Jesus, heal us- a prayer of confession based on Matthew 13.10-17

healing hand light

Based on Matthew 13:10-17

Jesus, heal us for we are hard of hearing
We do not listen, nor seek to understand
We work for our kingdom, not yours

Jesus, heal us for we have shut our eyes
We see, but we do not perceive
We look to our kingdom, not yours

Jesus, heal us for our hearts have grown dull
Blunted by apathy and distraction
We long for our kingdom, not yours

Jesus, you speak again that we might be saved
Weave your stories into the fabric of our souls
Unstop us with sacred truth
Awaken us to greater grace
Sharpen us with your light and love
that we may be fully yours and fully alive
to your kingdom, to your glory, to your mercy,
to you and your holy will. Amen

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Jesus, Heal Us © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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Prayer for troubles, sorrow, pain (Matthew 11)

matthew-11_28 come to me weary restBased on Matthew 11:28-30

What to do with the burdens of responsibility?
The weight of trouble, sorrow, pain?

What to do with broken and bloody relationships, bodies, and systems?

What to do with days without ceasing?
Nights without sleep?

What to do?
Come to you, Jesus.

With you there is an ease of company.
All we face is shared, lightened.
With you there is hope and healing.
With you there is rest for our very souls.

Hallelujah! We come.

Sermon Recording – Ceasing (Mark 6)

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Message: Ceasing 
Scriptures: Mark 6:30-32
Offered 1/1/17, New Year’s Day, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

Classic New Year’s Resolutions
1. Exercise, eat right, lose weight
2. Quit smoking, drinking, drugging
3. Get serious about my spiritual life
4. Budget, pay off debt, save for the future
5. Organize my house
6. Organize my calendar so I can do more in less time. If I keep my scheduled focused, I can work more efficiently, do more things in less time.

Being Productive
1. Makes me feel important, needed
2. Keeps the adrenaline pumping. You can be addicted to stress.
3. Hurry keeps everything on a safe superficial level. Depth takes time. I don’t have to look closely at my relationships or my situation or my soul. I don’t have to feel my feelings fully. I’m fine as long as I’m busy. No, we’re not fine we’re sick.

Hurry Sickness – an unhealthy, continuous internal drive to accomplish more, achieve more, experience more in less and less time. More and more has diminishing returns. It keeps us from living well and ultimately destroys our soul.

John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted
For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith.
It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.

Do you want a life like this, or do you want something different?
Jesus offers an alternative.

Mark 6:30-32 NRSV
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.

Jesus’ Cure for Hurry Sickness is Ceasing
Ceasings = Solitude, Silence, Slowing, Sabbath
Ceasing distraction and noise and trying to do it in our own strength
Ceasing hurry. Ceasing in order to seek.

Jesus practiced ceasing regularly throughout his ministry
1. At the beginning he spent 40 days alone in the wilderness and at the end he spent the night in Gethsemane before crucifixion
2. Spent the night alone in prayer before choosing the disciples
3. Time away after the death of John the Baptist
4. After feeding the 5000, after healing a leper, after the 12 returned from preaching/teaching

Verse 31 says they were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. That sounds like us.

Jesus was busy, but never hurried
Busy = full schedule, many activities, demanding
Hurried = unhealthy inner drive, keeping up appearances, proving yourself
Hurry is based on fear and worry.
Hurry is constantly preoccupied, never fully present.

Busy = constantly reminded of God and my need of God
Hurried = unavailable to God

Vance Havner said, “If you don’t come apart for a while, you will come apart in a while.”

Jesus’ Cure for Hurry Sickness is Ceasing
Solitude Silence Slowing Sabbath
Creating space to listen. Trusting God will provide.
Stopping the self medication stimulation, distraction, and society scripts
Allowing God to hit the reset button

How to practice ceasing?
Quiet time, quiet place
Little ceasings throughout the day

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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 © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Advent Photo-A-Day: Day 6, Awake

awake eyeThe thought behind the photo:
SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 5:13-14 NRSV
Everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for everything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore it says, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

We’re like kids whining in the back seat, “Are we there yet?” Well, we are there yet. We are here now. But we’re so busy being busy, and whining about it, that we don’t notice. Our busyness is not fruitfulness; it’s fear. We’re afraid of the stillness, afraid of the dark, afraid of what might come up in the silence. We’re afraid of not being in control and of being dependent, afraid of not knowing. We keep busy to stay unconscious. Advent invites us into the dark, into the silence, into wakefulness.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Pregnant Pause

Unexpected God, your advent alarms us.
Wake us from drowsy worship
From the sleep that neglects love
From the sedative of misdirected frenzy
Awaken us now to your coming,
and bend our angers into your peace. Amen.
Steven W. Manskar, A Disciple’s Journal 2014

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 57:7-8 NIV
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

For a worship resource incorporating Psalm 57 and the song Awakening by Chris Tomlin and Reuben Morgan, click here

The December 6, 2013 devotion from http://umrethinkchurch.tumblr.com 
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 24:40-44 CEB
At that time there will be two men in the field. One will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill. One will be taken and the other left. Therefore, stay awake! You don’t know what day the Lord is coming. But you understand that if the head of the house knew at what time the thief would come, he would keep alert and wouldn’t allow the thief to break into his house. Therefore, you also should be prepared, because the Human One will come at a time you don’t know.

The work the Christian does is to be accomplished in a spirit of wakefulness or watchfulness. That’s not something we hear often is it? We live in a culture where we are judged by our productivity and accomplishments, and not how attentive we are.

But in this text that continues from yesterday, we are reminded that sometimes more important than our doing, is our keeping watch on the here and now for signs of God’s kin-dom breaking forth here on earth.

Perhaps if we can stay alert and awake, we might not just catch those glimpses of heaven, but help usher it in. – Mark E. Yuris, Feasting on the Word: Year A, Volume 1

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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 <><

Keep Awake!

alive awake awareMark 13:31-37 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake— for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

It is usually over time and with patience that we come to see the wonderful patterns of grace, which is why it takes most of us a long time to be converted. Our focus slowly moves from an initial preoccupation with perfect actions (“first half of life” issues), to naked presence itself. The code word for that is simply “prayer,” but it became cheapened by misuse. Jesus will often call prayer “vigilance,” “seeing,” or “being awake.” When you are aware and awakened, you will know for yourself all that you need to know. In fact, “stay awake” is the last thing Jesus says to the apostles—three or perhaps four times—before he is taken away to be killed (Matthew 26:38-45). Finally, continuing to find them asleep, he kindly but sadly says, “Sleep now and take your rest,” which might have been his resigned, forgiving statement to the church itself. It is not that we do not want to be awake, but very few teachers have actually told us how to do that in a very practical way. We call it the teaching of contemplation.
– Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality

All forms of meditation and contemplation teach some form of compartmentalizing or limiting the control of the mental ego— or what some call the “monkey mind,” which just keeps jumping from observation to observation, distraction to distraction, feeling to feeling, commentary to commentary. Most of this mental action means very little and is actually the opposite of consciousness. In fact, it is unconsciousness. – Richard Rohr

They watch for Christ who are sensitive, eager, apprehensive in mind, who are awake, alive, quick-sighted, zealous in honoring him, who look for him in all that happens, and who would not be surprised, who would not be over-agitated or overwhelmed, if they found that he was coming at once…. This then is to watch: to be detached from what is present, and to live in what is unseen; to live in the thought of Christ as he came once, and as he will come again; to desire his second coming, from our affectionate and grateful remembrance of his first. -John Henry Newman

Extended quote by E. Glenn Hinson from his post Fasting from the Internet
found in Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life

I don’t think I exaggerate when I say that it is not easy to learn how to pray or to keep at it when we have learned how. Teresa of Ávila, the first woman named a “Doctor of the Church,” in the main because of her contribution to a Christian understanding of prayer, confessed that she spent twenty years learning how. Admittedly, she didn’t get serious in her effort to learn until a three-year illness and a near-death experience put some pressure on. What she discovered is what everyone who takes prayer seriously will discover, that prayer is, above all, response to the prior love of God.

As Bernard of Clairvaux reminded his fellow monks, “…every soul among you that is seeking God should know that it has been anticipated by [God], and has been sought by [God] before it began to seek [God]. It couldn’t happen any other way, could it?”

How could we mortals get God’s attention, the attention of the God of a universe of 150-plus billion galaxies? We can’t yell loud enough, build a Babel tower high enough, or send a spaceship far enough to get God’s attention unless God has chosen to enter into our consciousness. If we pray, then, we have to learn how to pay attention. We have to cultivate wakefulness.

Ephesians 5:11-16 NRSV
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.

The sin of inadvertence, not being alert, not quite awake, is the sin of missing the moment of life. Live with unremitting awareness; whereas the whole of the art of the non-action that is action (wu-wei) is unremitting alertness.
– Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth

We’re like kids whining in the back seat, “Are we there yet?” Well, we are there yet. We are here now. But we’re so busy being busy, and whining about it, that we don’t notice. Our busyness is not fruitfulness; it’s fear. We’re afraid of the stillness, afraid of the dark, afraid of what might come up in the silence. We’re afraid of not being in control and of being dependent, afraid of not knowing. We keep busy to stay unconscious. Advent invites us into the dark, into the silence, into wakefulness.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Pregnant Pause

Unexpected God, your advent alarms us.
Wake us from drowsy worship
From the sleep that neglects love
From the sedative of misdirected frenzy
Awaken us now to your coming,
and bend our angers into your peace. Amen.
Steven W. Manskar, A Disciple’s Journal 2014

Here, then, stands the newly awakened self: aware, for the first time, of reality, responding to that reality by deep movements of love and of awe. She sees herself, however, not merely to be thrust into a new world, but set at the beginning of a new road. Activity is now to be her watchword, pilgrimage the business of her life.
-Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism

Psalm 57:7-8 NIV
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

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Click Here for a powerful poem entitled Sleeper, Awake by Steve Garnaas Holmes

Click Here for a beautiful prayer entitled Keep Awake by Steve Garnaas Holmes

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

Strengthening our Inner Being

Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Meditation is the devotional practice of pondering the words of a verse, or verses of Scripture, with a receptive heart, allowing the Holy Spirit to take the written Word and apply it as the living word to the inner being. – Campbell McAlpine

The Christian’s life in all its aspects – intellectual and ethical, devotional and relational, upsurging in worship and outgoing in witness – is supernatural; only the Spirit can initiate and sustain it. So apart from him, not only will there be no lively believers and no lively congregations, there will be no believers and no congregations at all. – J. I. Packer

Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We would like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability — and that it may take a very long time. Above all, trust in the slow work of God, our loving vine-dresser. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Surrendering the idea of investment and outcome is uncomfortable.
Doing is easy. Being is much harder.
– Cathleen Falsani, The Pastor’s Message

Is it useful?  That’s the question asked by a utilitarianism that ascribes value only to those things that “produce results.”  And because we cannot ever actually “prove” that prayer “works,” many dismiss it as a waste of time. Prayer, by its very nature, calls us into communion with God—communion for its own sake, not for any other reason.  We do not pray to “feel” anything, to gain a new insight, or to be given power to accomplish something.  We pray to be with God—or more accurately, to enter into fellowship with the God who is already with us (Emmanuel).
– Steve Harper, Prayer is Wasting Time With God

Now and then, for a little while, we enter into a sort of personal rolling blackout called prayer: we unhook from all the things that make us feel like we get power from outside us, and let our power come from God alone. We deepen our connection with all of life and its Source, and deepen our awareness of God’s power within us. We notice the things that obstruct our connection with the Holy One and we let go of them. We let go of the illusion that we are isolated beings. We become powerless so that we might claim the true and pure divine power within. – Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Power Outage

Where there is love and wisdom,
there is neither fear nor ignorance.
Where there is patience and humility,
there is neither anger nor vexation.
Where there is poverty with joy,
there is neither greed nor avarice.
Where there is peace and meditation,
there is neither anxiety nor doubt.
Where the fear of the Lord stands guard,
there the enemy finds no entry.
Where there is mercy and moderation,
there is neither indulgence nor harshness.
Francis of Assisi, as quoted in
The Riches of Simplicity: Selected Writings of Francis and Clare

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Click here for a short, excellent article on the spiritual practice of breath prayer. This is an excellent remedy to busyness.

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

Mary and Martha

If you know the artist of this work, please let me know so I may give him/her credit.

Luke 10:38-42 (NRSV)
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Extended quote by Henri Nouwen from the book A Spirituality of Homecoming
We are needy people. We need attention, affection, influence. These needs are so strong that we may find ourselves arranging our lives in order to satisfy them. But this is a tragic trap because we can never find the attention, influence, or care that really fills our needs. This leads to a life filled with tension as we seek what we cannot find.

Why are we so needy? I think it comes from an awareness of woundedness. We have doubts about our selves. These doubts trace back to deep, early experiences that cause us to feel not fully acceptable as we are. We are not at home with our selves. From our feeling of woundedness we become needy. And in our neediness we wound others. There is an interlocking relationship between needs and wounds that stretches backward and forward from generation to generation. This is the context of what we call “love.”

The gospel breaks through this chain of interlocking needs and wounds. The great message of Jesus is that God loves us first and that we can love one another only because God has loved us first. Jesus calls us to come home to that first love, which precedes all human loves. This is the original blessing, the original acceptance, our original home. The Christian life means to love one another with God’s love and not with the needy, wounded love that can end up harming others.

Extended quote by D.L. Mayfield from a guest post on Rachel Held Evans blog entitled Martha, Martha
I know what happened Martha, because it happened to me too. I see your desire to single-handedly fix all the problems (feeding the disciples, cleaning the sheets, acquiring health permits, doing volunteer background checks), your deep-down desire to do good. How this desire, left on its own, morphed into a series of programs and activities that ultimately kept you from Jesus. I see how we got confused about it all, and took the easy route of fixing problems instead of becoming engaged with the lives of those around us. How we found our safety and security in doing, and eventually became brittle with the loneliness of trying to become the savior, instead of listening to him.

I do find comfort in this: Jesus doesn’t shame you. He calls you by name, twice (“Martha, Martha”, the first time cutting through your heart, the second time healing it). He gets to the root of all your existential angst, and he shows that there is no need for the amount of space you carve out for anxiety, worry, righteous indignation.

Instead, paradoxically, it turns out we find Jesus when we sit down, when we fall at his feet and listen. This is, he says, the very best thing, and it can’t be taken away from us unless we do it ourselves. The busyness of the savior complex, our quick-response culture, even our desire to do good with the limited amount of time that we have–can take Jesus, his love and his grace,  away from us. But he wants us, Martha, and he likes us even when we aren’t saving anyone. We are just his children, the ones he knows by name, and he wants to be with us.

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