A prayer for those who have much, based on Matthew 19.23-30

i need you

Based on Matthew 19:23-30

Merciful Jesus, I recognize I have so much. In this place and time I am one of the first. Yes there’s always someone who has more, but free me from justifying with true perspective. I am one of the first – access to wealth, belongings, influence, work, medical care, food, water, education, credit, safety…

I hear your words… The first will be last, the last will be first…. It is so hard for those with much to enter the kingdom of heaven.

It is hard. It is hard for me to not miss you. So much comfort, apathy, distraction, self fulfillment. It is so easy to think I don’t need saving. It is so easy to care for only me and mine.

It is a good life now, a blessed life, but not eternal. I have so much but I need so much. I need you and your salvation. I need your truth, your way, your eternal life. I need others. Show me what to leave to have you and family 100-fold, for now and forever.

Speak Lord, I am listening…

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A Prayer for Those Who Have Much © 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.

What Must I Do? a prayer based on Matthew 19.16-22

Based on Matthew 19:16-22,
Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler.

Lord, what must I do?
What must I do to truly live,
to live forever?

There are better questions beloved
Better questions which bring better answers

How shall I love?jm_200_NT2.pd-P20.tiff
Honor the sacred gift of life
Honor committed relationships
Honor what belongs to others
Honor the truth

Who shall I love?
Honor family
Honor the other

See the richness of God’s blessing
daily bread and daily companions

See the preciousness of life
all life, every life

Treasure people as God treasures you
especially those who are unlike you
especially those far from comfort and influence
Love them more
Love them most
Love your neighbor as yourself

Expand your soul
Open your arms
Empty your purse
Let nothing keep you from the fullness of love

Lord hear our prayer
Lord make it so

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What Must I Do? © 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.

You are the Resurrection and the Life, an affirmation and prayer based on John 11

I am resurrection and life 1000x

John 11:25-26
Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

In the midst of
hunger, disease, and great need
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
conquest, prejudice, and oppression
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
water, bread, and wine
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
questions, promises, and prayers
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
loneliness, hot tears, and agonizing decisions
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
betrayal, saving your own skin, and abandonment
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
injustice, brutality, and the misuse of power
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
mocking, torture, and excruciating pain
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
grave clothes, spices, and stone
You are the Resurrection and the Life

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This affirmation/prayer was inspired by Jesus final hours. It is amazing to me how his situations speak to our modern experience in fresh and relevant ways.

Consider adapting this affirmation/prayer for a group setting by having all present speak “You are the Resurrection and the Life.”

You are the Resurrection and the Life © 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.

Sermon Recording: God’s Grace, Seeking and Meeting

grace sermon series logo

Message: God’s Grace, Seeking and Meeting (message 1 of 3)
Scriptures: Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Luke 15:4-10; Romans 5:8
Offered 1/24/16, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Click for information on Revive Florida and it’s sponsoring organization, Time to Revive.

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Romans 3:23
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Luke 15:4-10
Parable of the Lost Sheep
4 Jesus said, “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The Parable of the Lost Coin
8 “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Romans 5:8
God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

Christ Who Sees the Little and the Lost
from The Awkward Season: Prayers for Lent by Pamela C. Hawkins

O Christ who sees the little and the lost:
the child,
the lamb,
the lost coin.
Widen my eyes with your compassion;
clear my vision with your justice;
soften my gaze with your tears for all who need my prayers today.
Amen.

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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 the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

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.

Prayer for a Loved One Near Death

Ria Munk on her Deathbed by Gustav Klimt. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Ria Munk on her Deathbed by Gustav Klimt. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, I received an e-mail from a friend requesting prayer for herself, her family and her mom who was nearing death. I had to trust that the prayer could travel where I could not. My friend read the prayer to her mother, and God used it to bring peace. That was all God’s grace, not anything special about me or these words. God was already present and at work. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

It is a sacred honor to be with someone while they are dying. The veil between this life and the life to come is thin. It can be a stressful time, but also a holy time. In these times, and all the other times as well, cling to the presence and promises of God. God is near. God is good. God is strong to save. – Lisa <><

Psalm 23 NKJV
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Jesus,
You are the Good Shepherd
We are the sheep of your fold
So is name the loved one

You love her and know she is moving towards death
You love her and promise she is also headed to a new life with you beyond death

We trust you are walking with her and her loved ones right now
We trust you will see her all the way through the shadowy valley
and into everlasting light with you

Help us to hear your voice and cling to your promises
Dispel all fear and guard every heart
Come with peace and provision
Come with strength and comfort
Come with salvation and hope

Our cups run over in praise and thanks
For your goodness and saving love
Lead her, and later all of us, home to you
Amen.

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Prayer for a Loved One Near Death © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
You are welcome to use this work in a worship or other devotional setting with proper attribution. Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Advent Photo-A-Day: Day 4, Time

timeThe thought behind the photo:
How did it get so late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness
how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?
– Dr. Seuss

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein. – H. Jackson Brown

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 90:12 NRSV 
Teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.

Time is too slow for those who wait,
too swift for those who fear,
too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice,
but for those who love, time is eternity.
– Henry Van Dyke

The God who often takes eons to bring about a particular result also works moment by moment, constantly revealing Godself, taking flesh in the everyday unfolding of our lives. – Jan Richardson, Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 39:4-5 (NIV)
Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.

The December 4, 2013 devotion from http://umrethinkchurch.tumblr.com 
SCRIPTURE: Romans 13:11-14 The Message
But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!

We cannot escape time. Social media reminds us of what’s happening real time. Many operate on a 9-5 schedule. We can watch a clock tick and literally watch time pass us by.

Don’t get too caught up in your day-to-day obligations that you lose track of time, Paul writes. In other translations it says, you know what time it is. These images of night and day, sleeping and waking, doing and squandering are Paul’s way of saying, be ready, Christ is coming any day now.

Paul’s admonition to pay attention isn’t unlike what we might hear today: What are you going to do with your life? Stop wasting time. Wake up. Snap out of it.

Have you woken up to see what God is doing now in your life, and anticipate what God will do in the future? Be up and awake to what God is doing! 

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Thank you Rethink Church for a great way to make preparing for Christmas more meaningful. Join me and thousands more in setting aside time to reflect, focus, and literally picture the deep themes of Jesus’ birth.

Click here for more information on Advent Photo-A-Day from Rethink Church.

Click here for a master list of links to my submissions. Lisa <><