Prayer- The Treasure Within Us (2 Corinthians 4)

treasure clay jarsBased on 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

This prayer could be offered by a single voice, a group praying in unison, or as indicated with a single voice on the regular print and all voices on the bold print.

Yes, we are merely clay jars
But within us is treasure
The extraordinary resurrection power of Jesus
Hallelujah! Glory to God!

Yes, we are afflicted
Yes we are confused
But within us is treasure
The extraordinary resurrection power of Jesus
We are not crushed
We do not give in to despair
Hallelujah! Glory to God!

Yes, we are persecuted
Yes, we are knocked down
But within us is treasure
The extraordinary resurrection power of Jesus
We are not abandoned
We are not destroyed
Hallelujah! Glory to God!

Yes, death is constantly at work in us
Yes, we are chipped and cracked, frail and mortal
But it is nothing compared to the brutal death and suffering of Jesus
It is nothing compared to his victorious resurrection

His extraordinary and endless life is at work in us
We are his treasure
We wield his power
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Glory to God!

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The Treasure Within Us © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer- Trust in Him

afraid-trust-psalm-56-3

Trust in Him and do not fear
The peace of Christ will guard your heart. Alleluia!

Trust in Him and do not worry
The promises of Christ will prove true. Alleluia!

Trust in Him and do not wander
The resurrection of Christ will open the way. Alleluia!

Trust in Him and do not give up
The power of Christ will raise a glorious harvest. Alleluia!

Trust in Him and do not despair
The grace of Christ will heal you and keep you, now and forever. Alleluia!

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This prayer would also work well as an affirmation of faith or call to worship.

Prayer – Trust in Him © 2017 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.

Advent Wreath Prayers: Let in the Light

pink_candle_light_flame_hope adventFirst Sunday in Advent: HOPE
READER ONE: Let in the Light

READER TWO: Psalm 84:11-12
The Lord God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts, blessed is everyone who trusts in you.

READER ONE: Let in the Light
Light the candle of hope

ALL: The following prayer by Dimitri of Rostov or a verse or two from the song I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (United Methodist Hymnal #206)
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

Second Sunday in Advent: LOVE
READER ONE: Let in the Light

READER TWO: John 3:16-21
Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

READER ONE: Let in the Light
Light the candles of hope and love

ALL: The following prayer by Dimitri of Rostov or a verse or two from the song I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (United Methodist Hymnal #206)
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

Third Sunday in Advent: JOY
READER ONE: Let in the Light

READER TWO: John 12:46, John 8:12
Jesus said, “I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness… I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

READER ONE: Let in the Light
Light the candles of hope, love and joy

ALL: The following prayer by Dimitri of Rostov or a verse or two from the song I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (United Methodist Hymnal #206)
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

Fourth Sunday in Advent: PEACE
READER ONE: Let in the Light

READER TWO: 1 Peter 2:9-11
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul.

READER ONE: Let in the Light
Light the candles of hope, love, joy and peace

ALL: The following prayer by Dimitri of Rostov or a verse or two from the song I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (United Methodist Hymnal #206)
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

Christmas Eve
Part One, at or near the beginning of the service
READER ONE: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.

An Advent candle is lit as each name for the Messiah is read:
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

ALL: Prayer by Dimitri of Rostov 
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

Part Two, at the end of the service
READER ONE OR PASTOR
For weeks we’ve been lighting more and more candles on this wreath in preparation to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Tonight we light the final candle, for Jesus, the Light of the World, has come. God has kept the prophetic promise:

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:78-79)

ONE SINGING
I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light
United Methodist Hymnal #206, verse 1
Light the Christ Candle during the song

READER ONE OR PASTOR
It’s now our turn. Accept the Light, share Him with others, and carry His peace forth from this place.

The light is passed from person to person as all sing Silent Night (United Methodist Hymnal #239). At the close of Silent Night, sing the following a cappella
Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday dear Jesus
Happy Birthday to You

Follow this with the closing Benediction and/or Postlude

Christmas Day or the Sunday after Christmas
READER ONE: Let in the Light

READER TWO: John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into being.
What has come into being in him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.

READER ONE: Let in the Light
Light the Christ candle

ALL: The following prayer by Dimitri of Rostov or a verse or two from the song I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (United Methodist Hymnal #206)
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

Epiphany or the Sunday before Epiphany
READER ONE: Let in the Light

READER TWO: Matthew 2:1-2
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”

READER ONE: Let in the Light
Light the Christ Candle

ALL: The following prayer by Dimitri of Rostov or a verse or two from the song I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (United Methodist Hymnal #206)
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

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This worship resource emphasizes the classic Advent candle symbols of hope, love, joy and peace. Since the scriptures center on the theme of light, this resource may be used in any liturgical year. The passages come from the NIV or NRSV of the Bible.

This worship resource calls for “more and more candles” to be lit each Sunday of Advent in order to emphasize “more and more light”. (The present and second coming of Christ growing more near as time passes. The celebration of Christ’s first coming at Christmas growing nearer as well). Thus, no candles are lit prior to the service. Some prefer to have the previous weeks’ candles lit prior to the service so only one candle is lit each week, thus adding light to those already lit. Feel free to use whichever method you prefer. Also, feel free to substitute a different prayer or song choice for the congregation at the end of each reading.

You’ll notice only the Christ candle is lit during the season of Christmas, December 25 – January 5. (12 days of Christmas) Some Christians extend this season to January 11, ending it with a celebration of Jesus’ baptism.

Click here for a post discussing the Christian understanding of Advent.
Click here for a brief history of the Advent Wreath.

Advent Wreath Prayers: Let in the Light © 2015 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.

Up a Pole: the Serpent and the Savior (John 3:14-18)

The Brazen Serpent Monument atop Mount Nebo in Jordan, is a serpentine cross sculpture created by Italian artist Giovanni Fantoni. It incorporates the bronze serpent created by Moses, the pillar of fire which led the people of God through the darkness of the wilderness, and the crucifixion of Christ. Photo by David Bjorgen via wikimedia commons.

John 3:14-18 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, (Numbers 21:4-9) so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

What was to be done with the brazen serpent? The text says, “Moses lifted it up;” and we read he was to lift it up upon a pole. Ah, dear friends, and Christ Jesus must be lifted up. He has been lifted up; wicked men lifted him up, when, with nails on an accursed tree, they crucified him! God the Father hath lifted him up; for he hath highly exalted him, far above principalities and powers.
– Charles Hadden Spurgeon, The Mysteries of the Brazen Serpent

“Look to Christ.” For remember the brazen serpent was lifted up, that every one in the camp who was bitten might live; and now Christ is lifted up to you, that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Sinner, the devil says you are shut out; tell him that “whosoever” shuts out none. Oh that precious word, “whosoever.” Poor soul, I see thee clutch at it and say, “Then, Sir, if I believe, he will not cast me away.” I see the harlot in all her guilt bemoaning her iniquity; she says it is impossible that Christ should save. But she hears it said, “Whosoever,” and she looks and lives! Remember, it mattered not how old they were, nor how much bitten they were, nor whereabouts in the camp they lived; they did but look and live. And now ye that have grown grey in iniquity, whose hairs might rather be black than white, if they showed forth your character, for it has been blackened by years of vice. Remember there is the same Christ for big sinners as for little sinners; the same Christ for grey heads as for babes; the same Christ for poor as for rich; the same Christ for chimney sweeps as for monarchs; the same Christ for prostitutes as for saints: “Whosoever.”
– Charles Hadden Spurgeon, The Mysteries of the Brazen Serpent

Just as they who looked on that serpent perished not by the serpent’s bites,
so they who look in faith on Christ’s death are healed from the bites of sins.
– Augustine of Hippo

“Lifted up,” honored, looked up to.
We keep our yes on Jesus, and it gives us life.
“Lifted up” like the bronze serpent: on a pole.
Lifted up on a cross, not in honor but disgrace.
Jesus exposes our violence by suffering it
without cause, without recrimination,
exposes our fear
and our poor, snake-bitten need for healing.
Just suffers and forgives.
And that grace brings us to life.
– Steve Garnaas Holmes, Lifted Up

He must be lifted up, that hereby he may purchase salvation for all believers: all those who look to him by faith recover spiritual health, even as all that looked at that serpent recovered bodily health. – John Wesley

If the solution in Numbers was a snake raised up on a pole — because the problem was poisonous serpents on the ground; so in John if the solution is a human (the Word made flesh) on a pole, the problem must be the humans on the ground.
– Brian P. Stoffregen, Exegetical Notes at Crossmarks

Maybe the problem isn’t the humans on the ground; it’s that humans are of the ground. We are the children of Eden. We are dust and to dust we shall return. We are common, soiled, short-lived, and snake bit. On our own, our condition keeps us more with the serpent than the Savior. Yet, God’s creative love reaches out to us in Christ, supplying what our earthiness needs. The kiss of eternal life is blown our way. Will we reach out and catch it? – Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia <><

The event of the cross isn’t just an advertisement, or a show. It actually does something. The cross is effectual. Just like when the Israelites looked at the brazen serpent they were able to be healed, the cross has the power to heal and give life too. But, according to John, gazing upon it isn’t enough. You need to have faith. You need to be moved to believe. – Rick Morley, Lifted High- a relfection on John 3:14-21

The Cross bridges the gap, heals the breach, and ignites the reconciliation.
In every way, we are “saved.” – Steve Harper

Jesus was hung on— and held together —the cosmic collision of opposites (revealed in the very geometric sign of the cross). He let it destroy him, as his two nailed hands held all the great opposites safely together as one: the good and the bad thief, heaven and earth, matter and spirit, both sinners and saints gathered at his feet, a traditional Jew revealing a very revolutionary message to his and all religion, a naked male body revealing an utterly feminine soul. On the cross, Jesus becomes the Cosmic Christ.
Richard Rohr

Lord Jesus,
You are my righteousness, I am your sin.
You took on you what was mine; yet set on me what was yours.
You became what you were not, that I might become what I was not.
– Martin Luther

The Devil speaks:
Now then, Hades, mourn
And I join in unison with you in wailing.
Let us lament as we see
The tree which we planted
Changed into a holy trunk.
Robbers, murderers, tax gatherers, harlots,
Rest beneath it, and make nests
In its branches
In order that they might gather
The fruit of sweetness
From the supposedly sterile wood.
For they cling to the cross as the tree of life.
-Romanos, as translated by Marjorie Carpenter.

Tell me, Dear Tree
A Lenten hymn of sacrifice
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Meter- 86.86 double (CMD)
Suggested tune: KINGSFOLD (UMH #179)

Tell me dear tree on which my Lord,
my blessed Lord did hang,
How could you hold the spotless Lamb,
be party with the gang?
That cheerless day, that shadowy hour,
my blessed Savior died,
to free my soul for heavenly things,
O tree, you must have cried.

Yes all your fibers must have screamed
for you one time did live a green and growing tree, alive,
but your whole self did give
to be the instrument of death,
to be the very tree
to be the place for Christ to die
upon dark Calvary

But do I hear a shout of joy
from somewhere deep within?
Your duty done; the battle won
so all the world might win.
How beautiful your love for Him
He sewed it long ago
You bore the weight. You took the stain,
and now the world must know

The tree of death felt every wound,
felt all the pain and loss.
She loved her maker through it all,
was glad to be His cross.
Teach me dear tree on which my Lord
My precious Lord did die
To treasure grueling duties done
so Christ is lifted high

© 1992, revised 2009 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. Lisa is especially interested in collaborating with someone to set this text to original music.

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