Ash Wednesday: A Wilderness Prayer (Deuteronomy 8)

man desert path

God of the Ages
Our Deliverer and Provider
We bow in humility before your grace

You feed us with the divine
Your word
Your body

You quench our thirst with living water
A stream in the desert

You guide our feet through snares and snakes

You free us from slavery to sin and self and death

You lead us the long way to holiness and home

Test our hearts
Have we exalted ourselves?
Have we forgotten you?

time of silent reflection and confession

Reveal the truth to us, O God
Exposed by your unrelenting light
Wiped clean with your wilderness wind

Grow in us wholehearted allegiance
that our blessing and devotion may never waver
that we may always recognize and trust your desire to do us good
Amen

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A Wilderness Prayer © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Based on Deuteronomy 8:2-3; 14-16

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.

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!

A Glimpse of Glory, a reflection and prayer for Transfiguration Sunday

a glimpse of glory

I’m realizing more and more I need the rhythm of seasons. In Florida, we don’t really have them unless you count snowbird (tourist), pollen, lovebug, and hurricane. ⁠

Then I remembered I have the rhythm of the Christian year. We’re at a transition between the season after Christmas (Epiphany) and the season before Easter (Lent). ⁠

The scripture that marks this transition is Jesus’ transfiguration. Here’s the prayer that came from reading that story again. ⁠

How does the rhythm of seasons help you? Leave a comment below.⁠

A Glimpse of Glory
We bow in wonder and worship. You are Mystery. You are Holy. You are God.

You shine. You are glorious. You are Light, O Christ.
Fill us with light. Grant us a glimpse of your glory.

Save us, O God. Save us from the temptation to just stay on the mountain.

Save us from the temptation to never engage with injustice and need.

Save us from the temptation of trying to capture and control your power and glory. Save us, O God.

You give us your glory and you give us your grace. Grace to follow you up the mountain of revealing and grace to follow you down the mountain, into the valley of a different revealing.

Help us to listen. Help us to follow. Strengthen and sustain us in every place, in every way, for your honor and glory. Amen.

The Transfiguration of Jesus
Every year, Christians remember how Peter, James, and John caught a glimpse of Glory. You can read the story of Jesus’ transfiguration in Matthew 17:1–20; Mark 9:2–29; Luke 9:28–43; and 2 Peter 1:16–18.

There they were on top of a mountain with Jesus. Suddenly, he is transfigured before them. His clothes shine with a dazzling brightness no one has ever seen.

At this moment time shatters. Past, present, and future come together in holy communion. Jesus converses with Moses and Elijah, the faithful ones who came before to prepare the way.

As Peter starts making plans for them all to settle and stay on the mountaintop, a voice from above overshadows them, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”

The glimpse was just that … a glimpse … and with that, it’s gone.

Jesus’ first invitation is “Come, Follow Me.” Come up the mountain. Come experience the presence and glory of God.

The second invitation is “Come Down the Mountain.” Come experience the presence and glory of God in the needs of others.

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A Glimpse of Glory © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

A Bible Reading Plan for Lent, based on the Gospel of Matthew

brown book page

Photo by Wendy van Zyl on Pexels.com

Lent is a season of preparation leading to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter. It’s forty days long, not counting Sundays since every Sunday is a little Easter.

Many people give up something for Lent. (dessert, alcohol, bread, smoking, candy, meat, cursing, gambling, etc.) They fast a certain food or habit in remembrance of Jesus’ forty-day fast at the beginning of his ministry. Some folks use this fast to jumpstart a permanent fast of an unhealthy habit.

Other folks choose to start a holy or wholesome habit for Lent. (prayer, charitable giving, service to others, stillness, sabbath, fasting, regular worship attendance, etc.)

If you aren’t already reading scripture on a regular basis, I encourage you to chose this holy habit for Lent with the hopes it will become a regular part of your life.

Below you’ll find a Bible Reading Plan for Lent based on the Gospel of Matthew. It contains 30 Lenten readings (5 per week for 6 weeks starting on the first Sunday of Lent) plus 10 Easter readings about Jesus’ post-resurrection encounters. (5 per week for 2 weeks). These readings fit nicely in a two-month grouping.

I hope the reading plan is helpful for you. I’d love to hear how you’re using it. – Lisa <><

PS- If you don’t own a Bible, or need a translation of the Bible which is easy to read, consider using Bible Gateway. This is a free website and app with many excellent translations. (I like NRSV and The Voice) Click Here for a video demonstrating the site.

CLICK HERE for a PDF of the reading plan suitable for printing. 

Use these prompts as you read each Scripture.
ATTENTION: Read or listen to the Scripture. What word, phrase or verse captures your attention? Underline it or copy it onto a piece of paper.

CONNECTION: What connections do you see to other scriptures? To your own experience or current situation? To the character or promises of God?

ACTION: What is God inviting you to say or do? How will your life be different because of this scripture?

PRAY: Talk to God about what you just experienced or anything else on your heart.

Week 1 of Lent: March 1 – March 7

  • Matthew 1
  • Matthew 2
  • Matthew 3
  • Matthew 4
  • Matthew 5

Week 2 of Lent: March 8 – March 14

  • Matthew 6
  • Matthew 7
  • Matthew 8
  • Matthew 9
  • Matthew 10

Week 3 of Lent: March 15 – March 21

  • Matthew 11
  • Matthew 12
  • Matthew 13
  • Matthew 14
  • Matthew 15

Week 4 of Lent: March 22 – March 28

  • Matthew 16
  • Matthew 17
  • Matthew 18
  • Matthew 19
  • Matthew 20

Week 5 of Lent: March 29 –  April 4

  • Matthew 21
  • Matthew 22
  • Matthew 23
  • Matthew 24
  • Matthew 25

Holy Week: April 5 – April 11

  • Matthew 26:1-35
  • Matthew 26:36-56
  • Matthew 26:57-75
  • Matthew 27:1-31
  • Matthew 27:32-66

Week 1 of Easter: April 12 – April 18

  • John 20:1-18
  • John 20:19-31
  • John 21:1-14
  • John 21:15-25
  • Mark 16

Week 2 of Easter: April 19 – April 25

  • Luke 24:1-12
  • Luke 24:13-35
  • Luke 24:36-53
  • Matthew 28:1-10
  • Matthew 28:11-20

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A Bible Reading Plan for Lent, based on the Gospel of Matthew
© 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work with proper attribution. (by Lisa Degrenia http://www.revlisad.com) Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

An Examen in the Wesleyan Tradition by Bishop Ken Carter

light sea dawn landscape

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

An examen is a set of reflection questions that encourage spiritual honesty and growth.

Reflection is an ancient practice, with references in the Bible (Lamentations 3:40-41; Galatians 6:4-5; 2 Corinthians 13:5). Ignatius of Loyola encouraged the practice with the early Jesuits, as did John Wesley with the early Methodists.

This examen was written by Ken Carter, Bishop of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. It concludes a message, now monograph, entitled Defining and Growing an Inclusive, Gracious and Evangelical Center: The Future(s) of The United Methodist Church.

I encourage you to read this faithful, thoughtful work. Click Here for the entire message.

If you’re considering adding an examen to your spiritual practices, this would be a great choice, especially during Lent as you prepare for the victorious message of Christ at Easter. You could use the entire examen daily, several times a week, or one section each day.
– Lisa <><

Grace
I begin today by claiming my identity as one who is created in the image of God.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I am of sacred worth and am uniquely gifted.
When I come to myself—the truth of who I am—I experience blessing.
I reflect on those persons who have been a part of my life today, who have seen this in me, who have encouraged me.
Have I really been attentive to them?
Have I fully accepted their gifts?
I stay with these encounters for a moment.
I see the faces of these persons and listen to their voices again.

Repentance
Next, I see the moments of my day that I regret.
I rely upon the fruit of the Holy Spirit, especially love, peace, and patience, for help in returning to these moments.
This is uncomfortable. And yet repentance that is of God is a return to the love God wants for me.
It is the journey home.
For a moment, I consider the ways I am stuck or lost. Why do I resist change?
I ask for the courage to return to God.

Confession
As I reflect on the day, I ask God to reveal the harm that I have done to others and the harm I have done to myself.
I make an honest assessment of my failures and mistakes.
Where I have not loved my neighbor as myself, I confess that I have sinned.
What is the sin that separates me from those closest to me?
How does arrogance, judgmentalism, ego or privilege distort the way I see others?
How have I buried my birthright gifts and refused to enjoy and share them?

Faith
I ask for the gift of God’s healing and renewing grace.
I set aside my own claims of righteousness or merit.
In faith, I say yes to Jesus Christ, who loves me and gave himself for me.
I place my trust in Jesus Christ alone for the gift of salvation.
And for a moment, I consider how I am actually living by faith.
Do I find it difficult to trust?
I return to the good news that I embraced when I first began to walk with Jesus.
I ask that God would empower me to live this day in faith.

Love
God has created me. God knows me.
God’s sacrificial love in the crucified Jesus is for my salvation.
When I have received the gift of faith, I become a more loving person.
And when I have placed my faith and trust in Jesus Christ, I become a part of his body, which is the church.
I boldly ask that I will be made perfect in love in this life—
that I will love God and love the people I encounter each day in God.
I ask that my love for God would grow as I read the scriptures,
spend time in prayer and receive communion as often as possible.
I ask God to give me a greater love for others,
especially those to whom I have made promises and covenants,
and those with whom I have differences.
I ask God for the happiness is taking the daily risk of living in grace, practicing repentance and confession,
and growing in a faith that expresses itself through love.
Amen.