Holy Spirit, Stopping the Flow (Acts 8)

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Sermon Series: Spirit Filled
Message 2 of 5: Stopping the Flow
Scripture: Acts 8:9-24
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 6/16/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Romans 5:5
Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Last week we read the story of Pentecost. (Acts 2) Over and over again it talked about pouring and filling and pouring and filling. Romans 5:5 is another scripture which talks about the Holy Spirit being poured into our lives.

These scriptures draw us to a very important question: Why do you want a relationship with God? Has your why changed over the years?

Some would say, “It’s the right thing to do.” Others would say, “I was raised this way. I was carried into the church in the arms of my family. I’ve always had a relationship with God.”

When I first started pursuing a relationship with God, I was 15 years old and I didn’t want to burn in hell. I was scared to death and scared of death. I’d seen a TV show about the end of the world. There wasn’t an adult around to tell me this was opinion, not necessarily fact. The idea of “turn or burn” was reinforced at the neighborhood church I began attending.

Over time my why has changed. Instead of being a fearful slave of God, it changed into a relationship of grace, love, and hope. I’m eternally grateful for that.

The “why” of us wanting to have a relationship with God is really important because it colors everything.

  • How we see God and understand God
  • How we read scripture
  • How we look at serving, grace, hope, and eternal life

It’s important to check our motivations from time to time. Our motivation can be like a faucet. It can direct the flow of the Holy Spirit in our life. If our motivation is twisted in the wrong way, it can turn off the flow of the Holy Spirit.

Today, we’re reading a cautionary tale. The scriptures are full of examples to follow and examples to avoid. This is one to avoid.

Side Note: There is nothing wrong with magic. The problem is Simon’s heart, not that he’s a magician.

Read Acts 8:9-24the story of Simon the Sorcerer

Simon the Magician desired a relationship with God so God could be a means to an end. Jesus was a Divine Santa Claus to give him everything on his wish list. The Holy Spirit, a Cosmic Insider to hook him up with power, fame, and social status.

Jesus santa claus

Am I like Simon? Simon’s story is a cautionary tale – full of wrong motivations. When we come across a story like this it’s important for us to pause, hold up a mirror, and ask, “Am I like Simon?” What’s my motivation for desiring a relationship with God? Why do I want the Holy Spirit?

It matters. It matters a great deal.  It can be the difference between the Holy Spirit flowing in our lives and the turning off of the Spirit of God.

  • Wrong Motivation: Draw Attention to Yourself
  • Right Motivation: Draw Attention to God

Acts 8:9b-10, Simon likes showing-off. He is hungry for attention and fame.   
[Simon boasted] saying that he was someone great. 10 All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.”

Acts 8:12-13, Philip draws attention to God
12 But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed. After being baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place.

Phillip is filled with the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news and perform real signs and wonders, not magical illusions. Lives are being transformed and he keeps pointing them to Jesus. He does nothing for personal gain or status. He’s like Vanna on Wheel of Fortune, he points to the Word, constantly pointing people to Jesus.

Matthew 5:16
Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

We let our light shine so others say, “Look what God is doing! Yay God!”

Example: Trinity Director of Traditional Music, LaTerry Butler, always replying to a compliment with, “Thanks be to God… Glory to God… Blessed be the Name…”

  • Wrong Motivation: Be THE Leader (Not be a leader. Phillip, Peter, and John are all leaders.) Who is sitting on the throne of your heart?
  • Right Motivation: Follow Jesus

Acts 8:10, 11 both report the crowds listened eagerly to Simon. The people followed him and treated him like a god. Simon did not correct them. He liked it.

God is my co-pilot. No, God is the pilot.

  • Wrong Motivation: Build up Myself
  • Right Motivation: Build Up Others

Acts 8:18-20, Simon wants to buy God’s power for his own benefit
18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!”

Mercedes Benz by Janis Joplin, Bob Neuwirth, Michael Mcclure
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends. Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends. So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV? Dialing For Dollars is trying to find me. I wait for delivery each day until three. So oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV?

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town? I’m counting on you, Lord, please don’t let me down. Prove that you love me and buy the next round. Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?

James 4:3  
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

1 Corinthians 12:7  
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

What are we to do? Phillip, Peter, and John model it for us. They are always following Jesus and always pointing to Jesus. Jesus is the leader and forgiver of their lives, their Lord and Savior.

Peters speaks the truth in love to Simon. Your heart is wrong! You need to repent. You need to turn away from this and turn towards God.

Simon says, “Pray for me.” (Acts 8:24) Simon is open to change and that’s the good news for all of us.

God keeps reaching out to us again and again and again. To create in us a clean heart, to renew in us a right spirit, to restore to us the joy of our salvation, and place in us a willing spirit.

It is a journey. We can turn and learn and become the people we were meant to be.

There’s good news in the awakening. There’s good news in realizing I haven’t given that over to God yet. There’s time to do it.

Why do you want a relationship with God? Who’s sitting on the throne of your heart? How can you more and more point to Jesus?

Psalm 51:10-12
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

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Holy Spirit, Pour Out Your Power © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Holy Spirit, Pour Out Your Power (Acts 2)

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Sermon Series: Spirit Filled
Message 1 of 5: Pour Out Your Power
Scripture: Acts 2:1-33
Notes from a message offered Pentecost Sunday, 6/9/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

glass half empty full water

Is the glass half empty or half full?

  • The half-empty response may reveal a pessimist or realist
  • The half-full response may reveal an optimist
  • A response of “it’s both” reveals how can see and accept two opposing truths at the same time

When we only consider the glass and water, we limit our responses. Something more is present than the glass and the water. There’s air. The glass is always full because the air is always there.

When the Bible describes the nature and work of the Holy Spirit, it often uses the image of air. Ruah (Hebrew) and pneuma (Greek) are two of the Bible’s favorite words for Spirit, and they both mean wind and breath.

Holy Spirit’s work is often invisible but very real – like air, like wind, like breath.

Your glass is always full. In fact, your cup runneth over. (Psalm 23:5)

Romans 5:5
Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

The story of Pentecost is the story of the Spirit being given to us. All over the world, our Christian brothers and sisters are wearing red, singing of the Spirit, and reading this story.

Pentecost baptism holy spirit by Estella Canziani

Pentecost, a watercolor by Estella Louisa M Canziani (1887-1964)

Acts 2:1-33
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

  • The time is 50 days after Easter. The place is Jerusalem.

2 And suddenly from heaven, there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

  • We are filled with the Holy Spirit to speak, to testify.

5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound, the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

  • The disciples are empowered by the Holy Spirit with skills beyond their human training and experience.
  • This gift allows those gathered to hear the Gospel in their native language, their heart language.
  • Some witness the disciples’ speaking at Pentecost and they are filled with wonder and openness. Others are trying to explain it in human terms, proclaiming the disciples drunk.
  • The disciples are filled to overflowing. They’ve been praying for 9 days for the gift of the Holy Spirit. They are now filled to speak, filled with passion, filled with enthusiasm, filled with joy, filled with skills beyond their human training and experience.
  • The word enthusiasm comes from the Greek word entheos which means the God within.

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all fleshand your sons and your daughters shall prophesyand your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams 18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.

21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ 

  • The disciples, prophesy and testify and preach and speak so others may call on the name of the Lord and be saved. Later in this story, 3,000 persons do just that.
  • Now Peter speaks the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ     

22 “You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— 23 this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24 But God raised him up, having freed him from death because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.

  • It was impossible for death and sin and evil to hold Jesus because that power is not the power of Almighty God. The power of God is the greater power of salvation,  forgiveness and new life.
  • Peter points out another Old Testament prophesy fulfilled.

25 For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; 26, therefore, my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoicedmoreover, my flesh will live in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, ‘He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.’

32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. 33 Being, therefore, exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear.

Over and over again, pour out, fill up, pour out, fill up… speak. What do we speak? We speak the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection, that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Ferris Bueller showerRev. Magrey DeVega quote on breaking the 4th wall from his blog post, This is Where You Come In

We might observe the rest of the Bible from a comfortable distance, but not so in Acts.

We don’t live in Old Testament times when God’s voice was clearly audible in burning bushes.

We don’t live in gospel times, seeing Jesus face to face as the Word made flesh.

When Pentecost happened, God was revealed in spirit and power, in subtlety and strength, just the way we experience God today. And at that precise moment, God the Divine Screenwriter turned toward the camera, peered through the Fourth Wall that separated us from the ancient story and said to us, “This is your story now.”

We are the living embodiment of the ongoing story of Pentecost. It is now a story about us, living into the unfolding work of God’s power.

Examples of the Holy Spirit at work in our midst:

  • Ruth’s testimony at her baptism
  • Pru leading a memorial service
  • 52 persons commissioned or ordained at Annual conference as pastors and ministry leaders who will serve across the state of Florida
  • Over 300 Fresh Expressions of the church across our state. People experimenting to reach new people, in new places, in new ways with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

DSC_0586 (2)

The story of Pentecost breaks the 4th wall and the air comes through, the breath comes through, the wind comes through. That story is our story.

How is the Holy Spirit making the movement of God real and alive in your life? Breath to speak and testify, to serve and love, filled with the Holy Spirit.

Prayer
Come Holy Spirit, Pour Out Your Power
Holy Spirit your unseen work is very real
like air, like wind, like breath
Fill us. Fill us now.
Fill us so our cups runneth over
Fill us with strength and skills far beyond what is human
Fill us with courage
Fill us with boldness to witness and testify
to your victory over sin and death
Fill us with passion
Fill us with enthusiasm
Fill us with joy

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Holy Spirit, Pour Out Your Power © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Easter Message- Collective Trauma, Collective Hope (Matthew 28.1-10)

Sermon Series: There’s More to Life
Message 5 of 5: Collective Trauma, Collective Hope

Scripture: Matthew 28:1-10
Notes from a message offered Easter Sunday, 4/21/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Read Matthew 28:1-10

notre dame burning

Last Monday, the Paris Cathedral of Notre Dame burned. 

  • Where were you when you heard the news?
  • What did you think?
  • How did you feel?

As I watched, heartbroken and sick to my stomach I thought of the three historic African American churches which burned in Louisiana in the last few weeks. I prayed it wasn’t intentional, arson or terrorism.

I heard this term for the first time: Collective Trauma

  • trauma that happens to a large number of people
  • the size of a community or so large it can cross national boundaries
  • it can affect generations to come
  • The older you are, the more you’ve experienced collective trauma
    • war, genocide, slavery, terrorism, natural disasters, accidents

We mark days, time, and life by collective trauma- before and after the trauma

  • Pearl Harbor
  • Deaths of Famous people- President Kennedy, Dr. King, Princess Diana
  • Chernobyl
  • The Challenger Explosion
  • The 9/11 attacks

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of Columbine school shooting. Fifteen persons lost their lives that day.

Rick Townsend, whose daughter, Lauren, was 18 when she was gunned down, said
“It seems like every month there’s a new tragedy of some kind somewhere around.
It just makes you feel sometimes hopeless.”

Now we add the Burning of Notre Dame to this list.

  • UNESCO World Heritage Site, over 850 years old
  • Survived: crusades, reformation, revolution, 2 world wars
  • 13 million visitors a year. That means millions and millions of memories- that once in a lifetime vacation, an encounter with Gothic architecture or art, a profound moment of prayer. Maybe they were baptized there. Now millions share the pain over the burning of Notre Dame- collective trauma.

Why does this affect us so deeply?

  • We care about beautiful and sacred places and the people tied to those places
  • What would it be like if my church burned?
  • Something we presume will always be there is gone or forever changed
  • Increased sense of impermanence, mortality, vulnerability, helplessness

notre dame post fire

Yet in the midst of the darkness, pain, tears something new rises

  • In one of the most secular cities in the world, bystanders did not watch indifferently
    • They held each other, raised candles and sang hymns in the streets. Ann Voskamp said, “Songs rose like incensed prayers, mingling with plumes of smoke.”
  • People worked together, risked together, to make a human chain to pass sacred objects from flames to safety- what some believe to be a nail that held Christ to the cross, the crown of thorns which pierced his brow, and a piece of the cross itself
  • At that moment, the world was drawn together in a common goal in the midst of their common pain and it broke down all the dividing walls that so often separate us from each other.
  • Now there is a commitment Notre Dame will be rebuilt on those ancient foundations. Something new will rise.

This is the Good News of Easter
What starts in darkness, pain, and tears will rise, it ends with new life.
Earth to Earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust ends in Resurrection!

As much as there can be a sharing in communal trauma, this rising can be shared. All of us begin our lives in the darkness of our mother’s wombs. And there is pain and there are tears and there is new life and there is rising.

That first Easter morning, the women started for the tomb in darkness.
Mourn-full, tear-full
Mind-full of the trauma and pain
Expecting to encounter death
Instead, they found a rising. They found new life.

Matthew 28:5b-6
Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.

He is not here! He is risen!
What? How?

Why do you seek the living among the dead?
He told you… remember, he told you
He is not here! He is risen!

Blinding light begins to rise within them
Awe-full, Hope-full
Mind-full of words and wonder, this story and this truth
He is risen! Hallelujah! He is risen, indeed!

Where are you experiencing darkness pain tears?
They do not have the last word
There is new life coming, available
There is a rising

What needs to die, that you might know resurrection?
They need to die because they bring on the pain, darkness, and trauma.
Let them die so Christ may be alive in you.

Pastor Lisa’s Testimony

It is Easter! Christ has risen! He has risen, indeed!
It is not about collective trauma, it is about collective hope!
Collective grace
Collective blessing
Collective new life available to each of us

Communion Prayer

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Collective trauma, collective hope © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon based on How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (Psalm 37)

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Sermon Series: The Gospel of Dr. Seuss
Message 6 of 6: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Scripture: Psalm 37:1, 5
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 3/3/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Intro

  • 36 folks from several difference congregations leave tomorrow for the Holy Land
  • Won’t be with you as we continue to process the decisions of General Conference
  • Won’t be with you for the beginning of Lent. Ash Wednesday is this Wednesday.

Ashes seem to be exactly what we need right now. 
Traditional Prayer consecrating the ashes before imposition: Almighty God, you created humanity from the dust of the earth. Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality, our humility, and sorrow for our sin. We admit our eternal need of you and claim the greatness of your eternal grace and forgiveness, in Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Ashes of mourning  
Ashes were used in mourning sin and mourning loss.

So many feelings following General Conference. Some are relieved by the decisions at General Conference. Some are rejoicing. Some are mad. Some are wondering or in a place of confusion. Some are full of sorrow- grieving, disillusioned, that harm has been done, hurt, wondering if there is a place for them or their loved ones in the United Methodist Church.

Yes, there is a place for you here at Trinity and the UMC! Please read the information we’re providing. Please stay. Please come and speak to me when I return.

Ashes of humility  
What you hear when you receive ashes on your forehead: Remember you are dust and to dust, you shall return. Repent and believe the gospel.

Right now my Facebook feed is a mess. There’s a whole bunch of folks telling a whole bunch of other folks I’m right and you’re wrong. It is ugly. It is not of God. We need these ashes to remind us of our need for humility. It’s the only way we’ll move forward.

We’re all hummus (dirt). We’re all human. Hummus, human, humility. All those words are tied together. All of us are in need of Jesus’s grace and forgiveness and love and belonging and hope.

The ashes remind us of sorrow, humility, and mortality. Remember you are dust. This life is short and precious. The ashes also remind us there is life.

Ashes of life   
Remember you are dust also reminds us of God breathing life into dust at creation. It is a good gift of God.

So many of us think of Lent as a season of sorrow, wilderness, repentance, giving up stuff (make fun of all of it). Lent is ultimately a season of transformation, new life.

grinch 1Reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.    

The Grinch isn’t just sour or mean. The Grinch does harm

Why does the Grinch change?
The Grinch literally repents. The Grinch turns and heads down to the Who’s and down to a new life.

How do people change? Change does not come by fear, facts, or force. Change doesn’t come by legislation or law. Change comes by love.

  • The Grinch sees the Who’s love of one another
  • He sees and hears their gratitude and worship
  • Then he experiences their love, Even though he has done great harm, they welcome him into their community and to their table.

At the end of the story, the Grinch has

  • a new family
  • a new way of thinking and being
  • a new identity

This is the Good News of Jesus Christ. We see Jesus loving, healing, welcoming. The love of our Father overflowing in the flesh of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The love of the Father overflowing into the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Through his life, death and resurrection, that we too gain a new family, a new way of thinking and being, a new and transformed identity.

Grinch collageThe evil one loves to keep us distracted and divided. (noise, noise, noise, noise!)

Today again I am choosing the way of Jesus, the way of love. I invite you to do the same.

  • Recommit to loving those who agree with me and those disagree with me. Will you do the same?
  • Recommit to praying for those who choose persecution and harm over love. Will you do the same?

Prayer: Lord, make me an instrument of your truth and grace. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may love as radically as you do, especially when all I want to do is grieve, or run, or demonize, or lash out.

Psalm 37:1, 5
Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrongdoers. Commit your way to the Holy One; trust in God, and God will act.

Quote: Steve Garnaas Holmes
Beware the temptation to outdo an evil one, to beat the wicked at their own game. The saint does not resist the devil by becoming a more devout devil. Your compass is set to a different star. Don’t let them turn you. Set your heart on compassion, even when facing a wrongdoer: it will make whatever game they are playing a different game. Let the Crucified One play your [role]; it will change the meaning of the [game]. You needn’t pump up the power of God. Trust love to do what you cannot.

The beautiful thing about How the Grinch Stole Christmas, is about how the Who’s welcome him to their table. In the United Methodist Church, we have an open table- You do not need to Methodist, a member of this church, you do not need to be a certain age. Nothing can keep you from this table.

It is Christ our Lord who welcomes us to this table and welcomes all.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas Sermon © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon based on Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (2 Corinthians 5)

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Sermon Series: The Gospel of Dr. Seuss
Message 2 of 6: Green Eggs and Ham

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:14-20
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 1/27/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Dr. Seuss Trivia
1. What is the first Dr. Seuss book to be published? And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. It was rejected 27 times before it was finally published by Vanguard Press in 1937

Top 5 Best Selling Dr. Seuss Books

  • #5           Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (1990)
  • #4           Dr. Seuss’s ABC (1963)
  • #3           The Cat in the Hat (1957)
  • #2           One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (1960)
  • #1           Green Eggs and Ham (1960)

Bennett Cerf, Dr. Seuss’s editor, bet him that he couldn’t write a book using 50 different words or less. (The Cat in the Hat used 225 different words) He took the challenge and came up with Green Eggs and Ham, which uses exactly 50 different words.

The 50 words, by the way, are: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

green eggs and ham

Read of Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.

Sam-I-am is…

  • Determined
  • Offering something good, believes it down to his bones
  • In it for the long game
  • Inventive
  • Creative
  • Joyfully Persistent

Joyful Persistence
Have you ever been determined to offer someone something good?

  • Would you, could you buy this house?
  • Would you, could you be my spouse?
  • Would you, could you eat your greens?
  • Would you claim sobriety?
  • Would you could you come to Why?
  • Or drive for Fish, give that a try?
  • Or serve our preschool families?
  • Or come to this week’s POV?

Sam I AmWhat if Green Eggs and Ham represented the Good News? What if all followers of Jesus Christ were as joyfully persistent as Sam? (Dr. Seuss did not intend this interpretation)

  • Would you, could you come to Christ?
  • Repent, be baptized, claim new life?

Sam takes his calling seriously – He goes, goes, goes therefore to make disciples of those who like green eggs and ham. He is convinced they are good. Sam is joyfully persistent in staying in relationship, offering, inviting, entreating. He is an ambassador for green eggs and ham. We are ambassadors for Christ.

What drives Sam to try again and again – what would drive us?

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For the love of Christ urges us on because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

We understand resistance. Resistance to try new things, to understand a different perspective, to meet new people, to go to new places. Why does everything have to keep changing?

We know it takes time to open ourselves to something new. It takes many invitations before we say, “yes.” So why do we give up so quickly in offering something so needed and so good, a saving relationship with Jesus?

We know it takes many invitations, so let’s just expect it and do it. Let’s be joyfully persistent so others can know salvation in Christ Jesus.

Reading of 2 Corinthians 5:17-20  So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to usSo we are ambassadors for Christ since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

  • Go therefore and claim your call
  • Share Good News with one and all
  • Listen deeply, share your story,
  • Point to Christ for all the glory.
  • Try and try and try again
  • What’s there to lose, so much to win
  • Would you, could you come to Christ?
  • Repent, be baptized, claim new life?

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Green Eggs and Ham Sermon © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Your Healing Hands, a prayer based on Matthew 4

healing hand lightMatthew 4:12-17, 23-25
Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.’

From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

Jesus, Resurrected One
Light of New Life
Breaker of Chains
Bringer of Grace and Hope

You are moving, speaking, inviting
We hear your call to repentance, the turning will save us
We hear your Good News, the trusting will save us

We place every need into your healing hands
our loved ones, our enemies, ourselves
our work, our congregations, our denomination
our community, our nation, our world
our hopes, our security, our failures, our future

We place every need into your healing hands
We will find rest and wholeness there
Hallelujah, Glory to your Holy Name

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Your Healing Hands © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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The Songs of Christmas: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
December 16: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing by Charles Wesley
These are the notes from a message offered Sunday, 12/16/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

christian family tree 2While we hold so much in common, each portion of the Christian family tree celebrates a different aspect of the greatness of God. What does the Methodist branch bring to the party?

  • An emphasis on the Journey of Faith, not just the moment of decision
  • An emphasis on God’s grace at work in every part of the journey of faith
  • Singing the faith

John and Charles Wesley were brilliant at helping persons understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus. They had a massive publishing business which catered to those who could read. For the uneducated, working poor, they helped them learn the faith by singing it. (It helped those who could read as well!)

Lisa charles wesley attic

As an aspiring poet and pastor, here’s a picture of me geeking out over Charles Wesley’s attic space and quill.

The one who put the faith to music was Charles Wesley, John’s younger brother. We had the chance to tour his home in Bristol England. The bottom floor contains a sunny music room. Charles’ children were accomplished musicians. The attic space was Charles’ study where he wrote his sermons and hymn texts. It wasn’t uncommon for Charles to come running into the house asking for his quill and parchment so he wouldn’t lose an idea.

Charles Wesley wrote between 6,000 – 7000 hymn texts, many of which we still sing today.

  • O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
  • Christ the Lord is Risen Today
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, which was written less than a year after his conversion.

Conversion? Wait a minute.

  • The Wesley boys grew up in a parsonage. Their father was a pastor and their mother homeschooled them in both academics and faith.
  • They studied theology at Oxford and started a holy club to try to live what Jesus taught.
  • They were ordained pastors and served as missionaries in Georgia.

And yet, both men experienced a conversion. Their head knowledge born of studying who God is, the Word of God, and ways of God, turned into a heart and soul relationship.

In 131 Christians Everyone Should Know, Mark Galli reports

After returning to England, Charles taught English to Moravian Peter Böhler, who prompted Charles to look at the state of his soul more deeply. During May 1738, Charles began reading Martin Luther’s volume on Galatians while ill. He wrote in his diary, “I labored, waited, and prayed to feel ‘who loved me, and gave himself for me.'” He shortly found himself convinced, and journaled, “I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoice in hope of loving Christ.”  Two days later he began writing a hymn celebrating his conversion.

And Charles kept on writing.

Below you will find the verses of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing with some of the scripture references. Some thoughts…

  • The text begins with an invitation for all people, all nations to join the angels in joyous and enthusiastic praise of the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • Notice the recurrence of the theme “rise”
  • Instead of describing the rest of the Christmas story, Wesley then begins to praise Jesus Christ by naming who He is. This is what praise is at it’s simplest. God you are… Christ, you are…
  • At the end of verse 2, Wesley describes both the Incarnation and the dual nature of Christ in just a few words
  • In verse 3, the repetition of the word “born” builds momentum while proclaiming what Christ accomplished
    • Born that we no more may die
    • Born to raise us from the earth (Christ descends that we may rise, death and resurrection, buried with Christ and raised to new life in baptism)
    • Born to give us second birth
  • Verse 4 is not often included in modern hymnals. The theme shifts from praising Christ to a prayer of response. Come Jesus. Make your home in me. Deliver me from the influence of evil. Let everyone who sees me see the image of God in me. Save me by your love.

There’s an old saying. If you stand in the middle of the garage, that doesn’t make you a car. Examine your heart and soul. Say yes to a real relationship with Jesus Christ.

Verse 1: Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King; Peace on earth, and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled.” Luke 2:8-14 (13-14) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
Joyful, all ye nations, rise, Join the triumph of the skies; With angelic hosts proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem.” Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King” Psalm 67:4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.
Verse 2: Christ, by highest heaven adored. Matthew 3:17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
Christ, the everlasting Lord: Colossians 1:15-17 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.  He himself is before all things, and in him, all things hold together.
Late in time behold Him come. Offspring of a virgin’s womb. Isaiah 7:14 NKJ Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see. Hail the incarnate Deity! Pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel. Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King.” John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
Verse 3: Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Isaiah 9:6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Hail the Sun of righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings: Malachi 4:2 But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.

John 1:4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

Mild He lays His glory by, Philippians 2:5-7 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.
Born that man no more may die; Born to raise the sons of earth; Born to give them second birth. Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King.” John 3:3 NKJ Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “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?”

1 Corinthians 6:14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.

Verse 4: Come, Desire of nations, come! Fix in us Thy humble home: Haggai 2:7 NKJ I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts.
Rise, the woman’s conquering seed, Bruise in us the serpent’s head; Genesis 3:14-15 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Adam’s likeness now efface, Stamp Thine image in its place: Final Adam from above, Reinstate us in Thy love. Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King.” 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.  Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
Born of a woman that we might be born again

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Struck by the full force of evil yet rising victorious,
that we might rise with him.

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Crushing Satan, sin, and death,
that we might know peace and the fullness of life.

Guard us, Anointed One, from every warring way

Deliver us, Liberating King, from every enticing falsehood

Lead us, Lord, to your wisdom and truth
May this grace birth faithfulness and innocence within us
May our new life delight you and honor you
May it better your world and draw many to your saving love. Amen

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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 <

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