Blessing for a Ministry Event or Initiative

Sermon Series Love Your Neighbor 1110 x 624This blessing includes prayers for the initiative/event itself, the volunteers for the event, the leaders organizing the event, the resources to be distributed at the event, and any community partners helping with the event. Feel free to adapt it for your needs.

Consider offering this blessing the Sunday before the event during worship and/or at the volunteer orientation for the event.

If you are distributing a resource at the event (backpacks of school supplies, Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes, shoes and socks for the homeless, relief supplies for storm survivors, etc.) distribute them around the meeting place before the service/orientation so those present can reach them easily during the blessing.

Reader 1
Micah 6:8
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Reader 2
Lord, our needs and the needs of our community are deep and complicated. We confess they are beyond our strength, wisdom, and skill.

Yet, we accept your calling to meet these needs, to work for the common good, and to faithfully join you in your love and saving work.

Reader 1
Zechariah 4:6
Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.

Reader 2
Lord, we claim your promise and provision, believing our community will change for the better because of you working through our resolve and efforts. We accept this God-sized calling, understanding it requires sacrifice, generosity, humility, action, and fervent prayer.

Reader 3
Will all the NAME OF EVENT/INITIATIVE volunteers please stand. Please place a hand of blessing and support on those standing.

Holy Spirit, fill us and strengthen us so we may be faithful – faithful in listening for your direction, faithful in following you in your saving work, faithful to one another as we serve together, faithful in welcoming and loving those we are serving. We call on your power to bring our entire neighborhood to saving faith, caring relationship, and joyful service to one another in Jesus’ Name.

Reader 4
Grant wisdom and strength to the NAME OF EVENT/INITIATIVE coordinators, NAME THE COORDINATORS. They have planned well so we may serve well.

Second Option for Reader 4: Grant wisdom and strength to our regional/national event coordinators NAME THE ORGANIZATION and our local coordinations NAME THE COORDINATORS. They have planned well so we may serve well.

Reader 5
Please be seated

We call for your blessing and provision for the many partners who make NAME OF EVENT/INITIATIVE possible- NAME THE PARTNERS. Continue to draw us together across our community and inspire us in this holy and noble effort.

Pastor
Please pick up a NAME THE RESOURCE FOR DISTRIBUTION near you. Imagine the child/person/family who will receive it. Offer your own blessing silently or aloud.

Pause for responses

Encourage and bless the children/persons/families as they receive. Dispel anxiousness and help us to build up one another in hope and love. We ask this, trusting in the coming of your kingdom. We ask this for the honor of your name. Amen.

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Blessing for a Ministry Event or Initiative © 2018 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.

Sermon Recording- My Story, God’s Story (Titus 3, 1 Peter 3)

group conversation

Sermon Series: Hometown Missionary
Message 3 of 5: My Story, God’s Story
Scriptures: Titus 3:3-7
This message was offered Sunday, 7/22/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

The Classic Testimony- Your Conversion

Consider these helpful questions when writing and sharing the story of how you came to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Speak as you would normally speak. Keep your testimony to 2-3 minutes.

My Life Before Christ

  • What did my life revolve around?
  • Where did I get my security, identity or happiness from?
  • How did those things begin to let me down?

How I Came to Christ

  • When was the first time I heard the gospel? What were my initial reactions?
  • When and why did my perspective begin to change toward Christ?
  • What were the final struggles that went through my mind just before I accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation and new life?
  • Why did I finally decide to follow Jesus? (or deepen my commitment to Jesus, or give Jesus complete control of my life)?

My Life After Coming to Christ

  • How is my life different now? List some specific changes in your character, attitude, and perspective on life.
  • What motivates me now? What do I live for?
  • Even though my life still isn’t perfect, how does knowing Christ help me deal with that fact?

Testifying to our Hope- The stories of God at work along the journey of faith 

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) … Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean 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 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording- The Witness of Prayer (Philippians 1, Numbers 6)

prayer group hands

Sermon Series: Hometown Missionary
Message 2 of 5: The Witness of Prayer
Scriptures: Philippians 1:1-11; Numbers 6:24-26
This message was offered Sunday, 7/15/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Click Here for Bishop Ken Carter’s Story: The Gospel, a stranger, and the burnt ends of the brisket

What about this story speaks to you?

We live in a missionary age. Less than 20% of the American population actively practices the Christian faith.

So where do we begin as hometown missionaries? We begin by hanging out with people, really listening, really caring. Treat people are people, not projects.

As we share back and forth, needs are revealed. This leads to praying. Hometown missionaries need to know how to pray out loud when the moment presents itself.

1. The questions

Be gracious and humble. Prayer is never imposed or forced on someone.

  • How can I best pray for you?
  • May I pray right now? May I offer a blessing?
  • May I touch your shoulder? May I hold your hand?
  • Take your time. Make space to help the person realized God is already present. Look the person in the eye.

The witness of prayer: When I was in seminary, I was walking with a classmate. I shared a concern and asked for prayer. He stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and said, “Let’s pray now.” It was so meaningful, I still remember is 20 years later.

2. Pray out loud

A. Offer a Sentence Prayer: Name for God + Verb + Name of Person

  • Lord, help my friend Steve
  • Jesus, strengthen Lori
  • Holy Spirit, fill John with wisdom

You’ve been listening to the person, so you know the need.

B. Offer a blessing: Consider memorizing Numbers 6:24-26 (The Priestly Benediction/Blessing God gave to Moses and Aaron). Write the blessing on a piece of paper and put it on your mirror as you brush your teeth or near your computer screen.

Here’s what it means:

24 The Lord bless you and keep you;

  • May the Lord constantly bring good into your life
  • May the Lord protect you and guard all that is sacred and precious about you

25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;

  • Imagine how a person’s face lights up when they hold a baby. God’s face shines on you in the same way. This is a reminder that God delights in you. May you know how beloved you are.
  • Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting better than what we deserve. We all need grace. Grace upon grace.

26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

  • Imagine you walk into a room and a person is working at a computer. The person stops what she’s doing and looks up at you, giving you her full attention. God is fully attentive to you. God is here, already at work, already reaching out to you, loving you.
  • May you know God’s presence and peace

Remember to continue to make space after the prayer or blessing. Often, the realization of God’s presence causes the person to want to talk more, to share even more deeply.

3. Follow up – The Evidence of Prayer 

As in the story, promise to continue to pray. Follow up with the person with a written note, text, call, or Facebook message. A written prayer can be read again and again. Offer something simple- I’m praying for you. I’m here for you

When you see the person, offer something simple like “It’s so good to see you.” Leave space to let them lead the conversation.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean 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 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording- Come and See (John 1.35-42)

coffee hang out relationship

Sermon Series: Hometown Missionary
Message 1 of 5: Come and See, Hanging Out and Making Invitations
Scriptures: John 1:35-42
This message was offered Sunday, 7/8/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

When you think of a missionary, what comes to mind?

  • Special people  who are identified and sent by a congregation
  • They have a calling from God and are trained to fulfill it
  • Mature, devoted followers of Jesus Christ
  • Often leave home to go to a far off, developing country
  • Might learn a new language
  • Might bring a skill like medical training, construction experience, knowledge of water purification techniques, teaching
  • Special people who choose a life of sacrifice, poverty, and danger
    • Praise the Lord that 2 of the 3 UMC missionaries in the Philippines have been released. Continue to pray for the release of Miracle.

Missionaries fulfill the great commission literally- They Go!

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Lo, I am with you always to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20 

Our job in fulfilling the great commission is to recognize and affirm their call, to support them in their training and mission work with our prayers, our money, and by sending supplies. Occasionally we might go on a short-term mission trip, but they stay “in country.”

This model no longer works. The world has changed. America has changed. America is now a missionary territory.

In the story of my family, there are 5 generations without faith in Jesus Christ. That’s 100 years.

We now live in Post Christendom America. Christianity no longer has preferential treatment in our society. It’s sometimes subtle and sometimes it’s downright hostile.

  • 24/7 work week + increased workloads, the need for 2 income families, job plus a side hustle, jobs in retirement
  • So many options for how to spend our time and money
  • So much pressure to raise “well rounded” kids who are committed to sports plus arts plus making great grades

Many of us came to faith when all you had to do was build a church and people would come. It was part of the culture.

How many of us trained to be missionaries? Very few! Therefore there is no shame in not knowing how to do this. We’ll spend the next few weeks reclaiming the missionary heart, prayers, and practices of our spiritual ancestors.

Take a breath. It’s ok if this is new for you, even uncomfortable. It is for me as well. I’ll be learning and trying out new things right alongside you. God’s power will be made perfect in our weakness.

So where do we start? We start simple just like they did in Bible times. We hang out with people. We build a relationship, build trust. Be a great friend. Care about folks with no agenda. God will open the door for deeper discussions.

Read John 1:35-42

Understand Who You’re Hanging out with/Inviting

This pie chart helps us understand the US population’s relationship with Christ and his church. Different groups are best reached in different ways

pie chart us population relationship with christ

Group 1 = Green and Gold Areas of the Chart

These persons have firsthand experience with words and ways of Jesus. (Scripture, Prayer, Holy Communion, Serving Others). They know church language, are comfortable in a sanctuary and in worship, and are comfortable around other Christians.

  • Dark Green (10%) name themselves Christians, have a church home, and are active participants one or more times per month.
  • Light Green (10%) name themselves Christians, have a church home, and are active participants less than once per month but more than just Christmas and Easter.
  • Gold (20%) name themselves Christians, have had a church home in the past but not currently, and are open to reconnecting to active participation with a congregation.

Group 1 Invitations = Come and See  

  • Easy to hang out with persons in this group because we have so much in common
  • Because of their experiences, you can invite these persons directly to church activities and worship

Group 2 = Orange area of the chart (20%)

These persons also have firsthand experience with words and ways of Jesus but are now uncomfortable at a church and around other Christians. They may have been hurt by a church experience. They may be angry at the church or at God. They may be ashamed of something or just adopted new priorities. They are closed to reconnecting with a congregation and maybe even faith itself.

Group 2 Invitations = We’re different

  • This takes much more prayer and relationship building.
  • Help persons discover our congregation is different from the hurtful one they previously experienced.
  • Different might mean relationships, theology, style, values, motivation, and/or goals.
  • Build trust, pray, and invite them to meet other Christians or try inviting them to events which will meet felt needs

Group 3 = Blue Area of the Chart (40%)

This represents persons who have little to no experience with the words and ways of Jesus. If the orange group is done, the blue group is none. All they know about Christianity is from TV, movies, and novels. (how often is that accurate?) They may have never stepped foot into a sanctuary. Coming to worship might feel like walking on Mars. They may not have had a Christian in their family or friends for generations, have never had a Christian in their family/friends, or even know a Christian.

For me, the longer I am a Christian, the fewer people I know in this group. I need help in this area.

Group 3 invitations = Go!

  • Reaching persons in this group is similar to foreign mission work.
  • It’s about cross-cultural relationship building on their turf rather than the church campus.
  • Invite them to out for coffee or for a meal, activity together

Your mission should you choose to accept it: Make space to hang out with people. Be a real friend. Really care. No agenda. Listen deeply. Be consistent. Treat people as people, not as a project.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean 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 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

A Prayer for True Strength, Based on Ephesians 6

armor of God graphicFinally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. – Ephesians 6:10-11

Lord, you call us to mighty works
Sharing your Word
Helping others find you
To leading
Healing the sick
Caring for the poor, the orphan, the stranger
Speaking truth to power
Praying without ceasing
Building your kingdom on earth

Lord, you have said that in this world we will have trouble,
but take courage, I have overcome the world

We try to do things in our own strength
Our financial security
Our connections
Our achievements
Our expertise
Our stiff upper lip and bootstraps and big girl pants

We head into battle wearing our own armor
Or trying to borrow someone else’s

We fall victim to human ways
And the ways of our Enemy

Forgive us
Forgive us and renew a right spirit within us

Clothe us in your armor
Your armor alone
Clothe us in your truth
Clothe us in your righteousness
Clothe us in your Gospel of Peace
Your faith
Your salvation
Your Word
Your powerful Presence

That we may stand
That we may stand and withstand
That we may stand and withstand and stand firm
Strong in you and the strength of your power
For your power is made perfect in our weakness
In our vulnerability
In us claiming our need of you

For the victory and glory are yours,
Nothing can separate us from you
Not now
Not forever
Hallelujah!
Amen

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A Prayer for True Strength © 2018 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 of Praise and Thanksgiving for the Thai Cave Rescue

Thailand Cave Rescue

Merciful and Mighty God, we rejoice with people all over the world for the rescue of the boys and coach from the cave in Thailand. May your name be glorified for the miracle of their survival, the heroic efforts of their rescuers, and a world in prayer for their deliverance.

We see you at work in the cooperation and compassion of so many. We see you at work in the perseverance and sacrifice of the rescuers. We especially remember the Thai diver, Saman, who lost his life in this valiant effort. There is no greater love than to lay down your life for another.

Thank you for the evidence that we live in a world where so many care about strangers in dangerous situations. Thank you for creating us in your image so we may honor and value one another no matter where we are from. Thank you for inspiring us and empowering us to live the fullness of your saving love. Hallelujah! We praise you and honor you in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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A Prayer for the Thai Cave Rescue © 2018 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.

Sermon Recording- Stand (Ephesians 6.10-18)

feet with shoes

Message: Stand
Scriptures: Ephesians 6:10-18
This message was offered Sunday, 6/24/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Imagine walking through the grocery store. You and others are picking out their food as usual. Now imagine every person you encounter is wearing a sign revealing the truth of their life

  • New baby, no sleep for three nights straight
  • Caregiving for a sick spouse
  • Just lost my job
  • Grieving the death of my mother
  • Desperately lonely, how do I make friends?

All of a sudden, that trip to the grocery store is very different. You are seeing what is often difficult to see.

What would be on your sticker?

The truth is we must always be kind, we must always be compassionate because we never know what someone else is going through.

The trust is that when we face trouble there’s far more to it than what we can see on the outside.

Think about a time when you were going through something deep and dark,  something scary. something you have never faced before, or something that’s raising it’s ugly head again. There’s the stuff that you can see, but there’s the stuff you can’t see

  • emotional toll
  • mental exhaustion
  • weariness down to your bones

Then there’s your soul. What is going on with your soul?

Our soul is like an inner stream of water that gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other area of life.– John Ortberg, Soul Keeping

In the midst of this trouble, is this stream of living water getting stopped, dammed up? Is it changing the direction? Is it going deeper than you could ever have imagined?  Is it drying up, like a desert, like a wilderness?

The song I cling to in the midst of trouble: Precious Lord take my hand. Lead me on. Let me stand. I am tired. I am weak. I am worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

What gets the water flowing in my life is singing. And sometimes I can’t even get the words out and so I just let my soul sing.

What gets the water flowing again for you? Because when we face trouble its far than what we can see.

Sometimes we can see the source of the trouble

  • We’ve brought it on ourselves. The trouble is the consequence of a choice we made.
  • Sometimes its someone else’s choice. They want what they want and we’re an obstacle (through us) or a means to an end (use us). Or we just get caught it the backwash of someone else’s sin, the ripple effect and we’re collateral damage.
  • Or it’s the reality of living this side of heaven, the reality of living in a broken world. The Fall due to Original Sin is a universal condition. Every relationship is broken -with God, with others, with our true self, with the earth. It’s a reality on an individual level, group level, and systemic level.

There are times we can see the source of the trouble and there are times we cannot see it.  It’s far deeper. It’s plain old evil and an Evil One. It’s a cosmic organized struggle against God and the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 

  • We try to be strong on our own. This is not a battle we can win on our own and it’s not a battle we have to win on our own. That’s the grace of it. That’s the Good News of it.
  • Yes we play a part, we make choices, work, and strive but it is also about allowing ourselves to be strengthened by Almighty God. We can refuse or choose the strengthening. (Cooperating and collaborating with God)

Ephesians 6:10 Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God

  • Sometimes life feels like a battle. God wants to strengthen you and protect you.
  • We try to be strong on our own and we try to protect ourselves
    • Put on our own armor – financial security, connections, achievement, expertise, stiff upper lip, my big girl pants

It’s like David going out to fight Goliath, the giant. (That’s how our troubles can feel. King Saul wants David to wear his royal armor, his human armor. It doesn’t fit, doesn’t work, weighs him down. David refuses and faces Goliath in God’s armor.

So much of what we are facing is beyond us, something we just can’t fix in our human strength.

Ephesians 6:10 Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God

The Whole Armor of God – Verses14-17

  • belt of truth
    • God helps us to know what is real and not real
    • God helps us hold on to perspective in the midst of pain
  • breastplate of righteousness
    • covers our heart so we stay in right relationship and have a heart of peace
  • shoes for your feet, make you ready to proclaim the Gospel of peace
    • The Gospel of Peace is the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace
      • who Jesus is, his sacrifice, his salvation, his hope and healing, power, and promises
    • Jesus is the foundation, the strong rock on which we stand
    • Stand on the power of story = Jesus’s story intersects our story, thanksgiving and testimony to God’s goodness in the past and in the present
  • shield of faith to quench the flaming arrows of the evil one
    • Evil One takes sniper shots after us, feels like we’re taking hit after hit after hit
    • Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1)
  • helmet of salvation 
    • Who I am in Christ- I am a child of God, I am beloved and blessed of God, I am made in the image of God and nothing can separate me from the love of God and my salvation in Jesus Christ
    • Know God’s voice and hear God’s voice. If I can’t hear it my brother or sister in Christ will speak it to me.
    • My mind stayed on the goodness of God no matter the circumstance. Nothing changes the goodness of God.
  • sword of the Spirit which is the word of God
    • Why we must read the word of God regularly
  • Ephesians 6:18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. It is always scripture and prayer. Always and forever.        

Call to action- Prayer Care

  • Pray with you after every service: Sundays after the 9:00 am and 10:30 am services, Wednesdays at 8:00 am, 10:00 am, 7:00 pm
  • Become a prayer keeper  

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Withstand = take the hit, persevering, enduring, resilience

Stand Firm = push back against evil

The Evil One is our real and primary enemy – not other people, not ourselves, not God, not the system.

  • The Evil One devours and destroys and steals
  • The Evil One is a deceiver and liar
  • The Evil One twists situations into something they were never meant to be

That’s why we need truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the word of God and pray, pray, pray. When we face trouble there’s far more to it than what we can see.

You are not alone. You are never alone. You do not have to face it in your own strength. Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean 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 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon and prayer © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.