Strong, Fierce Love – a St. Valentine’s Day reflection and prayer based on Song of Solomon 8.5-7

matches-heart-2

Who is that coming up from the wilderness,
leaning upon her beloved?

The strong, fierce love of God in Christ Jesus
leads us out of the dry, barren places
bears weight, we can lean on it

Under the apple tree, I awakened you.
There your mother was in labor with you;
there she who bore you was in labor.

The strong, fierce love of God in Christ Jesus
opens, quickens
is more intimate than our first breath

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;

The strong, fierce love of God in Christ Jesus
makes a lasting impression
a tattoo of everlasting grace

for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.

The strong, fierce love of God in Christ Jesus
comes for us all
an unrelenting longing for our good

Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.

The strong, fierce love of God in Christ Jesus
is unchanging
unquenchable
unstoppable

If one offered for love
all the wealth of one’s house,
it would be utterly scorned.

The strong, fierce love of God in Christ Jesus
is precious
priceless

Will you accept the gift of God’s love?

Rabbi Jesus
Promised Messiah
Son of the One, True, Living God
Fill me with your Spirit
Make me your love

It is your command
It is your way
It is your gift
It is You and your work

Yes, make me your witness
And yes, make me your will
But first and always, make me your love

Pause in silence to receive

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Strong, Fierce Love © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. (by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, revlisad.com) Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer Poem for Valentines Day: The Fullness of You (Ephesians 3)

heart lights

Happy Valentine’s Day dear ones! May the love, intimacy, and joy of Christ fill you today and every day. – Lisa <><

Prayer Poem: The Fullness of You
I desire the fullness of You
The height and the depth
The length and the breadth
Oh God I desire the fullness
Of Your love, Your love in Christ Jesus

Root me in Your love
Establish those roots to the core of Your heart
Root me in Your love
Grow them deep, grow them true
Tapping into the fullness of You

I desire the fullness of You
The height and the depth
The length and the breadth
Oh God I desire the fullness
Of Your love, Your love in Christ Jesus

Grant me Your power
Together with all who choose to believe
Grant us Your power
Light our minds, Shine right through
Till we grasp the vast fullness of You

I want to know Your love
A love that surpasses all knowledge
The full measure of Your love
You are Love, my Love, our Love, our first Love

We desire the fullness of You
The height and the depth
The length and the breadth
Oh God we desire the fullness
Of Your love, Your love in Christ Jesus

For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:14-19

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Prayer: The Fullness of You © 2010 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. (by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, revlisad.com) Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form. Lisa is especially interested in collaborating with someone to set this text to music.

Reflection: The Arms of Christ (Psalm 36)

I am grateful for the writer of Psalm 36, one of my favorite bands- Third Day, and Daniel Bonnell for his powerful work The Baptism of the Christ, for helping me home to Christ today.

Psalm 36:5-7 (NRSV)
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
Your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
Your judgments are like the great deep;
You save humans and animals alike, O Lord.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Your Love, oh Lord by Third Day
Your love, oh Lord, reaches to the heavens
Your faithfulness stretches to the sky
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains
Your justice flows like the ocean’s tide
I will lift my voice to worship You, my King
I will find my strength in the shadow of your wings

baptism of the christ by daniel bonnell

Baptism of the Christ by Daniel Bonnell

In Bonnell’s piece, Christ’s arms are extended in an explosion of color and welcome. One is raised in victory over sin and death. One is lowered in suffering, the price of our salvation. Christ’s body mirrors the shape of the Holy Spirit Dove, for he is the very image of God, the grace and truth of God made flesh. Christ’s body mirrors the shape of his crucifixion. His arms take the shape of wings because it is only within Christ’s embrace that we can find lasting shelter and safety.

What do you see in the painting? Leave a comment below.

Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light.
Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him, and rise with him.
-Gregory of Nazianzus

Psalm 33:11 (NRSV)
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.

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For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this resource in other settings, please leave a comment.

Make Me Your Love (John 13)

Sacred Heart 3John 13:33-35
Jesus said, “Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 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.”

Son of God
Savior
Sacrifice

Your love is Fierce and Forever
Abounding and Intimate
Generous, Goodness, and Grace

Fill me with your Spirit
Make me your love

It is your command
It is your way
It is your gift
It is You and your work

Yes, make me your witness
And yes, make me your will
But first and always, make me your love
Amen

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Make Me Your Love © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

There’s More to Life Woman of Samaria (John 4.3-26)

woman at well olive wood statue carving

Olive Wood carving of the Woman at the Well from Jerusalem. We brought this treasure back with us from our recent trip.

Sermon Series: There’s More to Life
Message 2 of 5: Woman of Samaria (Woman at the Well)

Scripture: John 4:3-26
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 3/31/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Rebekah Lyons testimony of God’s unconditional love. Rebekah is the mother of a child with Down syndrome.

Reading of John 4:3-26

The Woman at the Well
In the ancient world, your place as a woman was defined by your connection to a man:
Father, Brother, Husband, Son. We’re not just talking about social status- we’re talking access to what’s needed to survive.

  • Shelter from the extreme heat and cold of the desert
  • Food in your belly and clothes on your back
  • Loving relationships to weather you through the cruelties of life
  • Access to water on a regular basis

Where is her father? Most likely deceased.

Where is her brother, her sons, her children? Maybe she had none.

Where is the husband? Scripture tells us she’s had five husbands. Could it be in this harsh and cruel environment she’s lost five husbands to death? Maybe.

Could it be that because men in this time and culture controlled marriage and controlled divorce, could it be that she’s been thrown away five times? Told to go, you are not wanted.

The man she’s with now will not claim her legally. She has been shared and shamed, a survivor of cruelty and abuse.

She is an outcast in her community. We know this because in the ancient world went to the well based on their status. The most respected admired women would visit the well first, and she’s drawing her morning water at noon.

She is alone. Not in the company of the other women. Not enjoying their camaraderie and community.

This unnamed woman is barren of security. She’s been thrown away, driven away, shared and shamed, outcast, isolated.

She finds herself at Jacob’s well and today there’s a man there. He is Jewish. She is Samaritan. I imagine what is going through her mind and heart: How much more shame and disgrace am I going to get today? Jews and Samaritans don’t hang out. Am I going to hear from this man’s lips, “Half-breed! Heretic!”?

No. She hears from the lips of our Jesus respect. Good News.

They’re at a well, so Jesus uses the metaphor of water to share the Good News of Living Water, cleansing, refreshing, restoring, new birth. It is available to her.

He gives her a chance to reveal herself and she does. She’s honest and truthful. He recognizes it. The conversation could have gone any direction,  at that point and she dives in deep theologically.

Jesus sees her, not what people label her. He sees how she’s been abused, her great need, her wounds, and yet he sees her giftedness. He sees her keen mind.

They begin a discussion like rabbi and to rabbi. Where do we worship and how do we worship and is there a place for me in worshiping God?

This is the longest theological discussion in the four Gospels. This unnamed woman of Samaria.

Deep down, deep down, deep down the question she is asking and the question each and every one of asks is: Does God want me and does God love me?

That is the core question. My community threw me out. They’ve shamed me and abused me. The Jews say I’m not worshiping in the right place in the right way. The Messiah is coming …

The core question: Does God want me and does God love me. The answer is always Yes! Always! 

It is yes to the woman of Samaria and it is yes to us.

No matter what the world names us. No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. No matter what we’ve done to survive. The answer is always Yes!

The love of God is unconditional love. The love of God comes without judgment. “God sent his son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17)

This emptiness, this dryness, this wilderness, can only be quench by Jesus’s living water, Jesus’s saving love.

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

– Chorus of Reckless Love by Cory Asbury

This week the Towery boys found it and claimed it for themselves. Rebekah Lyons saw it in the unconditional love of her son with Down syndrome. A great gift that he’s sharing. The woman at the well finds it in Jesus and shares it as well. She becomes one of the first evangelists. She runs back to the people who’ve been awful to her and says, “I think the Messiah is at the well.” They come, Jesus stays with them for days and many are saved.

Closing Prayer from Ephesians 3
Repetition of the word love

17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Insert your name or someone else’s name as a prayer of blessing that you/they would know the unconditional love of God and place their trust in Jesus as their Leader and Forgiver (Lord and Savior).

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen ___________. Fill ___________’s soul with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in his/her heart. May love be the rich soil where ________’s life takes root. May it be the bedrock where ___________’s life is founded, so that together with all of Your people, he/she will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God may Your fullness flood through __________’s entire being. Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus the Anointed from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen.

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Woman of Samaria (Woman at the Well) Sermon © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Be sure to also check out Steve Garnaas Holmes reflection Woman at the Well on his blog Unfolding Light.