Prayer: The Appearance of Peace (Luke 2:1-7)

baby jesus asleep hay2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 13 and 14 are set aside for worship and rest.
Day 15 Reading: Luke 2:1-7
Jesus is Born

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus
– Luke 2:1

Prayer: The Appearance of Peace
Lord, have mercy
Our earthly emperors
Decree away
Centurions and subjugation
Invasion and imperialism
Conquest and control
Worldly weapons bringing
an appearance of peace
Pax Romana

In the midst of the occupation
The forcing
The taking
A cry pierces the darkness
Vernix and vulnerability
Homelessness and hay
Swaddling and skin

The appearance of Peace
Pax Aeternam
Glory to God!

This post is part of the 2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas. Click here for more information, including a list of all the readings.

Prayer: The Appearance of Peace © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

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

Advent Photo-A-Day: Day 7, Ready

Ready! Pregnant Preparation circa 1992.

Ready! Pregnant Preparation circa 1992.

The thought behind the photo:
The idea of being ready or making ready led to the idea of preparation which led to the quote below about active waiting. As a mother of two, it’s easier for me to connect to images of active waiting, pregnancy, and midwives than some of the other Advent images. (i.e. preparing a road in the wilderness, making ready for battle, apocalypse) I’m especially drawn to the idea of breathing with someone as they labor in birthing new life. Lamaze class and two unmedicated births will drive that home.

This season and every season, we have the privilege of joining Christ in intimate, creative, labor. Incarnational, Compassionate, Companioning.
How else would you describe it? – Lisa <><

Advent, meaning “the coming,” is a time when we wait expectantly. Christians began to celebrate it as a season during the fourth and fifth centuries. Like Mary, we celebrate the coming of the Christ child, what God has already done. And we wait in expectation of the full coming of God’s reign on earth and for the return of Christ, what God will yet do. But this waiting is not a passive waiting. It is an active waiting. As any expectant mother knows, this waiting also involves preparation, exercise, nutrition, care, prayer, work; and birth involves pain, blood, tears, joy, release, community. It is called labor for a reason. Likewise, we are in a world pregnant with hope, and we live in the expectation of the coming of God’s kingdom on earth. As we wait, we also work, cry, pray, ache; we are the midwives of another world. – Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Enuma Okoro, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

SCRIPTURE: James 1:16-22 NRSV
Do not be deceived, my beloved. Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures. You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.

SCRIPTURE: 1 Peter 1:8-9, 13-16 NRSV
Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls….Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

The December 7, 2013 devotion from 
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 24:43-44 NRSV
Advent is a time when we watch, wait and prepare. In the coming days, the photo-a-day words will help us prepare our hearts, our minds, our lives for Immanuel; God with us. Have you imagined what may have been going through Mary’s or Joseph’s head during this time? What would people say? How would this all play out? What responsibilities would change their lives forever?

It’s not like they had been through this before. What expectations did they have to let go of to allow God to lead?

What expectations do we need to let go of this Advent so that we are ready to receive what this season brings? What are we doing to ready ourselves? How will we receive the living Christ in our midst?

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 <><

John Day 4: Born of the Spirit

Holy Spirit Coming by He Qi

Gospel of John Reading Plan
Day 4 Reading:
John 3:1-21

Bringing the Word to Life
Pray for all who have spiritual questions that they would find the truth and light of Christ.

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
– John 3:6 (NRSV)

Nicodemus risks much in speaking with this controversial rabbi called Jesus. He takes the risk because he’s hungry to know how to please God and thus gain eternal life. Nicodemus has been taught that you must work hard to engineer a right relationship with God. You do this through diligent study, disciplining your will, and by following hundreds of rules to perfection. He wants to know if there’s anything else he should be doing. Jesus tells him it’s not about doing; it’s about being- being born again. How are we born again? By grace through faith in Jesus, God’s son and messiah.

Born again or born anew is the word anothen in Greek. It has three meanings. All three are needed and important to right understanding.
1) born a 2nd time
2) a radical/complete new beginning
3) born from above, God’s doing via the Spirit

What is born of flesh is mortal. It has an expiration date. What is born of the Spirit is immortal because it is infused with God’s saving power. Redeemed! No expiration date! Jesus offers us eternal life- every part of our life, not just our soul. This means that as a follower of Christ my life, thoughts, words, relationships, body, work, acts of service and charity…everything… can be born of the Spirit. God offers us an awesome privilege, power and responsibility.

Holy Spirit, pregnant with new life, eternal life, welcome home to my spirit. Arise in every thought. Bring forth justice, encouragement and truth in every word. Deliver unity and peace in every relationship. Carry hope and healing in every motion of my hands. Give birth not just in me, but to a whole new generation, a people so full of your gifts and power they never labor in vain. Open our eyes to the glory that is possible through your grace moving within us. Open our hearts to the great responsibility of our every response- is it of flesh or is it of you? Open us to welcome you and give you thanks in all things, now and always. Amen.

For an original worship resource based on John 3:19-21 click here

For a worship resource on the theme of God drawing us out of the darkness and into the light, click here

Click here for another reflection on this passage entitled Labor and Delivery, by Steve Garnaas Holmes.

For more information on the Gospel of John Reading Plan, click here

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