Advent Photo-A-Day: Day 25, Light

Path of Light. Photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Path of Light. Photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

The thought behind the photo:
Instead of doing an Advent Wreath in our home this year, we did an Advent Path. Today the journey of Advent is over and Christmas has come again. I’m so very grateful Christ came so long ago to make a way to God. Because of Him, anyone, including me, can walk as a child of the Light.

I want to walk as a child of the light;
I want to follow Jesus.
God set the stars to give light to the world;
the star of my life is Jesus.
In him there is no darkness at all;
the night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God:
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

I want to see the brightness of God;
I want to look at Jesus.
Clear Sun of righteousness, shine on my path,
and show me the way to the Father.
In him there is no darkness at all;
the night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God:
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

I’m looking for the coming of Christ;
I want to be with Jesus.
When we have run with patience the race,
we shall know the joy of Jesus.
In him there is no darkness at all;
the night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God:
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.
– Kathleen Thomerson

SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:78-79 NRSV
By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

The December 25, 2013 devotion from 
SCRIPTURE: John 1:1-14, CEB
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. A man named John was sent from God. He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light. The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him. But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children, born not from blood nor from human desire or passion, but born from God. The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Light is an important fixture at Christmas. We find lights on beautifully decorated tress, storefronts, churches and homes. Have you ever stopped to enjoy how just one candle—one string of lights can light up a dark room?

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.

Light is disruptive. It breaks up the darkness. It illuminates. God’s light is like that, shining a spotlight on things we sometimes choose not to see.

What parts of our lives—of our world need a bit of that light to shine? How might we be ambassadors of that light?

Like John the Baptist, how can our light point to God’s love and light in the world?

This Christmas day, embrace the light that came to us in the form of a baby born in less than perfect conditions.

Immanuel. God with us. May we go forth from this day as people who have seen and experienced that Light.

Thanks for journeying with us this Advent. A merry Christmas to you and yours.

– Your friends at Rethink Church

Thank you Rethink Church for a great way to make preparing for Christmas more meaningful. Join me and thousands more in setting aside time to reflect, focus, and literally picture the deep themes of Jesus’ birth.

Click here for more information on Advent Photo-A-Day from Rethink Church.

Click here for a master list of links to my submissions. Lisa <><

Worship Idea: The Cross Blooms

My good friends at Orange City United Methodist Church in Orange City, Florida gave me permission to post their wonderful worship idea. One Sunday during a sermon series on the cross, Pastor Drew invited each person to write a prayer of confession on a colored piece of paper. Each person then folded the piece of paper into a flower using an origami pattern. The flowers were then attached to a large cross, making it look like it was blooming. This symbolized the forgiving and redeeming power of Jesus’ saving work on the cross.

You’ll find a video of this here.

Altar Tables: Baptismal Reaffirmation and Holy Communion

In worship we encounter God through proclamation, hymnody, and fellowship.  But the encounter reaches its climax in the sacraments.  In baptism we experience living faith as the sign of initiation.  In Eucharist we experience living faith as the sign of continuation.  The Water of birth, followed by the Bread and Wine of life.- Steve Harper

The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church had their annual meeting recently. Every year representatives from across Florida gather for worship, workshops and the necessary organizational business. I bet you aren’t surprise to discover worship is my favorite part.

Ever year includes many worship services, but I was especially moved this year by the service where we had a chance to reaffirm our baptismal vows and the service of Holy Communion. So many elements came together to awaken us to God’s presence, including the altar tables. I was thrilled to receive permission to share pictures of them on the blog.

Both altarscapes were completed by Mr. Timothy Rounsaville, the Director of Worship Arts at Reeves Memorial United Methodist Church, Orlando Florida.

baptismal reaffirmation service altar tableFor the baptism scape he wanted to play with different flowy and multi-dimensional fabrics to represent water and how light is in them, catches them, how the wind moves them, and how the water flows in numerous directions. I thought his use of plastic wrap was really clever. The light caught it in beautiful ways, like flowing water. It was especially effective from a distance.

communion service altar table AC 2013For the communion scape he wanted it very organic, rustic, arid, and almost harsh with the use of burlap and dried wheat, driftwood, suede and leader. He wanted the burlap for it’s reference to sackcloth – how we come repentant to the altar to receive and leave a changed individual. Wow! I appreciate his vision for emphasizing the beauty and differences of each sacrament.

How are you preaching God’s Word visually in your worship services?

Altar Table: Words from the Cross

Altar table display depicting the words of Christ from the cross by Gail West.

The congregation of Community United Methodist Church of DeBary, Florida was blessed by the artistry of Gail West this Lenten season. Gail designed this altar table display to accompany a sermon series on Jesus’ words from the cross.

Gail West describing her work:
The seven crosses displayed on the altar represent the seven last words of Jesus Christ while on the cross. They are in rugged medium symbolizing Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. The smaller “like” crosses represent the three crosses of Calvary.

I also see…
a homespun cloth representing Jesus’ robe, the one the soldiers gambled for
twisting vines representing the crown of thorns

What else do you see?

Lenten Art: Reflecting Dust

Reflecting Dust is a multimedia work created for Community United Methodist Church in DeBary, Florida by Connie Berger and Nicole Sallee. Mediums include paper, paint, charcoal, wood and nails. It was featured recently in an Ash Wednesday prayer station.

Nicole Sallee commenting on the inspiration for the piece
It was inspired by Psalm 103. We basically used and adapted images that inspire us to that scripture. Texture was really important to us as well. We wanted the rough textures to represent who we are as sinful people and that Jesus met us in our grime and drew us to himself. It was very much a hands on, worshipful, and relational experience with our Living Savior. That’s how we roll as artists anyway 🙂 Artists that inspired us were Jan Richardson and Annie Vallotton.”

How does this piece speak to you?
Is art helpful to you in expressing yourself to God?
Or in receiving God’s expression to you?

Reflecting Dust © 2013 Connie Berger and Nicole Sallee
Please contact them directly for information and permission to publish or use this work in any form.

The image in the upper right corner is entitled First Word- Forgive Them © Jan Richardson (used with permission) Please contact Jan directly for information and permission to publish or use this work in any form

Tracing Hands

"My Hand" Collage by Kathy Barbro

On Ash Wednesday, Corey Trinkl, Director of Children’s Ministry at Community United Methodist Church in DeBary, led our preschool classes in a prayer exercise. Class members traced one of their hands onto a poster board. (One board per class.) During Lent, the preschool classes will be praying for one another by placing their hand on the hand of a person in another class. The poster boards will rotate through the different classes, staying a week in each class.

Corey’s idea started me thinking about other situations where having the tracing of someone’s hand would help focus prayer. What situations come to mind for you?

  • Praying for a sister congregation
  • Praying for students away at college
  • Praying for those who are imprisoned
  • Praying for your local firefighters, police officers, or city officials
  • Praying for a mission team while they are away
  • Praying for those who are homebound or nursing homebound
  • Praying for those who are in the midst of long treatments or recovering from surgery

The beautiful thing about this process is its flexibility. You could collect hand tracings of persons who will be lifted up in prayer or give hand tracings of those who are doing the praying.

  • What would it mean for someone to receive a poster board full of traced hands as a reminder they are remembered, loved, and covered in prayer? How about a quilt covered in hands?
  • How would an altar table cloth covered in the hands of a mission team or other group help focus the prayers of the people?
  • How would filling the hands with names, situations or images further focus prayer? (Be sure to stop by Kathy Barbro’s terrific blog, Art Projects for Kids. To find out more about today’s featured art, including instructions for creating your own hand collage, click here.)

James 5:16 (NRSV)
Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

Ephesians 6:18 (NRSV)
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

1 Timothy 2:1 (NRSV)
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone,

Colossians 1:9-10 (NRSV)
For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.

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

Little Hands Christmas Tree

My friend and colleague Corey Trinkl, Director of Children’s Ministries at Community UMC in DeBary FL, created this terrific bulletin board from the efforts of many little hands. Literally! The children traced their hands and cut out the shapes, decorated the fingers, and then Corey arranged them into this display.

There’s something about the intersection of children, creativity and Christmas that struck me as profound. Our Evergreen Creator becoming the frail flesh of a child so we might be welcomed and forgiven. That’s Good News worthy of celebration and acceptance. – Lisa <><

For more information on the CUMC Children’s Ministry, including Voices ‘N Volume, our afterschool arts program for children grades PreK-5th, click here.