Sermon Recording- Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, a Sermon on Courage (Romans 8)


Sermon Series – Finding God in Oz
The Wizard of Oz is a powerful allegory for so many of our foundational Christian beliefs. Walk with us as we Find God in Oz.

Message: Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, a Sermon on Courage
Scriptures: Romans 8:35-39
Offered 11/13/16, the Sunday after the National Election and Veterans Day at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

It takes courage to open up Facebook. It’s still ugly following the election. I hoped it would go back to puppy videos, inspiring quotes, and pictures of my friends.

It takes courage to watch the news. Protesters remind us of our deeply divided country. We hear hate crimes are on the rise.

I just want to go to my favorite chair with my Bible and journal and pray till it goes away. I just want to stay within the walls of this beautiful, safe place- this sanctuary. That’s what God’s house should be. I just want to sit on my couch and grow my veggies and have a chai tea latte and pet my dog. I want to plug my ears and my heart because it hurts too much to see folks scared and mean. Yet, this is what happens when you become a follower of Jesus; when you ask God, “Give me a heart like yours.” It hurts because God’s heart hurts.

It takes a supernatural courage to face the hurt.

Wednesday afternoon, the day after the election, I’m walking to church and I see my friend Miguel. He’s in the 5th grade. I ask him how he is, remembering him being afraid because month’s before during the election he’d heard talk of walls and deportation. He’d thought he and his family belonged, but then he wasn’t so sure. He’s still not sure. I said, “I will fight for you. Not in a violent way. I’ll stand with you should you and your family need it.” (I really wanted what I said to be real. I wanted to be ready to be courageous.)

With complete faith and serenity on his face, Miguel said, “No matter where we are, God is with us.”

Romans 8:35-39
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Miguel knew that in Jesus’ death and resurrection evil is defeated, sin is defeated, death is defeated.

For I am convinced that neither winning nor losing elections, nor pollsters, nor pundits, nor spin, nor lies, nor discrimination, nor prejudice, nor bullying, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Last week we talked about living in the age of loneliness and the essential of friendship, especially spiritual friends. What if, as followers of Jesus, we claimed this as the age of courage? Courage in the face of evil and courage to face evil.

In the Wizard of OZ, Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion have courage in the face of evil; courage when the fight comes to them. Courage when the angry orchard attacks them. Courage when the flying monkeys start carrying off their friends. They also have the courage to face evil, to go to the fight, to go to the wicked witch’s fortress to rescue their friends.

I want to be like Miguel- courageous and confident in Jesus’ victory. Courage in the face of evil and courage to face evil alongside him. I want to be with Miguel because he’s my friend and brother in Jesus Christ.

God to give me a courageous heart to stand with Miguel and with
– peaceful Muslim-Americans fearing for their well being
– persons of color fearing the rise of white supremacy
– gay and lesbian persons fearing loss of their rights
– veterans needing easier access to benefits
– women and sexual assault victims fearing they won’t be heard or believed
– lots of people fearing loss of insurance and basic needs


We’re going to hurt. Will we be hurting for something worthwhile?


Renewal of Baptismal Vows
On behalf of the whole Church, I ask you:
1. Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?
2. Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
3. Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace,
and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?

Psalm 31:23-24
Love the LORD, all you his saints.
The LORD preserves the faithful,
but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD.

I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon 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 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Prayer Station- Crown of Thorns

crown of thorns

Prayer Stations are interactive experiences with Scripture and/or devotional prompts. A simple, creative gesture can help us slow down and listen for what God reveals. The gesture likewise opens us to respond.

For me, utilizing the sense of touch in prayer takes me to a child-like place. I’m reminded of a less complicated time- a time of wonder, imagination, and play. It gets me out of my head and into my heart. I’m often surprised by the ease and depth of God’s interaction in these encounters.

I pray this idea encourages you to set aside some time to meet God in interactive prayer. If you choose to use this idea, or better yet create one of your own, I’d love to hear from you. – Lisa <>< 

Items Needed

  • small grapevine wreath, approximately 6 inches across
  • wooden toothpicks. You could tea dye them if you wanted them to better match the wreath.
  • Scripture with instructions, provided below.

Matthew 27:27-31 NRSV
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Below you will find several options. Choose one or create one of your own. Whatever you choose, read the scripture first and then pray through the prescribed actions. If you’re writing your own option, be sure to be clear what the gesture represents and what the prop represents.

Option 1- The soldiers mocked Jesus without mercy. He understands our pain. Place toothpicks in the wreath for yourself, other people, or groups of people who are in pain at the hands of others. (Examples would include bullying, abuse, injustice, etc.) Be specific in your naming. Remove the toothpicks as you pray healing and new life for the victims and their abusers.

Option 2- The soldiers mocked Jesus without mercy. He was brutally bullied. Place toothpicks in the wreath as you think about instances when you have been the bully and when you have been bullied. Remove the toothpicks as you ask for forgiveness and extend forgiveness. When the wreath is empty, hold it in your hands as you accept God’s gift of new life and pray for an end to all bullying.

Option 3- Place toothpicks in the wreath as you confess your sins. Remove the toothpicks as you receive God’s forgiveness in Jesus’ Name. When the wreath is empty, hold it in your hands and claim the Good News of 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Option 4- Place toothpicks in the wreath as you name the various ways Jesus suffered. When complete, spend a few moments in wonder and worship at the depth of Jesus’ sacrifice and love. When you are finished, remove the toothpicks to reset the station for the next person.

Option 5- Choose a recording of a song or a person reading the lyrics of a song or a poem. Below are some suggestions. Place toothpicks in the wreath as you listen to the recording. When finished, remove the toothpicks to reset the station for the next person.

Prayer Station- Crown of Thorns by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia © 2016
You are welcome to use this service with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa directly for publishing and posting consideration.

The 2016 TED Talk Experiment – Week 2

TED talk blog graphic 2
Week 2 choices were inspired by the 2015 TED recap The Year in Ideas.

Why Public Beheadings Get Millions of Views
Frances Larson
TED Global London, June 2015
The sense of anonymity and detachment cultivated by the internet buffer our empathy for those being murdered. In our watching, we become part of the theatre of evil and those performing the acts achieve their goal. How can I use this awareness to cultivate empathy, personal connection, and peacemaking?

The Price of Shame
Monica Lewinsky
TED 2015 Vancouver, March 2015
A thoughtful and moving discussion of the evolution of public shaming, especially the cost of cyber bullying. Ends with a word of hope and call to action to be an empathetic, encouraging, and peacemaking presence online.

This app knows how you feel – from the look on your face
Rana el Kaliouby
TED Women 2015, May 2015
A creative solution to the reality that technology often separates us. I was especially inspired by how many different people will benefit from this technology and the brave choice of the creators to share their work for the common good.

The Enchanting Music of Sign Language
Christine Sun Kim
TED Fellows Retreat 2015, August 2015
As a hearing person I had never considered the “commodity of sound”. How can I be more aware of those who have no voice and be an ally in them claiming and sharing their voices?

What Really Matters at the End of Life
BJ Miller
TED 2015, March 2015
A generous, vulnerable, and beautiful discussion about the little changes which make a huge difference in the experience of medical care and palliative care. “As long as we have our senses, even just one, we have at least the possibility of accessing what makes us feel human, connected.”


I’m trying an experiment in 2016. Maybe you’d like to try it with me.

Here’s where I am
I’m tired of the spin. I’m tired of ideas, news, and entertainment really being one long sales pitch for profit or power.

I’m longing for creativity, curiosity, and inspiration. I’m in search of passionate people willing to speak to the truth and complexity of living with a heart of hope. I want to hear from authentic humans who are in the trenches working for the greater good.

I think I’ve found them in the TED community.

“TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On, we’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other, both online and at TED and TEDx events around the world, all year long.”

TED’s been around for 30 years. I’ve heard about them and even watched a couple of talks, but I’ve never spent any concentrated time mining the good stuff. So….

Here’s the plan
Watch 5 enthusiastic, inspiring TED Talk presenters a week for a year.
Apply and share the goodness.