Psalm 148:7-8 NRSV
Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!
One winter, while we were living in North Carolina, it snowed. I sat for a long time in silence at our bedroom window watching the soft flakes float to the ground. It was fascinating to me. I grew up in Florida and had only seen snow a couple of times in my life. The perfect peace of that experience birthed the snow verse of this hymn. As I began to think about other natural experiences, the other verses came to be. – Lisa <><
God Who Brings the Cleansing Rain
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Suggested tune: THE CALL (United Methodist Hymnal #164)
God who brings the cleansing rain
saturate our thirsty bones
with the milk of mercy sweet
with the blood that brings us home
God who rules the fiery sun
kindle now our brittle hearts
set ablaze our tender lives
forge our ways till sin departs
God who rides the winds of change
anchor us against its wrath
set our face toward holy ends
fix our walk upon your path
God who sends the silent snows
quiet us against your breast
cover us with hope-filled wings
whisper soft your word of rest
God who steps into our time
Take away this needless fear
Turn our lives to songs of praise
Play us for your world to hear
36 folks from several difference congregations leave tomorrow for the Holy Land
Won’t be with you as we continue to process the decisions of General Conference
Won’t be with you for the beginning of Lent. Ash Wednesday is this Wednesday.
Ashes seem to be exactly what we need right now.
Traditional Prayer consecrating the ashes before imposition: Almighty God, you created humanity from the dust of the earth. Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality, our humility, and sorrow for our sin. We admit our eternal need of you and claim the greatness of your eternal grace and forgiveness, in Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
Ashes of mourning
Ashes were used in mourning sin and mourning loss.
So many feelings following General Conference. Some are relieved by the decisions at General Conference. Some are rejoicing. Some are mad. Some are wondering or in a place of confusion. Some are full of sorrow- grieving, disillusioned, that harm has been done, hurt, wondering if there is a place for them or their loved ones in the United Methodist Church.
Yes, there is a place for you here at Trinity and the UMC! Please read the information we’re providing. Please stay. Please come and speak to me when I return.
Ashes of humility
What you hear when you receive ashes on your forehead: Remember you are dust and to dust, you shall return. Repent and believe the gospel.
Right now my Facebook feed is a mess. There’s a whole bunch of folks telling a whole bunch of other folks I’m right and you’re wrong. It is ugly. It is not of God. We need these ashes to remind us of our need for humility. It’s the only way we’ll move forward.
We’re all hummus (dirt). We’re all human. Hummus, human, humility. All those words are tied together. All of us are in need of Jesus’s grace and forgiveness and love and belonging and hope.
The ashes remind us of sorrow, humility, and mortality. Remember you are dust. This life is short and precious. The ashes also remind us there is life.
Ashes of life
Remember you are dust also reminds us of God breathing life into dust at creation. It is a good gift of God.
So many of us think of Lent as a season of sorrow, wilderness, repentance, giving up stuff (make fun of all of it). Lent is ultimately a season of transformation, new life.
The Grinch isn’t just sour or mean. The Grinch does harm
Why does the Grinch change?
The Grinch literally repents. The Grinch turns and heads down to the Who’s and down to a new life.
How do people change? Change does not come by fear, facts, or force. Change doesn’t come by legislation or law. Change comes by love.
The Grinch sees the Who’s love of one another
He sees and hears their gratitude and worship
Then he experiences their love, Even though he has done great harm, they welcome him into their community and to their table.
At the end of the story, the Grinch has
a new family
a new way of thinking and being
a new identity
This is the Good News of Jesus Christ. We see Jesus loving, healing, welcoming. The love of our Father overflowing in the flesh of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The love of the Father overflowing into the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Through his life, death and resurrection, that we too gain a new family, a new way of thinking and being, a new and transformed identity.
The evil one loves to keep us distracted and divided. (noise, noise, noise, noise!)
Today again I am choosing the way of Jesus, the way of love. I invite you to do the same.
Recommit to loving those who agree with me and those disagree with me. Will you do the same?
Recommit to praying for those who choose persecution and harm over love. Will you do the same?
Prayer: Lord, make me an instrument of your truth and grace. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may love as radically as you do, especially when all I want to do is grieve, or run, or demonize, or lash out.
Psalm 37:1, 5 Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrongdoers. Commit your way to the Holy One; trust in God, and God will act.
Quote: Steve Garnaas Holmes Beware the temptation to outdo an evil one, to beat the wicked at their own game. The saint does not resist the devil by becoming a more devout devil. Your compass is set to a different star. Don’t let them turn you. Set your heart on compassion, even when facing a wrongdoer: it will make whatever game they are playing a different game. Let the Crucified One play your [role]; it will change the meaning of the [game]. You needn’t pump up the power of God. Trust love to do what you cannot.
The beautiful thing about How the Grinch Stole Christmas, is about how the Who’s welcome him to their table. In the United Methodist Church, we have an open table- You do not need to Methodist, a member of this church, you do not need to be a certain age. Nothing can keep you from this table.
It is Christ our Lord who welcomes us to this table and welcomes all.
Sermon Series: Pursuing Peace Message 2 of 4: Recognizing a Heart of War
Scripture: James 3:13-18
These are the notes from a message offered 9/23/18, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. I’ll be posting this series on Fridays in the coming weeks. I pray they empower and inspire you to be a peacemaker.
Psalm 34:14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
We can see behaviors- our words and actions. But these are the tip of the iceberg. Behaviors are born deep within us coming from a heart of peace or a heart of war.
As we read the scripture, look for the heart of peace and the heart of war.
James 3:13-18 The Voice 13 Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others. 14 If your heart is one that bleeds dark streams of jealousy and selfishness, do not be so proud that you ignore your depraved state. 15 The wisdom of this world should never be mistaken for heavenly wisdom; it originates below in the earthly realms, with the demons. 16 Any place where you find jealousy and selfish ambition, you will discover chaos and evil thriving under its rule. 17 Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. 18 The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace.
Pastor Lisa picks up a hand mirror and tells the story of growing up watching a children’s program called Romper Room. The teacher often used a mirror to say goodbye to the children and to encourage them to be “do bee’s,” those who do good.
Every time you see your reflection remember you are made in the image of God.
God’s intention for you is wholeness. Salvation means wholeness. Wholeness looks like
Vs 13. wisdom and gentleness
Vs 17. wisdom, purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, good fruits
God’s intention for you is clarity- for you to clearly see your talents, your beauty, your value, your purpose, how beloved you are to God
Max Lucado quote If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning… Face it, friend. He is crazy about you!
God came in Jesus to reveal all these things about you and to prove God’s love. Jesus lived, healed, taught, imprisoned, tortured, crucified, died rose again so we could know that we know that we know this. So we could become this. When we know this and live out of this we have a heart of peace.
But the mirror is broken. Shattered by sin- our own choices, choices of others, circumstances of life, the brokenness of our world.
All we have is a shard. It’s hard to see with just this little bit of mirror. We forget who we look like, that we look like God. This is why we need Jesus.
Forgetting colors how we see situations and how we see others. It’s like looking through at the world through tinted lenses, or with blinders on like a horse. Or like we have an eye disease- only seeing the periphery or only seeing the middle.
This limited view boxes us into how we respond to situations and people.
I see the world as competitive, troubled
I’m better than most folks because I know what’s right and I do what’s right. The world needs me to be the example and to fix it.
I get impatient with all these incompetent fools who screw everything up
I see the world as hard, against me, ignoring me
I’m not as good as others. I’m broken, helpless.
If I’m truthful, I’m jealous and bitter towards those people with all the advantages
I Deserve box
I see the world as unfair, unjust. It owes me.
People constantly take advantage of me and don’t appreciate me
I resent those ungrateful people depriving me and mistreating me. I deserve better.
Must be seen box
I see the world watching me, judging me. I always wonder what people are thinking.
I feel anxious, stressed because I need to get it right. I need to be well thought of.
Do you recognize yourself in any of these boxes? Does it color how you view situations and people?
My friend, there is no shame. You have just forgotten who you are. Instead of holding on to the truth of who you really are you’re holding on to the mirror shard. You’re holding on to the wounds and brokenness and separation and sin
What happens if you hold on to the shard. You continue to wound yourself. And you wound others.
You’re living out of a heart of war. Here’s the good news. You can change. You can live out of a heart of peace.
Luke 18:9-14 (NRSV). The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector 9 Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Jesus tells this parable to people who have a heart of war so they can receive a heart of peace. The first step is honesty, transparency, confessing our need and desire for a heart of peace to replace our heart of war.
If you desire a heart of peace, please join in this prayer.
Jesus, you are the Prince of Peace. You can give us a heart of peace. Jesus, we bow in wonder at the expanse of your embrace, the breadth of your inclusion, the surprise of your grace. You seek and seek and seek, including those we write off as beyond hope, including me.
Jesus, You are the Great Physician coming to those in need of healing. You are the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world. You are the Prince of Peace granting me a heart of peace.
Forgive me, Jesus. Forgive me for forgetting who you are. For forgetting who I am in you.
Forgive and heal my wounds. Forgive and heal my brokenness, my sin.
Forgive me for judging. Forgive my hurtful words and actions. Forgive my self-righteousness.
Forgive me Jesus for limiting you. I am so desperately in need of you.
Create in me a clean heart and renew your Holy Spirit within me.
Create in me a heart of peace. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The new is coming. The new has come. Amen.
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Mark 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 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.
Growing in Resilience
Based on Isaiah 58
Bonus Reflection: We Will Rise
based on Isaiah 58:11-12, NRSV
The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.
We will rise
From the destruction
From the ruins
From the sin and isolation
We will rise
Building strong foundations
Bridging the breach
Making a way, a highway to our God
We will rise in our ceasing
A holy fast of God’s desiring and design
Fasting from injustice
Letting loose the bonds
Breaking every yoke of oppression and affliction
Fasting from food and space and clothing
Simplicity and sacrifice so others may have enough
Fasting from busyness
Reclaim the good gifts of relationship and sabbath
Fasting from evil speech
Blaming, gossiping, demonizing, lying
Truth will be on our tongue
Life will be on our lips
We will rise for this is the way of the Risen One
The bones of the Body will be strong
The branches of the Vine will be well watered
The ruins will be rebuilt with living stones
We will rise!
Growing in Resilience
Day 19, Read Isaiah 58
Reflection: False Following,
based on Isaiah 58:1-2, The Voice
Tell My people about their wrongdoing; shout with a voice like a trumpet; Hold nothing back: say this people of Jacob’s line and heritage have failed to do what is right. And yet they look for Me every day. They pretend to want to learn what I teach, as if they are indeed a nation good and true, as if they hadn’t really turned their backs on My directives. They even ask Me, as though they care, about what I want them to be and do, as if they really want Me in their lives.
You shout truth
Loud and clear like a trumpet blast
Holding nothing back so we might be saved
Give us ears to hear
Souls to receive
Lives to live your holy love
Save us from false following
Pretending to want what you want
Hiding behind pious practices
Rituals for show
Save us from false following
Weaponizing your means of grace
Religion without relationship
Belief without transformation
Save us from false following
Faith without works
Have mercy on us
Make our faith real
We turn and return to you
And your desiring
Give us ears to hear
Souls to receive
Lives to live your holy love