Help me Pick a Cover Color

Greetings Dear Ones!

Things have been quiet here for several months. I hope you’ve been able to find some meaningful worship resources using the search box.

Several things have kept me away, including working on a guided spiritual journal. This journal is specifically designed for folks taking a pilgrimage to the Holy Land or other location found in the scriptures.

I’d love your help choosing a color for the cover of the journal. The title, photos, and layout are finalized, but not the color. Leave a comment below with your favorite choice. I’d also love to know why this one is your favorite.

Peace be with you – Lisa <><

Three Prayers for Ukraine

Benn-(Benejou-Rabinowicz--1905-89)--Psalm-120-7_900

Psalm 120:7 “I am for peace, but when I speak they are for war” From a French publication of paintings by Benejou Rabinowicz based on the Psalms entitled Benn

PRAYER: Hear Our Cry
Holy One, we recognize the deep pain of our world, in Ukraine and so many other places.⁠ We join those who mourn the tremendous loss of life and home, those who mourn the loss of freedom. ⁠

ALL: Holy One, we trust you weep with us. ⁠Your healing, saving work continues. ⁠

Hear our cry for those running to a new home in a new place. Bless and provide for all who are welcoming the refugees, especially the children separated from their parents. ⁠

ALL: Holy One, we trust you welcome them. ⁠Your healing, saving work continues. ⁠

Hear our cry for those resisting the destruction and violence of the invasion, for those in Russia and Ukraine pushing back against evil, revealing truth from falsehood, for those trained to lay down their lives for love and justice and for civilians taking up arms to defend their beloved land.

ALL: Holy One, we trust you never abandon. Your healing, saving work continues. ⁠

Hear our cry for your work of peace to be fulfilled.⁠
No more war⁠
No more tears⁠

No more separation⁠
⁠No more tyrants

No more devastation⁠
No more death⁠

Jesus, save your beloved from overwhelm⁠ and occupation
Strengthen faith, hope, and compassion
We trust the triumph of your goodness and grace.⁠
For you are the Resurrection and the Life. ⁠
Amen. ⁠

PRAYER: Choices
Holy One,
Your word provides examples
Examples to follow and examples to avoid

You do not sugarcoat life
You reveal the destructive consequences
of vain, self-serving lives
You reveal the vicious injustice
of fear-full, pride-full, impulsive choices

We see this right now in Ukraine
and far too many other places in our world

We call on your mercy and healing
for faith-full living
Grant us and all people
compassionate, courageous, teachable spirits,
so we may choose your way and life
no matter the cost

In Jesus’ name we trust and pray
Amen

PRAYER: Calm Our Hearts
God our Refuge, calm our hearts when evil abounds
They run to lonesome places, screaming an alarm
Calm our hearts so we can find you above the fear

God our Strength, calm our hearts when evil abounds
They race to revenge, pounding with anger
Calm our hearts so we can hear you above the hammering

God our Help, calm our hearts when evil abounds
They rush to human strength, grasping for control
Calm our hearts so we can hold
to your way, your truth, and your life

Calm hearts in Russia and Ukraine
soften and open hearts
encourage and strengthen hearts
turn hearts to goodness and life

Calm hearts
So they may beat in unison with yours
So healing may flow into all brokenness
So hope may fill all devastation
So compassion and peace and unity may rise up among all people

God our Strength, our Refuge, our Help
We entrust our lives to you
We step forward with you in your saving work
Amen

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Three Prayers for Ukraine © 2022 You are welcome to use the original portions of this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. (by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, http://www.revlisad.com) Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Strong, Fierce Love – a St. Valentine’s Day reflection and prayer based on Song of Solomon 8.5-7

matches-heart-2

Who is that coming up from the wilderness,
leaning upon her beloved?

The strong, fierce love of God in Christ Jesus
leads us out of the dry, barren places
bears weight, we can lean on it

Under the apple tree, I awakened you.
There your mother was in labor with you;
there she who bore you was in labor.

The strong, fierce love of God in Christ Jesus
opens, quickens
is more intimate than our first breath

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;

The strong, fierce love of God in Christ Jesus
makes a lasting impression
a tattoo of everlasting grace

for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.

The strong, fierce love of God in Christ Jesus
comes for us all
an unrelenting longing for our good

Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.

The strong, fierce love of God in Christ Jesus
is unchanging
unquenchable
unstoppable

If one offered for love
all the wealth of one’s house,
it would be utterly scorned.

The strong, fierce love of God in Christ Jesus
is precious
priceless

Will you accept the gift of God’s love?

Rabbi Jesus
Promised Messiah
Son of the One, True, Living God
Fill me with your Spirit
Make me your love

It is your command
It is your way
It is your gift
It is You and your work

Yes, make me your witness
And yes, make me your will
But first and always, make me your love

Pause in silence to receive

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Strong, Fierce Love © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. (by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, revlisad.com) Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Modern Ash Wednesday Service

AshWednesday1PRELUDE
People are encouraged to enter in silence. Lights are dim.
As people gather, words appropriate to the day appear and disappear on the screen.
You can create your own presentation or find one for free online here.

INVITATION TO THE OBSERVANCE OF LENTEN DISCIPLINE
The Pastor reminds the congregation of the origins of Lent and Ash Wednesday, following it with an invitation to observe a holy Lent through various Lenten disciplines. An excellent invitation to use or model your invitation after may be found online in the United Methodist Book of Worship, p. 322.

SCRIPTURE AND SONG
At the end of the invitation, an acoustic guitar and djembe begin to play the introduction to the first song. We are indebted to Taylor Burton-Edwards, compiler of an excellent Contemporary Service for Ash Wednesday, for the idea of alternating the reading of scripture with the haunting song O-So-So from The Faith We Sing, #2232.

ALL SINGING: O-So-So (The Faith We Sing, #2232, Verse 1 twice)
Following the singing, a shofar blows.
A recording will work if you are unable to locate and play one live.
A person stands in the midst of the congregation and reads.
Do not project the words to the scripture as it is read.
The instruments continue during the reading.

ONE VOICE Joel 2:1-2, 12-17a (NRSV)
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near— a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come.

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.

ALL SINGING: O-So-So (The Faith We Sing, #2232, Verse 2 twice)
Following the singing, a person stands in the midst of the congregation and reads.
Do not project the words to the scripture as it is read.
The instruments continue during the reading.

ONE VOICE 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:2 (NRSV)
We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!

ALL SINGING: O-So-So (The Faith We Sing, #2232, Verse 3 twice)
Following the singing, a person stands in the midst of the congregation and reads.
Do not project the words to the scripture as it is read.
The instruments continue during the reading.
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 may be substituted for the verses from Psalm 103.

ONE VOICE Psalm 103:8-14 (Adapted from the New Jerusalem Bible)
The Lord is tenderness and pity, slow to anger and rich in faithful love;
His indignation does not last forever, nor his resentment remain for all time;
He does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor repay us as befits our offenses.
As the height of heaven above earth,
so strong is his faithful love for those who revere him.
As the distance of east from west, so far from us does he put our faults.
As tenderly as a father treats his children, so the Lord treats those who revere him;
He knows of what we are made, he remembers that we are dust.

ALL SINGING: O-So-So (The Faith We Sing, #2232, Verse 4 twice)
Instruments and singing end before the next prayer

THANKSGIVING OVER THE ASHES
The Pastor offers a prayer of thanksgiving, calling to mind the many meanings associated with ashes: our creation out of dust, mourning our sin (sackcloth and ashes), and our mortality (eventual return to dust). An excellent prayer to use or model your prayer after may be found online in the United Methodist Book of Worship, p. 323.

IMPOSITION OF ASHES
Persons are invited forward to receive ashes on their forehead, place their offering on the altar table, and pray at the altar rail. The words projected as persons gathered are again projected. The guitar plays softly.

The following words are traditionally spoken by those applying the ashes as the ashes are received:
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (Gen. 3:19)
Repent, and believe the gospel.

CONFESSION AFTER THE IMPOSITION OF ASHES
Show the video Confession Starter from Shift Worship.

TIME OF SILENT CONFESSION
After a few minutes of silent confession, project the words to the following scripture.

ALL SPEAKING: Psalm 51:1-3, 7, 10-17 (NIV)
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.
Save me from blood-guilt, O God, the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

WORD OF GRACE AND PARDON

SONG: Come Thou Fount (United Methodist Hymnal, #400)
Or another song of your choosing

BENEDICTION

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First Offered at Community United Methodist Church, DeBary FL
Modern Ash Wednesday Service Compilation
© 2012 Nicole Sallee and Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Nicole and Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The United Methodist Book of Worship
(The United Methodist Publishing House, Nashville. 1992)

Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NRSV are taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Choosing a Word of the Year

For the past few years, I’ve chosen a word for the year. Well, the word actually chose me. Yes, there are online quizzes or reflection questions you could try, but I’ve found just opening yourself to receiving a guiding word will bring one your way. Just listen for it.

In 2019, my word was practice, as in try and try again. Practice gave me permission to experiment, risk, prototype, and fail. Growth, progress, and skill take time. She’s the word of grace this perfectionist needs.⁠

My word for 2020 was rhythm– the movement of practice. Intentionality, flow, consistency. I imagined a spiritually rich and disciplined year. Ha! Instead, it was a boatload of practice. Rhythm was jazz, not a march. Improvise. Keep showing up in the midst of constant adaptation, heartbreak, and lament. Rhythm has so much more to share with me.

My word for 2021 was truth. She arrived in the middle of a Zoom gathering with my author buddies at the Light House. Truth was the permission I needed to make space for deep conversation, especially the uncomfortable and taboo.

When things got tough and I wanted to hold back, I’d find myself saying, “My word for the year is truth” and what I needed to say made its way out of my heart. Every time this happened, the gift of truth broke the conversation open in beautiful and needed ways.   

Truth was the exact word I needed to companion me through the major transitions of 2021

  • a six-week renewal leave which included some travel and a much-needed counseling intensive at Quiet Waters in Colorado
  • saying goodbye to my congregation in Sarasota and hello to my new congregation in New Smyrna Beach, Coronado Community United Methodist Church
  • Ed and I buying a house. We never dreamed we’d have this opportunity before retirement. Plus, we’re finally under the same roof after decades of separation due to work.
  • my mom’s cancer diagnosis and my sister’s incredible caregiving of her. Mom’s doing well.
  • the marriage of our beloved Laura and Kevin
  • the scary and exciting decision to start a publishing business for my writing called Via Lexi. More to come as that unfolds.
  • a new partnership with the good folks at The Pastor’s Workshop as a contributor of prayer, liturgy, and sermon resources
  • the surprising birth of our beloved Lily Joy, our first grandchild, to our beloved Elyse and Sam. She arrived two weeks early and was a girl instead of the boy they thought they saw in the ultrasound. Elyse, Sam, and Lily are living with us, so I get to hold her every day. I’m over the moon.
  • starting 2022 with Covid. I’m quarantining in our travel trailer this week.

That’s a lot.

What’s surprised me most about receiving a word for the year is the way they abide. These wise companions don’t come and go. They move in and continue to offer grace year after year like a tribe of dear friends. They collaborate with one another and encourage one another to share even more with me as I’m ready to receive it.

So, who’s moving in this year? Curious.

Curious showed up bags in hand last week as a total shock. I even kept her at the door a while thinking she’d made a wrong turn, but no. Curious is here to stay. She knows I need her to help me with my dualistic thinking and my ugly bent to judging. So welcome sister Curious. I’m ready to receive.

What word is choosing you this year? I’d love to hear your story.