Growing in Resilience: Rise and Run, based on Isaiah 52 and Hebrews 12

running feetGrowing in Resilience
Day 13, Read Isaiah 52
Reflection: Rise and Run, based on Isaiah 52:1-2, 7, 11-12 and Hebrews 12:1-3

I was struck by the similarities between Isaiah 52 and Hebrews 12:1-3. Running, rising, moving forward, freedom from sin and captivity, putting off the old/sinful and putting on the new/good, persevering, enduring, God going before and making the way, joy, sacrifice, strength, purpose, intentionality, salvation…

Isaiah 1-2, 7, 11-12
Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion! Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for the uncircumcised and the unclean shall enter you no more. Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter Zion! … How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”… Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of it, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of the Lord. For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

Hebrews 12:1-3 NRSV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.

You are surrounded
With great and good companions

With witnesses who ran the race before you
Now cheering you on
Inspiring you with their courageous faith

With witnesses running beside you
Churning up the dust of this well-traveled-path
Encouraging you with the steady beat of their beautiful feet

Rise and run
Lay aside every weight
Every shackle
Every excuse
Every inner critic shouting against inspiration

Lay aside the sin that clings so closely
Every self-serving motivation
Every self-medicating choice
Every weak thing you’ve trusted more than God

Lay them aside
Shake off the dust
Rise and run

Run beloved, run
Run with perseverance the race
Daring
Enduring
Awake
Free

Run
Looking not to the dust, but to Jesus
The Pioneer and Perfecter of your faith
Look not to the right or to the left
Look to Jesus
Focus
Follow

Jesus is The Way, opening the path
The Truth, clearing the clutter
The Light, blazing the trail

He runs
He endures
For the sake of the joy
Of setting the joy before you
and in you

Run
Run remembering
Joy is your strength
Good News is your song
Rise and endure
For this race comes with a cross
A course of blood and tears
Mocking and piercing

Take it up
Disregard its shame (that ancient enemy)
Let it fall by the wayside
Tired scraps on the breath of new life

Take it up and run
Depart! Go!
Sit down in the next life
Not this one

Rise and run
Following and looking and remembering him who endured
So that you may not grow weary
Or lose heart
For your strongest, most beautiful step is yet to come

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Rise and Run © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon Recording- Sharing the Gospel (Acts 10.34-48)

Sermon Series: Hometown Missionary
Message 4 of 5: Sharing the Gospel
Scriptures: Acts 10:34-48
This message was offered Sunday, 7/29/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Summary and reading of Acts 10, the story of Peter sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with Cornelius

This is a classic missionary story from the Bible

  • Peter is well trained. He’s been walking with Jesus for 3 years and is now a leader of the early church. He prays and receives visions from God.
  • Peter has a clear calling from God and has received an in-person invitation to travel to a foreign territory to share the Good News with people from another culture.
  • Peter arrives and is immediately welcomed and accepted. He immediately proclaims the good news in a beautiful, eloquent, and theologically perfect way.
  • The people immediately place their trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They are immediately filled with the Holy Spirit and baptized.
  • Peter and the believers who came with him stay a few days to further disciple the new believers.

This is like a 30-minute sitcom. Everything works out perfectly with a happy ending. It doesn’t usually work this way.

Often we are one small part of a long chain of spiritual encounters. Every part is important and valuable.

  • Maybe we plant seeds, building relationship, and trust.
  • Maybe we have the change to pray with someone or share a testimony.
  • Maybe we are the ones to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
  • Maybe we are the ones who encourage and disciple a person after they come to faith.

We need to know how to help at every point in the process, including how to share the Good News in graceful and simple ways.

Below you will find the drawings which accompany the explanation on the recording. This method of sharing the Good News is called The Bridge. 

If you want to add scriptures to your explanation, consider using these passages from the book of Romans. They’re often called The Roman Road.

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

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

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

Romans 10:9
If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

For a slightly different version of The Bridge by the Navigators entitled One Verse Evangelism, click here 

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean 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 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Prayer: For Yours Alone (Mark 16)

speak witness good news

Based on the short ending of the Gospel of Mark, The Voice Translation
Later, Jesus himself commissioned the disciples to take the sacred and eternal message of salvation far to the East and the West.

Jesus,
Your message is sacred
Holy, Set Apart, Treasured

Your message is eternal
Timeless, Lasting, a Firm Foundation

Your message is salvation
Deliverance, Wholeness, Grace

We bow before your commission to receive and bear your message into the world

Show us when to speak and give us the words
Never for our agenda, for yours alone

Show us what to do and give us the strength
Never for our achievement, for yours alone

Show others we are from you by your power at work through us
Never for our glory, for yours alone

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For Yours Alone © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

You are welcome to use this prayer in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please leave a comment to contact me directly for publishing and posting consideration.

Sermon Recordings- The Angels’ Song (Luke 2)

why-we-hope-why-we-sing

Message: The Angels’ Song
Scriptures: Luke 2:8-20
Offered 12/11/16, the first Sunday of Advent, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

It was a Roman custom that the birth of a Roman emperor was announced by great poets and orators with declarations of joy, peace, and prosperity. The announcement of the birth of the Savior of of the world, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, was announced by heaven itself. First a herald angel, “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” Then a multitude of the heavenly host, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

It is a Cross-shaped announcement. First out – great joy for all people, a Savior, the Messiah. Then up- the Lord. Then up- glory to God in the highest heaven. Then out- and on earth peace.

The angels don’t visit Mary and Joseph that night. They’ve already had their angel visits and are busy with the birth. They don’t visit the high priest, King Herod, Quirinius, or Emperor Augustus. The powerful already think they are favored.

The angels proclaim the birth of the Savior of the world to shepherds, a group who is definitely not thought of as favored. It’s one of the worst jobs of the ancient world. Shepherds are stereotyped as lazy and dishonest because they often live off land belonging to others and care for flocks belonging to others. They were known as smelly, poor, homeless, uneducated, powerless.

Folks laughed at the idea of a “good shepherd,” an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp. Yet David of Bethlehem was one long before he was king and long before he was promised his throne would never end and long before he was promised the Messiah would be his ancestor.

The babe in the manger will be one, too. Our Jesus, our Good Shepherd, will lay down his life for the sheep.

We’re the sheep. We’re the rag tag shepherds. The message is for them and for us.

“I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord….Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

This Good News is for us and all people.

This Good News is to bring us great joy, lasting joy, joy beyond circumstance.

This Good News is that we we have a Savior, so we can stop trying to save ourselves and stop thinking we can’t possibly be saved.

This Good News is that we have a leader and Lord who is trust-worthy and thus worthy to be followed.

This Good News is that God gives us peace in Christ Jesus.

Wait. What? Peace?
The time of Jesus’ birth was a time of occupation and oppression, not peace. Bethlehem was overflowing with Roman military carrying out a mandated migration and registration.

Our age is not a time of peace. School shootings, mass incarceration, cyber attacks, human trafficking, misuse of power, economic insecurity and uncertainty, terrorism, war. Our world is more and more angry, corrupt, and violent. This is the age of Aleppo.

We think of peace
1. as the absence of worry- good health, financially secure, all is well with those I love.
2. as the absence of conflict, injustice, and war

Jesus, the night of the last supper, the night before he gave himself up for us said,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. —John 14.27

Sounds like the Angels’ song. Do not be afraid. You’ve been given a Son, a Savior, The Lord God in the flesh. You’ve been given peace.

Peace isn’t about absence. It’s about presence. We are given the Son, the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord. God is with us. 

Peace in Hebrew is Shalom.  Shalom means fullness; having everything you need to be whole, to be yourself. The Angels’ song is that peace is not the absence of war. Peace is not health, wealth, all is well with those I love. Even if we somehow find it, it doesn’t last, it doesn’t save us, doesn’t make us whole.

Peace not the absence of struggle and suffering, but the presence of God who is Love. God’s presence in us brings fullness and wholeness, the literal meaning of salvation. God’s presence brings the fruit of the Holy Spirit which is love, joy, and peace – the three themes of the Angels’ song. The presence of Jesus is the present of peace.

Peace I Give You by Steve Garnaas Holmes. Imagine Jesus saying this to you…
I give you the quiet peace of this present moment: without hurry, fear or need to be elsewhere, but right here, right now, as you are, at rest.

I give you the strong peace of yourself: the peace of forgiveness and my delight in who you are, with no need to prove yourself or do better.

I give you the vibrant peace of oneness with all living things, the peace of deep belonging, and reconciliation with all people

I give you the life-giving peace of my own spirit, my love, trust and courage beating in your heart, my presence in your soul.

I give you the joyous peace of trust— trust in your life and its goodness, trust in the Beloved and your belovedness

I give you the renewing peace of healing, of blessing hidden even in struggle and pain, of trust that even in suffering all shall be well.

I give not as the world gives, from the outside, but from within, by your being created, and it cannot be taken away. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.

Prayer from Prepare the Way by Pamela C. Hawkins
I want to be at peace, O God,
protector of the frightened,
refuge for the wandering.

I want to speak for peace, O Christ,
hope whispered to the bruised,
welcome sung to the embattled.

I want to live in peace, O Spirit,
forgiveness in my heart,
kindness in my hands;
trusting, trustworthy;
loving, beloved.

I want to be at peace, O God
with you,
with me,
with others.
This is my Advent prayer. 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.

sermon © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Reader’s Theater: The Shepherds and the Angels (Luke 2:8-20)

The Christmas Story readers theaterReader’s Theater: The Shepherds and the Angels
Based on Luke 2:8-20 NRSV
Parts: Narrator, Angel, Choir/All, Shepherd

NARRATOR
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them,

ANGEL
Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.

NARRATOR
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

CHOIR OR ALL
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

NARRATOR
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,

SHEPHERD
Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.

NARRATOR
So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

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The Christmas passages from Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2 are “tidings of great joy for all people.” A great way to embody this truth is through multiple readers of multiple ages voicing the beloved story. I hope these simple scripts will help you to do just that. Merry Christmas and may the promises of this Holy Season strengthen you throughout the year! – Lisa <><

Click the link for a master pdf of all The Christmas Story scripts
Reader’s Theater The Christmas Story

Adapted from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Reader’s Theater: The Shepherds and the Angels (Luke 2:8-20)
© 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Prayer: Glorious One (Luke 2:8-14)

Sheep in Winter Sunlight by Steve Partridge via Wikimedia Commons

Sheep in Winter Sunlight by Steve Partridge via Wikimedia Commons

2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 16 Reading: Luke 2:8-14
Angels and Shepherds

the glory of the Lord shone around them
– Luke 2:9

Prayer Poem: Glorious One
Glorious One
Let your kingdom come
Pervading, designing
Creating, surprising
Glorious One

Tender One
Beckoning home the lost son
Embracing our sighing
Accepting, abiding
Tender one

Generous One
Arms open wide in welcome
Adopting, providing
Protecting, residing
Generous One

Peacemaking One
Saving the world without guns
Dying, arising
Healing, uniting
Peacemaking One

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hearts are reviving
Vision is widening
Praises are rising
Thanksgiving flying
Glorious, Glorious, Glorious One!

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This post is part of the 2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas. Click here for more information, including a list of all the readings.

Prayer Poem: Glorious One  © 2010 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.

I’m very interested in setting this text music. Contact me to collaborate.

For more information on the art and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.

Advent Photo-A-Day: Day 24, Joy

Mistletoes, photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Mistletoes, photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

The thought behind the photo:
Last year, six three-year-olds from our church preschool came bounding into my office. They were dressed for their Christmas party and so excited to give me a gift. “Open it! Open it!” I reached into the bag to find a white shirt with green imprints of their feet hanging from painted red ribbons. At the bottom of the shirt it read, “Mistletoes.” We laughed and hugged and took some pictures. Their gift was wonderful, but their presence more than their present filled me with joy.

Joy is about presence. The presence of those we love may come and go, but the presence of the One who loves us most never ends. (Hebrews 13:5)  Joy is associated with the word enthusiasm which comes from the Greek word en theos – God within. This is the very heart of the Christmas story- God with us and for us and in us. This is what makes the arrival of the Babe in Bethlehem tidings of great joy.

Joy is the serious business of Heaven. – C.S. Lewis

SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:8-11 NKJV
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

It is joy to all nations that Christ is born, the Prince of Peace, the King who rules in righteousness…Beloved, the greatest joy is to those who know Christ as a Saviour…The further you submit yourself to Christ the Lord, the more completely you know Him, the fuller will your happiness become. Surface joy is to those who live where the Saviour is preached; but the great deeps, the great fathomless deeps of solemn joy which glisten and sparkle with delight, are for such as know the Saviour, obey the Anointed One, and have communion with the Lord Himself…you will never know the fullness of the joy which Jesus brings to the soul, unless under the power of the Holy Spirit you take the Lord your Master to be your All in all, and make Him the fountain of your intensest delight. – Charles Spurgeon

The December 24, 2013 devotion from http://umrethinkchurch.tumblr.com 
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:2-7, CEB
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.
On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned.
You have made the nation great; you have increased its joy.
They rejoiced before you as with joy at the harvest, as those who divide plunder rejoice.
As on the day of Midian, you’ve shattered the yoke that burdened them,
the staff on their shoulders, and the rod of their oppressor.
Because every boot of the thundering warriors,
and every garment rolled in blood will be burned, fuel for the fire.
A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders.
He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be vast authority and endless peace for David’s throne and for his kingdom,
establishing and sustaining it with justice and righteousness now and forever.

Against the backdrop of darkness is the dawning of a new day. New light. New life. Bonds of oppression broken. Endless peace. At the core of Isaiah’s message is rejoicing. Joy.

The Messiah is born, inaugurating God’s coming kin-dom.

When we remember those rods of oppression that seem unbreakable, what is the good news that breaks through?

As we celebrate the dawning of light through the birth of the Christ child, where in our lives are we seeing the in-breaking of God’s kingdom, and who are we sharing this good news with?

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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 <><