What I Need (John 20)

Jesus appears to disciples

by Ed de Guzman

In John 20:19-29, Jesus appears to the disciples twice following his resurrection from the dead. The first time, Thomas isn’t there. Maybe he’s out getting supplies. Maybe he’s seeing other disciples who are hiding in another location. Maybe he’s gathering information or caring for someone or the only one brave enough to head out into the streets knowing the danger. We simply don’t know Thomas’ reasons or motivation.

When he returns, there’s great excitement about Jesus’ appearance. That’s understandable. Thomas’ response is also understandable. He wants what the other disciples now have. He wants to see Jesus, too.

Imagine what Thomas is thinking that long week between appearances. I imagine Thomas doubting himself far more than Jesus.

  • Why didn’t Jesus wait till we were all here?
  • Is Jesus mad at me or disappointed in me?
  • Did he abandon me as I abandoned him?
  • Was I not worthy of seeing him?
  • Will he come again?

Jesus does come again and gives Thomas what he needs. Jesus does the same for us as well. – Lisa <><

Jesus, you give me what I need
What I need to believe
What I need to live

Like my brother Thomas,
I lay the doubting down
You come for me
You want me as well
You want us all

The gift of your presence is for me
The gift of your peace is for me
So too the power of your Spirit
The very Breath of Life
Abundant Life in your name

Jesus, you give me what I need
Seeing
Signs
Spirit
Wounds
Words
Wonder
Peace
Power
Sending
Oh My Jesus
My Lord and My God

****************
What I need © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The Songs of Christmas: Mary Did You Know? (Luke 1.26-38)

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
December 23: Mary, Did You Know? by Mark Lowry (CCLI #839225)
Scripture: Luke 1:26-38
These are the notes from a message offered Sunday, 12/23/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Today we’ll look at one of the newest Christmas songs, “Mary, Did You Know?” As you listen to the lyrics, imagine it’s the first Christmas, and you’re with Mary who’s holding the infant Jesus.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you

 Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with His hand? Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? And when you kiss your little baby you’ve kissed the face of God

 Mary, did you know? The blind will see. The deaf will hear. And the dead will live again. The lame will leap. The dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb.

 Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations? Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb? This sleeping child you’re holding is the Great I Am

“Mary, Did You Know?” walks through the scriptures to tell us about Christ

  • Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament
    1. “save our sons and daughters” from Isaiah 43:6
    2. Messiah’s work of deliverance/liberator, referring to the slaves’ deliverance from Egypt and our deliverance from slavery to sin and death and shame
    3. I AM reference to Moses and the burning bush
    4. Lamb references to the Passover in Exodus
    5. References to the creation story in Genesis
  • Do you see references to Jesus’ earthly ministry in the Gospels?
    1. walk on water
    2. healing the blind/deaf/dumb/lame
    3. calming the storm
    4. raising the dead
    5. John the Baptist referring to Jesus as the Lamb of God
  • Christs’ victorious, cosmic reign (Christus Victor)
    1. has walked where angels trod
    2. Lord of all creation
    3. Heaven’s perfect Lamb praised in eternity
    4. Ruler of the nations
    5. Great I Am

We look at these lyrics with the benefit of the scriptures and generations of Christians who have shared the story. But, what did Mary know?

  • Some think Mary didn’t know anything. She was sweet, clueless, young, uneducated, and blindly obedient.
  • Some see Mary as a pawn who had no choice. The Holy Spirit overwhelmed her. Taken to an extreme, God raped Mary.

What do you think? Did Mary know? Did she give consent? Why do you think this?

Mary knew and Mary consented (Luke 1:26-38, The Annunciation)
26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom, there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

  1. Gabriel tells Mary. There are 7 disclosers of who Jesus is in this passage plus Mary’s consent.
  2. Elizabeth tells Mary
    1. Luke 1:43 And why has this happened to me that the mother of my Lord comes to me
  3. The angels tell the shepherds who tell Mary
    1. Luke 2:11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
    2. Luke 2:16-19 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.
  4. Simeon and Anna tell Mary
    1. Luke 2:29-35 29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

History of Mary, Did You Know?  
We also have the intent of the author. In 1984, Mark Lowry was asked to write the Christmas program for his alma mater, Liberty University.

Lowry remembers:
“As I wrote the ‘speaking parts’ I began to think about Mary. I have always been fascinated with the concept that God came to earth…. One thing they couldn’t take from Mary was that she knew her Child was not ordinary.

As my mind went back to the manger scene, I began to think about the power, authority, and majesty she cradled in her arms. Those little lips were the same lips that had spoken worlds into existence. All of those things were contained in the young child lying quietly on her bosom. Even now, he was the very one who had given life to his mother, Mary.

I began writing a list of questions I would like to ask Mary if I could sit down with her.”

Lowry carried his lyrics with him for the next seven years. In 1991, he asked his good friend, Buddy Greene, to write suitable music for his poem. Since then, the song’s been recorded by many artists and has sold over 1 million copies.

Mary Joseph tired

Mary knew her child would be the Messiah, but she didn’t have all the answers. Neither did Joseph. There were many, many, many questions. What would it mean? What would it look like? Mary knew but then faced the reality of living it.

You can be a person of faith and still have questions, even doubts. You don’t have to have all the answers wrapped up in a nice, neat box.

Mary didn’t know everything but she still stepped out in faith. How many of us are waiting to get the answers together and get our act together before we place our trust in Christ or before we’re baptized or before we serve? The evil one uses our questions to shut us down.

All these “Mary Did you Know?” questions are rhetorical questions. God uses them to open us up. Open up space for curiosity, wonder, imagining, contemplation. They open us to worship, to be in awe of God with us to love and save us. They open us to the mystery of God’s grace and greatness in a frail, vulnerable child.

Luke 2:19 says, “Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

The faithful question and ponder
The faithful listen and learn and know some things
The faithful step out in faith even when they don’t have all the answers

***********
CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.

The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.

Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is the big idea?
    • Why is it important?
    • How does this truth connect with my life?
  • Have a conversation with God about this truth.
  • Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.

Additional Ideas:

  • Journal your reflections
  • Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
  • Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
  • Sing or listen to the song
  • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <

************
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The 2016 TED Talk Experiment- Week 8

TED talk blog graphic 2
Back from vacation and back to TED.

10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation
Celeste Headlee
TEDx Creative Coast, April 2015
1. Be present. 2. Enter every conversation assuming you have something to learn. Be prepared to be amazed. 3. Ask open ended questions 4. Let ideas come and go in order to stay listening 5. Think of the conversation as “on the record”- be precise with what you claim 6. It’s not about you- do not self promote, do not presume your similar experience is their experience 7. Try not to repeat yourself 8. Forget the details, go for the big idea or emotion 9. Listen, listen, listen – if your mouth is open, you’re not learning 10. Be brief- be interested in other people

A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit
Judson Brewer
TEDMED 2015 Palm Springs California, November 2015
Being mindful (curiously aware) helps us step out of our fear based habit patterns as we step into being. Mindfulness leads to disenchantment with the hurtful behavior which can lead to a transformation of the trigger, behavior, reward cycle.

Dive Into an Ocean Photographer’s World
Thomas Peschak
Mission Blue II Solomon Islands, October 2015
“The best way for me to effect change is to sell love.” Conservation Photographer Thomas Peschak fell in love with the beauty and importance of our oceans at a young age. Through his photographs, he encourages us to do the same. “You can’t love something and become a champion for it if you don’t know it exists.”

The Doubt Essential to Faith
Lesley Hazleton
TED Global 2013 Edinburgh Scotland, June 2013
Fascinating retelling of Mohamed’s reactions to receiving his first revelation of the Koran- doubt, fear, despair. “Abolish all doubt and what is left is not faith but absolute, heartless conviction…. Absolutism is the opposite of faith.”

Everyday Leadership
Drew Dudley
TEDx Toronto 2010, September 2010
“We need to get over our fear of how extraordinarily powerful we can be in each other’s lives. We need to get over it so we can move beyond it.” Leadership isn’t about changing the world, it’s about changing a person’s perception of what they’re capable of, how much they are loved, how valuable they are, how much influence they have for the greater good.

******************
I’m trying an experiment in 2016. Maybe you’d like to try it with me.

Here’s where I am
I’m tired of the spin. I’m tired of ideas, news, and entertainment really being one long sales pitch for profit or power.

I’m longing for creativity, curiosity, and inspiration. I’m in search of passionate people willing to speak to the truth and complexity of living with a heart of hope. I want to hear from authentic humans who are in the trenches working for the greater good.

I think I’ve found them in the TED community.

“TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On TED.com, we’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other, both online and at TED and TEDx events around the world, all year long.”

TED’s been around for 30 years. I’ve heard about them and even watched a couple of talks, but I’ve never spent any concentrated time mining the good stuff. So….

Here’s the plan
Watch 5 enthusiastic, inspiring TED Talk presenters a week for a year.
Apply and share the goodness.

Prayer: The Hidden Net (Psalm 31.1-5)

 

frodo captured by spider

Frodo captured by the spider, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

 

Psalm 31:1-5 NRSV
In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

There is a net that is hidden
It lies in the shadows
Blends into the background
Covert
Camouflaged
It waits patiently

It is just for me
It knows my weakness
Seizing my energy
Ensnaring me in falsehood
Entangling me in triggers
Wrapping me like a fly in a web
Sticky and shrouded in doubt and despair

Deliver me, my Refuge
Hear my cry, my Rock
My Righteous Redeemer

Through the power of your Son and Spirit
Liberate me from this entombing trap
Free me to your will and way

I seek You
You alone
Into Your hand, I commit my spirit

*************
When I first read this Psalm, I imagined a fishing net hidden in murky water. The feelings of entrapment and terror took me to the scene from Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King when Frodo loses his way in the shadowy cave and is captured by the spider’s deadly web.

In the midst of his greatest need, Frodo is both swaddled like a baby (birth) and wrapped like a mummy (death). Sam, his faithful companion, later delivers him, for he was not himself and could not save himself. How like the deliverance of our faithful God, who companions us and champions us. Consider Lazarus bound for death but called forth from the tomb by Jesus, the victorious resurrection of Jesus himself, and the promise of new life for all who believe. (Romans 6:3-4) – Lisa <><

Prayer: The Hidden Net © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information to publish this work in any form.

The Wounds of Christ

John 19:31-34 (NRSV)
Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.

Extended quote from Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer by Richard Rohr 
The significance of Jesus’ wounded body is his deliberate and conscious holding of the pain of the world and refusing to send it elsewhere. The wounds were not necessary to convince God that we were lovable; the wounds are to convince us of the path and the price of transformation. They are what will happen to you if you face and hold sin in compassion instead of projecting it in hatred.

Jesus’ wounded body is an icon for what we are all doing to one another and to the world. Jesus’ resurrected body is an icon of God’s response to our crucifixions. The two images contain the whole message of the Gospel.

A naked, bleeding, wounded, crucified man is the most unlikely image for God, a most illogical image for Omnipotence (which is most peoples’ natural image of God). Apparently, we have got God all wrong! Jesus is revealing a very central problem for religion, by coming into the world in this most unexpected and even unwanted way. The cross of Jesus was a mirror held up to history, so we could utterly change our normal image of God.

John 20:19-20 (NRSV)
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Maybe some of our scars won’t follow us into resurrection, I don’t know. But Jesus had scars on his resurrected body. On his hands, on his feet, on his sides. Scars that proved that he lived, and that he loved. Scars that remind me of who he is and how he loves. He let Thomas touch them. Maybe someday he’ll let me touch them.
– Jordyn Osburn, I have stretch marks

The Lord showed his wounds to convince them beyond a doubt that it was not a fantasy or an apparition. A week later he shows his wounds to Thomas. The resurrected body still bore these proofs of his suffering and love. Sixty years later, when John, at Patmos, saw the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, he beheld “a Lamb as it had been slain.” Perhaps our Lord in glory continues to bear the marks of the cross. Perhaps these will forever, as we gaze in glory, remind us of the story of our redemption. – B. W. Johnson

Rather than Thomas should suffer from unbelief, Christ will let him take great liberties. Our Lord does not always act towards us according to his own dignity, but according to our necessity; and if we really are so weak that nothing will do but thrusting a hand into his side, he will let us do it. Nor do I wonder at this: if, for our sakes, he suffered a spear to be thrust there, he may well permit a hand to follow. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Evidence of Our Lord’s Wounds

Caravaggio’s painting illumines a point that the Gospel writers are keen to make in the post-resurrection stories of Jesus. They want to make sure we know that the risen Christ was no ghost, no ethereal spirit. He was flesh and blood. He ate. He still, as Thomas discovered, wore the wounds of crucifixion. That Christ’s flesh remained broken, even in his resurrection, serves as a powerful reminder that his intimate familiarity and solidarity with our human condition did not end with his death. Perhaps that’s what strikes me so about Caravaggio’s painting: it stuns the viewer with the awareness of how deeply Christ was, and is, joined with us. The wounds of the risen Christ are not a prison: they are a passage. – Jan Richardson, The Painted Prayerbook

Our scars tell part of the story of who we are, what has mattered to us, what has happened to us, the risks we’ve taken, the gifts we’ve given.  And as we are reminded in the story before us in John’s Gospel, this was surely also so with Jesus, too. Which is why Thomas insisted he needed to see, no more than that, feel the scars in his hands and put his own hand in Jesus’ side to be sure that it was him.  One would think he would have recognized him with from the features of his face or the sound of his voice, but no, for Thomas, Jesus had become something more since that long walk to the cross a week before.  Jesus’ very identity was now defined by the sacrifice he had made in our behalf.  A sacrifice made most visible in those wounds that by then could have only begun to heal. – Janet H. Hunt, Scars and Stories, Doubt and Faith

Isaiah 53:5 (NLT)
He was wounded and crushed for our sins.
He was beaten that we might have peace.
He was whipped, and we were healed!

Only in the context of grace can we face our sin; only in the place of healing do we dare to show our wounds; only with a single-minded attention to Christ can we give up our clinging fears and face our own true nature. – Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

Jesus invites each one of us, through Thomas, to touch not only his wounds, but those wounds in others and in ourselves, wounds that can make us hate others and ourselves and can be a sign of separation and division. These wounds will be transformed into a sign of forgiveness through the love of Jesus and will bring people together in love. These wounds reveal that we need each other. These wounds become the place of mutual compassion, of indwelling and of thanksgiving. We, too, will show our wounds when we are with him in the kingdom, revealing our brokenness and the healing power of Jesus. – Jean Vanier, Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John

Our wounds and scares become the icons of grace. – Paul Young

With a kindly countenance our good Lord looked in to his side, and he gazed with joy, and with his sweet regard he drew his creature’s understanding into his side by the same wound; and there he revealed a fair and delectable place, large enough for all mankind that will be saved and will rest in peace and in love. -Julian of Norwich

The Anima Christi is a medieval prayer to Jesus in the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. This translation is by Cardinal John Henry Newman.
Soul of Christ, be my sanctification
Body of Christ, be my salvation
Blood of Christ, fill all my veins
Water of Christ’s side, wash out my stains
Passion of Christ, my comfort be
O good Jesus, listen to me
In Thy wounds I fain would hide
Ne’er to be parted from Thy side
Guard me, should the foe assail me
Call me when my life shall fail me
Bid me come to Thee above
With Thy saints to sing Thy love
World without end. Amen.

———————
Click here, for Steve Garnaas-Holmes meaningful prayer on Thomas’ encounter with the Risen Christ entitled A Prayer to St. Thomas. Also consider his posts entitled, Thomas’ Prayer and The Mark of the Nails

For more quotes and scriptures on Christ’s broken body, click here or click here

For another devotion and original hymn text entitled Tell Me Dear Tree, click here

For another devotion and an original poem entitled The Taste of Death, click here

For another devotion and an original poem entitled You Understand my Pain, click here