Prayer- Something Greater (Matthew 12)

Jesus-CREATION-montage_artBased on Matthew 12:1-8

Something greater than the temple is here
Greater than rules, resolutions, clergy

Something greater than the temple is here
Greater than strategies, programs, campaigns

Something greater than the temple is here
Greater than institutions, boards, buildings

You are here, Son of man
Lord of the Sabbath
Lord of all

You are here, offering yourself
Have mercy on us that we may be mercy
Extend grace to us that we may be grace
Pour out your love upon us
that we may be your love and fully yours
Amen

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Prayer, Something Greater  © 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.

Church as Healer and Redeemer

Healing Touch by Frank Ordaz

The church taught me that though racism steals, kills and destroys,
the church can partner with God to restore, resurrect and heal.
Christena Cleveland, Everything I Know About Reconciliation I Learned in the Church

At the time, I had nothing going for me. Well, I had killer abs, but that really was about it. I was an angry, hostile, but ultimately just kind of injured young woman. But for some reason, Suzanne Lynch saw more in me – something no one else (most especially myself) could see. She dared to think I was something more than the mess I was in the moment. She believed that I was not irredeemable – that I was more than the sum total of my mistakes. And in the end, that whole Suzanne taking in Nadia thing was like, I don’t know… emotional venture capitalism on her part.
Nadia Bolz-Weber, A Eulogy of Sorts…

I think Christians have yet to learn the pattern of redemption. It is evil undone much more than evil ever perfectly avoided. It is disorder reconfigured in our hearts and minds— much more than demanding any perfect order to our universe. Much of the Christian religion has largely become “holding on” instead of letting go. But God, it seems to me, does the holding on (to us!), and we must learn the letting go (of everything else).
– Richard Rohr

It’s worth any sacrifice
however great or costly,
to see eyes that were listless,
light up again;
to see someone smile
who seemed to have forgotten
how to smile;
to see trust reborn
in someone
who no longer believed
in anything
or Anyone.
-Dom Helder Camara

Matthew 10:1
Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. … These twelve he sent out….

Apostle by Steve Garnaas Holmes
The word apostle means “sent.”

We are not given a mandate to judge
or an obligation to convert.
We are not required to argue religion.
We are given power to heal.

We need not muster up the strength.
We are given authority.
Christ is in us to heal.

May I be a healer today;
may I set free those who are bound
by spirits that diminish life.
May I cast out fear with love,
cast out greed with wisdom,
cast out anxiety with calm,
cast out anger and bitterness with deep listening,
cast out hate with forgiveness.

May I bear your spirit of peace,
the authority of blessing,
the power of love.
May I be a healer today.

Sermon Recording- Our Father

lords prayer graphic 850x

Sermon Series: 57 Words That Changed the World
Messages on the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:5-15

Message: Our Father
Scripture: Matthew 6:5-15
Offered 4/03/16 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

The Lord’s Prayer informs, forms, and transforms us and the world. – Lisa Degrenia

God is the Father. Family is the church. – Willimon and Hauerwas, Lord Teach Us

Those who speak of having “a personal relationship with Christ,” are right, it is personal. But is it not private. We are all in this together. – Willimon and Hauerwas, Lord Teach Us

We ask you to begin by praying the Lord’s Prayer. This is the fount from which all Christian belief and action flows, the daily bending of our lives toward a God who has, in Jesus Christ, so graciously leaned toward us. – Willimon and Hauerwas, Lord Teach Us

Extended quote from Darrell W. Johnson, Fifty-Seven Words That Change the World
A number of years ago I was wrestling with this. I said to Jesus, “I like you prayer, but it would be so much more inviting for more people if you had taught us to pray the prayer to you. Where are you in this prayer?”

And in my mind I heard John 14:9, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” I sensed Jesus saying to me, The Father is just like me.” The Father, God the Father, is just as good, just as gentle, just as kind, just as approachable, just as vulnerable, just as welcoming, just as generous as Jesus. Jesus’ open arms are the open arms of his Father. Jesus’ open heart is the open heart of his Father. It is the passion of Jesus to help us know his Father as he knows him, to love his Father as he loves him, to trust his Father as he trusts him.

Worship Resources for this Message
Make us your children by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Heavenly Father,
Your reach extends to every person, every nation
Offering grace, forgiveness, wholeness, and hope
A saving embrace
Drawing us to you and each other

Make us your children
Grateful for a place in your family
Humble before your love and generosity
Faithful in honoring and welcoming all
Joyful in sharing what we have found in you
Amen.

Prayer by Pamela C Hawkins from The Awkward Season:Prayers for Lent
Teach me to pray, O Christ,
That your kingdom will come,
That your will be done,
That earth will become like heaven
For the hurt and the hurting,
The wounded and warring,
The hated and the hating.
Teach me to pray, O Christ, for the power is yours.
Amen.

Prayer by Sam Hamilton-Poore from Earth Gospel: A Guide to Prayer for God’s Creation
Help me, dear God,
to see my brother with the eyes of Christ,
to hear my sister with the ears of Christ,
to taste my neighbor’s hunger with the mouth of Christ,
to smell creation’s beauty with the nose of Christ,
to touch the world’s pain with the hands of Christ
and to love life, each life, every life,
with the heart of Christ.

Study Resources for this Message
Lord, Teach Us: The Lord’s Prayer & the Christian Life
by Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon

The Lord and His Prayer by N. T. Wright

Fifty-Seven Words that Change the World: A Journey through the Lord’s Prayer
by Darrell W. Johnson

A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer by W. Phillip Keller

Our Heavenly Father: Sermons on the Lord’s Prayer by Helmut Thielicke
Read it for free online!

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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.

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

Church as Communion of Saints, Cloud of Witnesses

cloud-of-witnesses

If you know the name of this work or the artist please let me know so I may give proper credit.

Hebrews 11:32-12:2 NRSV
And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

The saint is precisely one who has no “I” to protect or project. His or her “I” is in conscious union with the “I AM” of God, and that is more than enough. Divine union overrides any need for self-hatred or self-promotion. Such people do not need to be perfectly right, and they know they cannot be anyway, so they just try to be in right relationship. In other words, they try above all else to be loving. – Richard Rohr

Saints do not possess an extra layer of muscle. They are not taller, and they do not sport superior IQs. They are not richer, and their parents are not more clever than yours or mine. They have no bat-like perception that enables them to fly in the dark. They are flesh and blood, just like you and me, no stronger, no more intelligent. And that is the point. They simply offer themselves to God, knowing they are not the elite, fully cognizant that they are inadequate to the task, that their abilities are limited and fallible.
– James C. Howell, Servants, Misfits, and Martyrs

Authentic Christianity is an intensely personal matter, for the living Christ invades us at the core of our beings. But it is never a private affair just between us and God. The broader Christian community provides the means of support to stay on the road and the corrective against going down our own paths of self-obsession and sometimes self-destruction. – Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster, The Godbearing Life

Loving the Church often seems close to impossible. Still, we must keep reminding ourselves that all people in the Church – whether powerful or powerless, conservative or progressive, tolerant or fanatic – belong to that long line of witnesses moving through this valley of tears, singing songs of praise and thanksgiving, listening to the voice of their Lord, and eating together from the bread that keeps multiplying as it is shared. When we remember that, we may be able to say, “I love the Church, and I am glad to belong to it….Loving the Church is our sacred duty. Without a true love for the Church, we cannot live in it in joy and peace. And without a true love for the Church, we cannot call people to it. – Henri Nouwen

What we celebrate when we celebrate All Saints is not the superhuman faith and power of a select few but is God’s ability to use flawed people to do divine things. We celebrate all on whom God has acted in baptism, sealing them, as Ephesians says, with the mark of the promised Holy Spirit. We celebrate the fact that God creates faith in God’s people, and those people through ordinary acts of love, bring the Kingdom of Heaven closer to Earth. We celebrate that we have, in all who’ve gone before us, what St Paul calls such a great cloud of witnesses and that the faithful departed are as much the body of Christ as we are.
Nadia Bolz Weber, Sermon for All Saints Sunday: Small Acts of Love

Every now and then, something special happened, and my children asked questions about the saints and their work. We talked about racism and slavery in the United States when we remembered Absalom Jones and later Frederick Douglass. We talked about how sometimes people are killed for what they believe and for standing up for the poor and the oppressed when we remembered Polycarp. We talked about standing up for oneself and for others, even when the powerful disagree with you, when we remembered Martin Luther. We talked about poets, and teachers, and priests, and prophets modern and ancient. We talked about the women and men who lived holy lives. We learned about Christianity together, not through repetition of doctrine or theology or Christology but through seeing it in practice by people like us, our brothers and sisters in faith from all over the world. – David Henson, The Patron Saint of Poop: How My Kids Fell in Love with the Saints

You are witnesses of these things by Lena Warren
… Witnesses.
That’s an interesting designation.
a witness sees something, experiences something.

It’s kind of a passive thing, being a witness.
Something happens and you simply observe it. And that makes you a witness

Yet, we don’t tend to leave it like that.
We tend to think of one being a witness as someone who
is compelled to speak about the witnessing
and more than compelled to speak
to testify
to make claims
to have had the experience of simply observing change one’s life.

Witnesses.

The Greek word for witness is the same root word from which we get martyr.

One whose life bears witness
One whose life is changed by witnessing
and whose life is given to witnessing.

You are witnesses…

It’s as much a promise – of transformation that we have simply in seeing God at work

as it is an obligation
a call, a command,
a need placed on our hearts
first of all, to just simply notice what is happening
and then
to tell SOMEBODY what we’ve seen
what has changed us
what has made us new.
witnesses.

You are witnesses…

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

Sermon Recording: Love and Limits, a message in response to the Charleston AME murders

body diversity nation culture namesMessage: Love and Limits
Scripture: Revelation 7:9-17
Offered 6/21/15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL in response to the nine murders at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Click Here for the poem read during the message, Peace Stronger Than the Storm by Steve Garnaas Holmes.

Click Here for the post by Rick Warren referred to at the end of the sermon.

Click Here for a power point presentation of images and scriptures which scrolled during the prayer time following the sermon.

Following the prayer time, Revelation 7:9-17 was read, reminding us of God’s desire for all people. We then prayed the Lord’s Prayer together with an emphasis on “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We then lit nine candles, one for each of our murdered brothers and sisters- that their loved ones would be able to claim the light and love of Christ in the midst of their grief. We then lit a tenth candle with the same intention for the murderer, for all who carry out evil, and for all with evil in their hearts. We also recognized own own capacity evil thoughts, words and actions and our own need for the light and love of Christ.

Revelation 7:9-17 NRSV
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

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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.

© 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

 

Sermon Series Recordings: Building the Beloved Community, Messages from the One Another Passages

building the beloved community with frame
Sermon Series- Building the Beloved Community

At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

A look at other “one another” statements from Scripture helps us understand what Jesus’ command means for our day and age.

Message 1 of 5: Accept One Another
Scripture: Romans 15:5-7 NIV
Offered 9/7/14 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota
Recording Not Available

Message 2 of 5: Encourage One Another
Scripture: Hebrews 10:19-25, 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Offered 9/14/14 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota 

Message 3 of 5: Serve One Another
Scripture: Romans 12:9-10; Galatians 5:13-15
Offered 9/21/14 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota 

Message 4 of 5: Forgive One Another
Scripture: Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV
Offered 9/28/14 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota 

Message 5 of 5: Pray for One Another
Scripture: James 5:13-20
Offered 10/5/14 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota 

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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.

© 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Devotion: Each One Helps the Other (Isaiah 41:6-7)

Workers at the Boliden mining and smelting company in Rönnskär, Sweden. (1935) Photo by C.G. Rosenberg via Wikimedia Commons, adapted.

Workers at the Boliden mining and smelting company in Rönnskär, Sweden. (1935) Photo by C.G. Rosenberg via Wikimedia Commons, adapted.

Isaiah 41:6-7 NRSV
Each one helps the other,
saying to one another, “Take courage!”
The artisan encourages the goldsmith,
and the one who smooths with the hammer
encourages the one who strikes the anvil,
saying of the soldering, “It is good”;
and they fasten it with nails so that it cannot be moved.

This passage from Isaiah is part of a larger passage concerning trusting in the power of false gods rather than the power of the One True Living God. When trouble comes, those who do not pursue God try to handle it themselves. They huddle together to make better and stronger idols- thinking their wit, their skill, their power will turn the tide. How often believers cling to the same course of action. Lord have mercy. (Click here for a prayer on this topic entitled You Save us from Every Foe.)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, noticing this tendency in his own time and place, reminded us

Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial … They enter the community of Christians with their demands set up by their own law, and judge one another and God accordingly. It is not we who build. Christ builds the church.

Yet, I couldn’t help being struck (haha pun intended) by the mutual encouragement and teamwork of this passage. Instead of going it alone, they join together. What would it be like to redirect these good gifts from trying to save ourselves into intentional, mutual cooperation with one another and the movement of the Holy Spirit? Isn’t this what it means to be God’s people? – Lisa <><

Each one helps the other
Lending a hand
Recognizing the gifts
Teaming up to create something
Strong and Beautiful and Lasting

“Take Courage!” one cries
All hear and are heartened
“It is Good!” another declares
Spurring on the grueling, brutal labor
It is hard and it is good
It is worthy work

One could not do it
But many can
many gifts, one spirit

And how much more
When many become
One in Spirit
One with Spirit

Holy One
Make us one
One in desiring
One in trusting
One for the Greater Good
One with one another
One with You
One in You
One for You
Amen

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Each One Helps the Other © 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.