Growing in Resilience: Hold Nothing Back, based on Isaiah 54.9-10

flower peach bud openingGrowing in Resilience
Day 15, Read Isaiah 54
Reflection: Hold Nothing Back, based on Isaiah 54:9-10, NRSV

This is like the days of Noah to me: Just as I swore that the waters of Noah would never again go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Sing! Shout!
Hold nothing back!

We are not what we think we are
What others name us
What we name ourselves

We are not abandoned
Widowed
Forsaken
Cast off for someone more desirable
The Eternal is also our Beloved
Who upholds our sacred union
An everlasting covenant of peace
Of whole and holy love

We are not afflicted
Desolate
Disgraced
Shamed and grieved by our barrenness
Look! See! There is a heritage
Our breath and labor are not in vain

Quick! Enlarge the tent
Open and stretch to make room
For the gathering and birthing of the Beloved comes
Hold nothing back

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Hold Nothing Back © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Receive, a call to faith based on Galatians 3

holy-spirit-outpouring-deborah-brown

Holy Spirit Outpouring by Deborah Brown

Receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. – Galatians 3:14

Receive the promise of a covenant kept
Timeless, Steadfast
Anchor your soul in it

Receive the promise of a covenant fulfilled
You are a descendant of Abraham by faith
Heir of the blessing, God’s glorious riches, and a home forever

Receive the promise of life
No curse can name you, claim you
Christ bore it all for you
Nothing shall prevail against it
Nothing shall separate you from it

Receive the promise of belonging
Worldly labels and limits break down
In God’s presence and saving love

Receive the promise of the Spirit
God’s constant companionship
Leading, Mentoring, Correcting
Fire, Favor, Empowerment, Provision
Meaning and Purpose and Light
Unending Light

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Receive © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

You are welcome to use this prayer in a worship or devotional setting with proper attribution. Please leave a comment for publishing and posting consideration.

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Son of David (2 Samuel 7, Matthew 1, Revelation 22)

Jesus, The Coming Messiah
Jesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 6: The Messiah as Son of David
Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-17; Revelation 22:16

2 Samuel 7:16, The Voice
God makes a covenant promise to King David
Your dynasty, your kingdom, will stand perpetually in My sight; your descendants will rule continually.

Matthew 1:1, The Voice
This is the family history, the genealogy, of Jesus the Anointed, the coming King. You will see in this history that Jesus is descended from King David, and that He is also descended from Abraham.

Revelation 22:16, The Voice
I, Jesus, have sent My messenger to show you and guide you so that you in turn would share this testimony with the churches. I am the Root and the Descendant of David, the Bright Morning Star.

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
Who fulfills God’s promise
A King forever, A Kingdom without end

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Our long awaited Messiah
Our Savior, Our Deliverer

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord

Eternal One,
We wonder and marvel at your constancy
You alone are steadfast
Unwavering across the ages

You, remembering, gathering a covenant people
You, remembering, fulfilling your covenant promises
You, patiently tending your family tree

We remember You and your greatness
We stand to honor and revere you
We bow in humility and thankfulness

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Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible Reading Plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered? I look forward to your comments.

If you’re in Sarasota, please drop by Trinity United Methodist Church for one of our seasonal events or services or just to say, “Hi.” You’re always welcome and wanted.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <

The Messiah as Son of David © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Only Beloved Son and Sacrifice (Genesis 22, John 3)

Jesus, The Coming Messiah
Jesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 2: The Messiah as Only Beloved Son and Sacrifice
Readings: Genesis 22:1-18; John 3:16-17

Genesis 22:12, The Voice
Don’t lay your hand on the boy or do anything to harm him. I know now that you respect the one True God and will be loyal to Him and follow His commands, because you were willing to give up your son, your only son, to Me.

John 3:16-17, The Voice
For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. Here’s the point. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction.

This story is sometimes referred to as the sacrifice of Isaac. In other places it is called the sacrifice of Abraham. It is one of the most powerful and disturbing stories in all scripture. God instructs Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his beloved son, his long awaited child of promise.

Isaac was to be the first of a great nation; of countless descendants. “Like the sand on the shore…like the stars in the sky… a blessing to the nations,” God vowed. How would this happen if Isaac was dead?

Abraham does not seem to question. He seems to moves forward with purpose- obedient, full of faith and resolve.

Isaac asks about the sacrifice, and Abraham replies, “God will supply.” (verse 8.) Is his voice strong and confident or does it crack and catch with emotion? Does Abraham wonder if Isaac is the sacrifice God has provided? We do not know. What else was said? Again we do not know. The two fall silent as the altar is built, as Isaac is bound and laid upon the wood.

God the Father stops the sacrifice of Father Abraham’s beloved, promised son. Whatever needed to be confirmed in Abraham has been found.

As Abraham said, God the Father indeed provides the sacrifice for that day and later the sacrifice for all time- a beloved, promised Son. In the mystery of Trinity, God is Father and Son and Sacrifice and Savior. God alone is bound and laid upon the wood. No blood will be shed but God’s own. – Lisa Degrenia

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
Beloved Son who makes the way for us to be children of God

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Sacrifice of the ages for our forgiveness and salvation

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Heaven and earth fall silent before such wondrous love

What will you ask of me?
How will you test my reverence and loyalty?
In that moment I pray I will be found willing
And faithful
And worthy
That I will know beyond all doubt the command is from you
And in that knowing, I will trust you
Hand steady
Mind focused
Ears tuned to your next command

Help me remember, You will provide
Here I am

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Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible Reading Plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered? I look forward to your comments.

If you’re in Sarasota, please drop by Trinity United Methodist Church for one of our seasonal events or services or just to say, “Hi.” You’re always welcome and wanted.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <

The Messiah as Only Beloved Son and Sacrifice © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Help me Walk Your Path Instead of Mine (Genesis 17)

life-choices path journeyBased on Genesis 17:1, 9-10, 15-22

Lord God, bless my plan
my Ishmael
the fruit of my answer to a desperate need
the child of my own strengths and the pressure of others

“I am God Almighty, walk before me and be blameless.”

What have I done?
Forgive me
Help me
I am foolish and shortsighted

Your ways are higher and harder than mine
Your ways take patience and steadfast trust
Your ways are beyond my strength,
there is no doubt the answer is yours

Forgive me
Deliver me from me
Help me walk your path instead of mine

Make me a covenant keeper
Make me an instrument of your saving love
that generations would come to your blessing
that generations would come to be a part of your forever family

Increase my faith
Increase my trust
so my choices always point to your power and grace
Amen

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Help me walk your path instead of mine © 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.

Simple Ceremony for the Renewal of Marriage Vows

we still do
It would be easy to modify this simple ceremony for several couples renewing their vows at the same time. For example, it’s the tradition of my congregation, Trinity United Methodist Church in Sarasota FL, to offer a renewal of marriage vows every year the Sunday before Saint Valentine’s Day as part of morning worship. This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday. The couples celebrating an anniversary in multiples of 5 (5, 10, 15, 20, etc.) this year are invited to stand before the congregation while the other couples participate from the pews.

Greetingoffered by the Pastor or other officiant
God is love, those who abide in love abide in God,
and God abides in them. (1 John 4:16b)

Friends, we are gathered together in the sight of God
to bear witness to Name the Couple
as they renew their wedding vows.
We come to share in their joy and to ask God to bless them.

Declaration of Intention
In his sacrificial love on Calvary,
Jesus gave us the example of the love
between a husband and wife.

Fully acknowledging the great sacrifices and joys that have been
and those that lie ahead,
I ask you now in the presence of God
to declare your intention to remain in sacred, lifelong union with each other
to reaffirm your commitment to the covenant of marriage,
God being your helper and foundation.

Exchange of Vows
The couple may repeat the vows as they are read by the pastor/officiant or the vows may be read by the couple from a program or card.
I, _________________, give myself to you again as your husband.
to have and to hold from this day forward,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish
forsaking all others
until we are parted by death
recognizing the promise of life everlasting
and love everlasting.
This is my solemn vow.

I, _________________, give myself to you again as your wife.
to have and to hold from this day forward,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish
forsaking all others
until we are parted by death
recognizing the promise of life everlasting
and love everlasting.
This is my solemn vow.

Blessing of the Marriageby the Pastor/Officiant
Most gracious God, we give you thanks for your tender love
and for reconsecrating the marriage covenant of these couples

Grant that their love for each other may reflect the love of Christ for us
and grow from strength to strength.

Defend them from every enemy.

Let their love for each other be a seal upon their hearts,
a mantle about their shoulders, and a crown upon their heads.

Bless them in their work and in their companionship;
in their sleeping and in their waking;
in their joys and in their sorrows;
in their lives and in their deaths.

Finally, by your grace,
bring them and all of us into your heavenly home forever;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who with you and the Holy Spirit
lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The couples are invited to kiss.

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Renewal of Marriage Vows, compilation and adaptation
© 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording: Blessing to the Nations (Genesis 26:1-6, 1 Peter 2:9-10)

people cross

Message: A Blessing to the Nations
Scripture: Genesis 26:1-6; 1 Peter 2:9-10
Offered 7/5/15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL at a service of prayer for our nation.

What is the heart of America?
At our worst: Ambition, Self Interest, Profit at all cost
At our best: Hope, Opportunity, Freedom

At our best, the heart of America is to be a blessing. The Founding Fathers understood this when they ratified the constitution.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Emma Lazarus understood this when she wrote the sonnet “The New Colossus” to help raise money to build the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Her poem forever named Lady Liberty’s purpose- to be a welcoming mother, a symbol of hope to the outcasts and downtrodden of the world.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the US, understood this when he made a speech at the dedication of a statue of Francis Asbury in our nation’s capital.

“Our government rests upon religion. It is from that source that we derive our reverence for truth and justice, for equality and liberty, and for the rights of mankind. Unless the people believe in these principles they cannot believe in our government. There are only two main theories of government in the world. One rests on righteousness, the other rests on force. One appeals to reason, the other appeals to the sword. One is exemplified in a republic, the other is represented by a despotism…. Our government rests upon religion. The religious movement which Francis Asbury represented was distinctly a movement to reach the great body of the people. Just as our Declaration of Independence asserts that all men are created free, so it seems to me the founders of this [Methodist] movement were inspired by the thought that all men were worthy to hear the Word, worthy to be sought out and brought to salvation. It was this motive that took their preachers among the poor and neglected, even to criminals in the jails. As our ideal has been to bring all men to freedom, so their ideal was to bring all men to salvation.”

In the end it doesn’t matter if America is at its worst or at its best. In the power of the Holy Spirit we – God’s own people – will be the blessing God calls us to be.

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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.