Raise a Hallelujah, another prayer of praise

Say it aloud- Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
The same word is said all over the world

Hallelujah!
A word of praise and belief
A word of trust and hope

Hallelujah!
A word beyond circumstance
A word beyond words

Hallelujah!

Jesus, we raise to you a Hallelujah!
Your victory is secure
It is true, eternal
Nothing can touch it
Nothing can stop it
Hallelujah!

Jesus, we raise a Hallelujah because of your presence
Your presence with us in the midst of the storm
In the midst of the need

Your presence with us in the middle of the night
Your presence with us in the brightness of day
Your presence with us in every breath
Hallelujah!

You are near
You are good
You are strong to save
Hallelujah!

This prayer was inspired by the song Raise a Hallelujah by Jonathan David Helser and Melissa Helser, Bethel Music

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Raise a Hallelujah, another prayer of praise © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
by Lisa Degrenia (www.revlisad.com)
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

When the Spirit Chases You With the Message You Need to Hear

Freedom - A sculpture by Zenos Frudakis

Freedom by Zenos Frudakis

Themes of slavery and freedom keep chasing me this Lenten season.

The message seems to come from random places, but I’m confident this isn’t random. I trust the Holy Spirit is working all of this together for my good. There’s something I need to know and I need to know it now.

First, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 came up in my Scripture Reading Plan
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

This got me thinking about shrouds and shackles and slavery. How am I bound? It also got me thinking about the Spirit’s promise of seeing clearly and freedom.

In my morning sacred reading, I’m making my way through Jesus, a Pilgrimage by James Martin, SJ. It’s glorious and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

A couple of days after the Corinthians passage, my book reading discusses the raising of Lazarus from John 11. More shrouds and shackles! Lazarus is wrapped up like a mummy. The first scripture talked about slavery to condemnation and the law. Now it’s expanded to include slavery to sin and death.

And again the Good News- New Life, Resurrection, and Freedom in Christ! Unbind him!

Selections from John 11:34-44
34 Jesus said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” … 38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. … 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

soar by scott erickson

Soar by Scott Erickson

Then came the scriptures associated with Sunday’s sermon on God freeing the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. We serve a God who saves, a God who delivers us from shackles and shame and sin and death. That is our God!

Check out this promise from Exodus 16:6-7. In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord. 

Then this picture came my way. Soar by Scott Erickson. Isn’t it fantastic! All of his work is fresh and powerful.

This piece says to me, “Freedom in the Spirit.” I love the color, the movement, the joy, the flow, the overshadowing companionship.

This reminds me of what my friend Jenny Gehman said the Spirit told her about her word for the year, SOAR. The Spirit said to her, “SOAR- Sweetheart, Open And Rise.”

grit and virtue kimberly mead freedomThen this quote from Kimberly Mead via the great folks at Grit and Virtue. In freedom there is rest. Slaves don’t rest. Sabbath rest, Soul rest, is the fruit of freedom.

So here I am, praying for eyes to see and ears to hear as the Spirit continues to reveal what this means for me. What might all this mean for you, dear one? – Lisa <><

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When the Spirit Chases You With a Message You Need to Hear
© 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
(by Lisa Degrenia, revlisad.com)
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

What I Learned Making Matzo

Sermon Series Bread 1110 x 624Lenten Sermon Series: Bread
This sermon series was inspired by the book Taste and See: Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers, and Fresh Food Makers by Margaret Feinberg.

Message 1 of 5: Matzo and Manna
Scriptures: Deuteronomy 16:1-3; Exodus 16:13-15
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 3/1/2020 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of the entire contemporary worship service, including the message which starts at the 33-minute mark.

Andrew McGowanThis is Andrew McGowan. He’s Australian. He’s an Episcopal priest and seminary professor. He’s the Dean of the Divinity School at Yale and an expert in ancient bread making.

Last week we passed out copies of one of his recipes. Andrew’s 18-Minute Kosher Matzo

If we’re thinking about bread in the Scriptures, we have to start at the beginning with the unleavened bread of those running for their freedom from slavery under Pharoah. The Bread of Affliction.

Deuteronomy 16:1-3, The Passover Remembrance Instructions
1 Observe the month of Abib by keeping the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night. 2 You shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the Lord your God, from the flock and the herd, at the place that the Lord will choose as a dwelling for his name. 3 You must not eat with it anything leavened. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it—the bread of affliction—because you came out of the land of Egypt in great haste, so that all the days of your life you may remember the day of your departure from the land of Egypt.

matzo ingredientsWhat I Learned Making Matzo-
The Bread of Affliction

Last night at about 10:00 pm, I decided to make matzo. I had to come over to the church to get a rolling pin. We didn’t have one. I don’t bake.

Prepare- I had to gather the ingredients. How different was my experience than that of folks in the ancient world, especially slaves? They had to grind the grain into flour by hand. They had to gather the water by hand in the heat of the desert. Was it bitter? Was it nearby? They had to gather whatever they used to make fire by hand.

All I had to do was turn on the oven. But I had to wait for the oven to heat to 490°. A blazing, oppressive 490°. As I waited, I began to imagine the slaves waiting for freedom. The longing. The praying for deliverance for hundreds of years, for generations.

What deliverance have I been praying for for a long long time? My weight. My perfectionism. Who else this very night is longing and praying for deliverance? What’s on their heart?

As I’m waiting, I’m looking at the ingredients. There’s only two- water and flour. No oil. No spices. Not even salt. It is the bread of affliction. I’m baking old fashioned paste.

For the slaves, there was never enough. They were always scraping, always hungry. They made do with so little.

The oven is ready and its time to begin. Real matzo is finished in 18 minutes or less, start to finish. I wound my old school tick, tick, tick timer. On your mark, get set, go.

I began working the water and flour together with my hands like they would have. I used spelt flour, a flour of the ancient world. It has a darker color and rougher texture than refined, white flour. It’s brown. The color of mud.

My mind went to the slaves working the mud into bricks. With tools. With their hands. It the heat of the desert. Soul-breaking as well as back-breaking work.

18 minutes- tick tick tick tick. It’s just sitting there on the counter laughing at me. Will there be enough time? For the slaves, there was never enough time. Never enough time to do all the work for Pharaoh. Tick Tick Tick Tick. Lash of the whip. Shouts of the overseers.

Never enough time. Never enough time. Tick tick tick tick. Never enough time to rest. Rest? There was no rest, you’re a slave.

Exodus 1:13-14
The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

We can’t begin to imagine how bad it was – ruthless is in there twice. Bitter water. Bitter bread. Bitter lives. I can’t think too much. Tick tick tick tick

matzo doughTime to divide the dough into 4 pieces. Division. The divide between the rulers and the slaves. Power and oppression. Division due to fear, injustice, prejudice. God calls us to be peacemakers, to end division. I can’t think about that too much. Time is moving, tick tick tick tick

Time to roll out the dough. Push and pull and push and pull. This is work. I don’t bake. Push and pull and push and pull tick, tick, tick tick.

Work harder. Work faster. Make bread. Make bread without salt. Make bricks. Make bricks without straw. Tick tick tick tick

Then I realized, I am making slave food! I am literally making slave food. Thousands of years later and slavery hasn’t ended. Thousands of years later. Cant’ think about that too much. Tick tick tick tick

The dough became so thin, so fragile. How fragile life is. How fragile life was. Would it tear as I lifted it from the counter to the parchment paper?

Once it’s on the parchment paper you have to take a fork and pierce it. Stab, stab, stab, stab. It’s brutal. The brutality of the slave drivers, of their lives, even their food. Where in my life am I using my words and power in a brutal way?

Mocking, whipping, injustice, stab stab stab stab- a crown of thorns, stab – a spear in the side. My Jesus! The brutality Jesus experienced that we might be free from slavery to sin and death and shame.

matzo finishedI get it into the oven and wonder- what will happen?

Exodus 2:23-25
The Israelites groaned under their slavery and cried out. Out of the slavery, their cry for help rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God looked upon the Israelites, and God took notice of them.

What’s going to happen with all the slavery, shackles, division, and brutality? God takes notice. God hears our cries.

At first, there was not enough time to work, not enough time to rest. Then there was not enough time to prepare to leave. The Israelites are going. God is saving them. They’re heading out through the sea and through the wilderness and into the promised land.

It is time to leave. Leave, leave now. Tick tick tick tick. In the middle of the night, leave this slavery for freedom. Leave this slavery for home.

That’s what happened to them and that’s what can happen for us. It’s time to leave the slavery for freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom…

Exodus 16:13-15
13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.”

What is it? It is manna which literally means, “what is it?.” God frees us and provides for us.

This is manna, not matzo.

Matzo is the bread of Pharaoh. The bread of affliction, slavery, brutality, prejudice, division, exploitation, fear…

God gives manna, the bread of heaven. So different I can’t even wrap my head around it.

What is it?
It’s manna, the bread of heaven.
It’s sweet. It’s flaky. It’s freely given.
I don’t have to push and pull and strive.

It’s rest, freely given.
I’m no longer a slave.
I can sabbath.

Freedom, freely given.

Grace, freely given.

New life, freely given.

New every morning,
day after day after day after day…
for them and for us

Exodus 16:6-7
“…In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning, you will see the glory of the LORD…”

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Sermon- Matzo and Manna © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Refuge, Strength, Near: A Prayer Based on Psalm 46

god refuge strength Psalm 46-1

Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:7
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Psalm 46:11
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Holy and Mighty God
You are our refuge and strength
You are near- a present help well proved

You are victorious over every conflict-
every division, destruction, and deficiency
The conflict between nations
The conflict within my own nation
The conflict in my city
My family
Your church
The conflict in my heart

You are my refuge… my refuge… my refuge
You are my strength… my strength… my strength
You are near… near… near
A present help well proved

I am in awe before you
I am safe and seen before you
I am humble
I need you
I am grateful
I am yours
I am still

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Refuge, Strength, Near © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Based on Psalm 46

You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
by Lisa Degrenia, revlisad.com
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Ash Wednesday: A Wilderness Prayer (Deuteronomy 8)

man desert path

God of the Ages
Our Deliverer and Provider
We bow in humility before your grace

You feed us with the divine
Your word
Your body

You quench our thirst with living water
A stream in the desert

You guide our feet through snares and snakes

You free us from slavery to sin and self and shame and death

You lead us the long way to holiness and home

Test our hearts
Have we exalted ourselves?
Have we forgotten you?

time of silent reflection and confession

Reveal the truth to us, O God
Exposed by your unrelenting light
Wiped clean with your Wilderness Wind

Grow in us wholehearted allegiance
that our blessing and devotion may never waver
that we may always recognize and trust your desire to do us good
Amen

For more on the themes of wilderness and confession, pray and reflect on Desert by Steve Garnaas Holmes.

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A Wilderness Prayer © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Based on Deuteronomy 8:2-3; 14-16

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.