Two Pockets: Healthy, Faithful Perspective

A well respected and beloved Polish Rabbi named Simcha Bunim used to say,
“Every person should have two pockets.
In one, there should be a note that says ‘for my sake was the world created.’
In the second, there should be a note that says, ‘I am dust and ashes.’”

Rabbi Bunim went on to say one must know how to use the notes, each one in its proper place and at the right time.

He knows us well

When misused, we hunker down in one pocket and make a home
We use a note to justify, judge, and deflect self examination

For my sake the world was created- I’m all that and a bag of chips
I am dust and ashes- Eeyore is my best buddy

But, when we open to the wisdom of the notes, we accept we are not one or the other. We realize we are both notes. Both pockets. We see the wisdom of the notes in the wisdom of God’s Word which goes back and forth, naming us and reminding us who we are- beloved and dust. We are both and we need both.

I am dust and ashesWhen we are too proud, too entitled, too full of ourselves, too self-sufficient, we reach in a pocket and remember anokhi afar va’efer, I am dust and ashes
I am small
I am worthless
I am mortal
I am unclean
I miss the mark, I stray from the path- that’s what the word sin literally means in Greek
I am like everyone else who has ever lived and who will live
I need a savior

Psalm 90:3 NRS
You turn us back to dust, and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”

Ecclesiastes 3:20b NIV
All come from dust, and to dust all return.

Luke 9:41 NRSV
“O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?”

In Luke 3, John the Baptist is right to remind us we are a “brood of vipers” and of our need of repentance, to turn back to God’s path, not just with our words but our actions.

for my sake was the world createdThen, when we are discouraged, overwhelmed and losing faith (when we feel like dirt) we reach in the other pocket and remember bishvili nivra ha’olam, for my sake was the world created.
I am a unique and beloved child of the King of kings
Christ loved me enough to die for me and raise me to new life
I am fearfully and wonderfully made
I am called
I am gifted
I am empowered by the Holy Spirit to do great things for God
God is using me in the salvation and transformation of the world

Psalm 8:4-8 NRSV
What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Psalm 139:14 NRSV
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.

We stand with Jesus in our baptism, water washed, anointed with the fiery dove of the Holy Spirit, named and claimed by God as beloved children.

Jesus stepped into the water not out of his need but of ours
To remind us of our great need- I am dust and ashes
To remind us who we are in Him- For my sake the world was created

Prayer for Perspective
Eternal and Beautiful God,
The One who births us and names us
Grant us perspective
A holy centering
of truth, humility, and our belovedness

Not too high that we fall away from you
our need of you
our need of others

Not too low that we fail to trust
to reach out for you
to reach out with you

In you, with you, for you we are
humble and powerful
unique and alike
common and regal
priceless and dust

Grant us perspective, Merciful One
A holy centering
Let no voice be too loud
Or too soft
So we may persevere in faith
in hope
in following
in becoming
Amen

*********************
I am indebted to Rabbi Jack Moline for a blog post which provided much of the information and inspiration for this reflection.

Two Pocket Devotion and Prayer for Perspective © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are very welcome to use this in a worship or group setting with proper attribution.

Two Prayers Based on Psalm 19.7-14

grayscale of photo of man

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

based on Psalm 19:7-14

Prayer: Words and Ways
Your words and ways are
Perfect
Sure
Right
Clear

Your words and ways are
Pure
True
Righteous
Every one

Their value, beyond price
Their goodness, beyond delight
Their counsel, enduring blessing

Place in me a longing
To desire them
Become them
Every one

Prayer: Rock and Redeemer
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
– Psalm 19:14

Revive my soul
Make me wise
Re-joy my heart
Enlighten my eyes

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
– Psalm 19:14

Grant me holy reverence
A desire for you
And your goodness, alone

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
– Psalm 19:14

Clear me of hidden falsehood
Making way for your ways
Your innocence, reborn

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
– Psalm 19:14

********
Words and Ways © 2021 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Rock and Redeemer © 2021 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 and a Poem for World Communion Sunday

World Communion Altar Table, photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

World Communion Altar Table, photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

In the story of the feeding of the 5,000 we see Jesus once again addressing the most essential, physical needs of his fellow human beings – hunger, thirst, companionship – and once again, breaking down every socially-constructed barrier that keeps us from eating with one another. He did the same thing when, much to the chagrin of the religious leaders, he dined with tax collectors and prostitutes and told his more well-to-do hosts that “when you give a banquet, invite the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.” The English word companion, is derived from the Latin com (“with”) and panis (“bread”). A companion, therefore, is someone with whom you share your bread. – Rachel Held Evans, 5000 Companions

PRAYER: Make us your children
Heavenly One,
Your reach extends to every person, every nation,
offering grace, forgiveness, wholeness, and hope.
A saving embrace drawing us to you and each other.

Make us your children:
grateful for a place at your feast,
humble before your love and generosity,
rejoicing in the beauty of each sibling.

Make us your children:
faithful in honoring and welcoming all,
eager in sharing what we have found in you-
safety, belonging, identity,
a home of nurture and growth and sending forth.
Amen.

HYMN: Come Sup With God
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Meter 88.88 (LM)
Suggested tunes:
HURSLEY (United Methodist Hymnal #339) or
GIFT OF LOVE (United Methodist Hymnal #408)

Come sup with God all you who thirst
All you who hunger be the first
Feast on Christ’s Body and his Blood
O taste and see this meal of Love

Come children, elders, blind, and spent
Come foolish, able, indigent
Confess, repent, and then receive
Forgiveness flows abundantly

Come often, friend, for here is grace
made manifest in time and place
Christ’s mercy floods our brokenness
with healing balm and righteousness

Come to be changed. Come to be fed.
Come savor Christ, the Life, the Bread.
Drink deep the gift of healing poured
and leave a vessel of our Lord.

Sing Praise to Christ our Host and meal
Whose saving work provides the seal
for us once bound, now freed from death
to live for Christ with every breath

*************
Make us Your Children © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Come Sup with God © 2000 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia (www.revlisad.com)
Please leave a message for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

A Prayer for Restoration

abstract art artistic autumn

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A Prayer for Restoration by Rev. Macon Armistead
God our Creator, who from nothing made all things, You are the source of life and love. In You we find our deepest longing to be re-created, re-formed, and made new. Create in us, O God, a heart for love and grace. May we now lift up to You those in need of love and grace.

Say their names silently or aloud

God our Redeemer, You became flesh in Jesus Christ. You lived among us as one of us, and came near to the hurt and brokenness of our world. Through Your love and grace, You brought us into deeper community with You and with one another by restoring all creation on a cross. Redeem us, O God, so that we might find healing, justice, and forgiveness. May we now lift up to You those in need of healing, justice, and forgiveness.

Say their names silently or aloud

God our Sustainer, You hold together all life through the in-breaking of Your Holy Spirit in us. Through mighty winds and fire, or your still small whisper, Your Spirit is among us, calling us to be a part of Your mission, to continue Your restoration for all the earth. Sustain us, O God, so that we might discover Your purpose and peace for us. May we lift up now to You those in need of purpose and peace.

Say their names silently or aloud

God speak to us now. Reveal to us, Your Church, how we might be with and for another in this world, as You are with and for us. May we be co-agents of Your love and grace, Your healing, justice and forgiveness, Your purpose and peace, so that all the earth might be made new, redeemed and restored, through You — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And now, let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us, saying:
Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us as our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever.
Amen.

********
A Prayer for Restoration © 2021 Rev. Macon Armistead
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.

Exhalting Christ- a prayer based on Philippians 2

jesus mosaic from hagia sophia

Jesus Christ, mosaic detail from the Hagia Sophia

based on Philippians 2:5-11 

Jesus, you do not exploit
Power over
Power used as advantage
Power plays

You empty yourself of power’s privileges
You choose solidarity, even with slaves
You choose womb and flesh
vulnerability and blood

You welcome humility- our earthiness, our dust
You welcome the mission of salvation

You accept humiliation and torture and agony
You embrace death so creation may have new and true life

moment of silence

We exalt you, Risen Christ!
We praise you and adore you!
Your name above all names
Your story shared through all generations
Your arms open in welcome for all people

May every tongue confess, “Jesus Christ is Lord!”
May every soul receive your embrace!

********

Exhalting Christ © 2021 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.