine on me.

As we gaze on Your kingly brightness
So our faces display Your likeness,
Ever changing from glory to glory,
Mirrored here may our lives tell Your story.
Shine on me, shine on me.

Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father’s glory;
Blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire.
Flow, river, flow,
Flood the nations with grace and mercy;
Send forth Your Word, Lord and let there be light.

***********
For more information on Christian Recovery Programs, check out Celebrate Recovery. If you live in the Sarasota, Florida area, know you have help and support in many congregations, including Trinity United Methodist Church where I serve as pastor.

Psalm 107, The Path of Addiction and Recovery © 2015 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.

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

Prayer: You Save Us From Every Foe (Psalm 44:6-8)

Detail of the sculpture Fiducia in Dio (Trust in God) by Lorenzo Bartolini

Detail of the sculpture Fiducia in Dio (Trust in God) by Lorenzo Bartolini

Psalm 44:6-8 NRSV
For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes,
and have put to confusion those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever.

You save us from every foe
Those whose face we never see
Those whose face we know too well
Those without and within

You save us from every foe
Even ourselves – our own worst enemy
Who so easily misplace trust in who will save
Who can save

Who can save?
You save us from every foe
Order our minds
Our desires
Our thoughts
Order the work of our hands
The agenda of our days
Order our trust and our hope
To what is true
To you

Lord, we do not hope in ourselves, our technology, our governments, our laws, our tenacity, our courage, or our will, though all these things are all necessary to conquer hunger and provide justice. We hope in you. Amen.
– Thomas G. Petterpiece, Visions of a World Hungry

The man of the true religious tradition understands two things: liberty and obedience.
The first means knowing what you really want.
The second means knowing what you really trust.
– G.K. Chesterton, G.K.’s Weekly

*********
You Save Us From Every Foe © 2014 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.

Prayer: The Hidden Net (Psalm 31.1-5)

 

frodo captured by spider

Frodo captured by the spider, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

 

Psalm 31:1-5 NRSV
In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

There is a net that is hidden
It lies in the shadows
Blends into the background
Covert
Camouflaged
It waits patiently

It is just for me
It knows my weakness
Seizing my energy
Ensnaring me in falsehood
Entangling me in triggers
Wrapping me like a fly in a web
Sticky and shrouded in doubt and despair

Deliver me, my Refuge
Hear my cry, my Rock
My Righteous Redeemer

Through the power of your Son and Spirit
Liberate me from this entombing trap
Free me to your will and way

I seek You
You alone
Into Your hand, I commit my spirit

*************
When I first read this Psalm, I imagined a fishing net hidden in murky water. The feelings of entrapment and terror took me to the scene from Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King when Frodo loses his way in the shadowy cave and is captured by the spider’s deadly web.

In the midst of his greatest need, Frodo is both swaddled like a baby (birth) and wrapped like a mummy (death). Sam, his faithful companion, later delivers him, for he was not himself and could not save himself. How like the deliverance of our faithful God, who companions us and champions us. Consider Lazarus bound for death but called forth from the tomb by Jesus, the victorious resurrection of Jesus himself, and the promise of new life for all who believe. (Romans 6:3-4) – Lisa <><

Prayer: The Hidden Net © 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 to publish this work in any form.

Blessing the Calling

anointing confirmationPsalm 133 (NRSV)
How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing, life forevermore.

Precious oil
A luxurious, extravagant outpouring
Running, skipping upon your head
Flowing down your face
Pooling on your clavicle
Seeping into your bones
Signifying to all your calling
Reminding you of you
God’s chosen instrument
God’s anointed beloved
God’s fragrant presence
Being made holy
and whole
Overflowing with all that you have found
With all that has found you
Bearer of Blessing
Forevermore

*************
For a devotion and prayer based on Psalm 133 entitled Psalms of Peace, click here

Blessing the Calling © 2014 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.