Two Reflections on Betrayal, Denial, and Forgiveness

peter judas betray deny

Extended Quote from Destination: Known, Readings for Holy Week in the Upper Room Disciplines (2012) by Thomas R. Steagald
Sometimes our familiarity and haste we bypass verses of scripture. Because we already know the story of who “betrayed” Jesus, our attention in this passage [John 13:21-32] jumps quickly ahead to the conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter, the piece of bread, and Judas’s leaving the meal to meet with the religious officials.

But what of verse 22: “The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking?” …

Could it be that each of the disciples is humble enough, uncertain enough, to know that given the right set of circumstances or stressors, any one of them has it within him to do what Judas would in fact do?…

For only those who love Jesus can betray him. His enemies might hate him; others might disregard or ignore him; but only those who sit at the table can get up and leave, and only those close enough to kiss him can give the kiss of death. That Judas is the one who guided the soldiers to Gethsemane on fresh-washed feet, his breath smelling of sacrament, is a particular instance of what is possible for all disciples.

It is unfortunate that we so quickly rush to blame Judas, so quickly leave him and this verse of scripture behind; for indeed, this Holy Week calls us to examine ourselves, to hear Jesus’ prediction, uncertain of whom else he might be speaking.

Forgive me, Lord, when I turn away from you and your purposes. Amen.

Matthew 26:21-35
Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” … Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night.” Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples.

The Seat of Greatest Grace by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Jesus, my Friend,
my Beloved, my Person,
I love you, and I will falter.
I will deny you. I will betray you.
Three times ten thousand times
I will deny you.
The silver pieces lie in my pocket.
I have the nails.
And you, knowing, invite me to your table,
to the place of honor even,
this seat of greatest grace,
beside you,
to share your bread with me,
and lay down your body for me.
I can hardly look into the sun
of such forgiveness,
love’s empty tomb
that defeats me,
re-makes me.

I confess. I return.
Knowing, I follow,
drawn in your grace,
this burden that is light.

Be sure to also check out Denial, by Steve Garnaas Holmes

Prayer- Trust in Him

afraid-trust-psalm-56-3

Trust in Him and do not fear
The peace of Christ will guard your heart. Alleluia!

Trust in Him and do not worry
The promises of Christ will prove true. Alleluia!

Trust in Him and do not wander
The resurrection of Christ will open the way. Alleluia!

Trust in Him and do not give up
The power of Christ will raise a glorious harvest. Alleluia!

Trust in Him and do not despair
The grace of Christ will heal you and keep you, now and forever. Alleluia!

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This prayer would also work well as an affirmation of faith or call to worship.

Prayer – Trust in Him © 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 End Game, Reconciliation (Genesis 33; 2 Corinthians 5)

Jacob Sermon Series

Sermon Series – Jacob, Punk to Patriarch
Jacob’s journey to faith and accepting his place in God’s plan is full of schemes, betrayal, and family dysfunction. Yet, in the midst of the mess, God remains steadfast- offering relationship, provision, purpose, and new life. In Jacob’s story, we see our own mess and God’s saving grace for us as well.

Message: God’s End Game, Reconciliation 
Scriptures: Genesis 32, Genesis 33
Offered 10/02/16 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

2 Corinthians 5:15-19
[Jesus] died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 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 us.

From the Walk to Emmaus Worship Booklet for Pilgrims
Loving God, you love us, all of us,
and ask in return that we love you with all our hearts and souls and minds.
Loving God, you love us, all of us,
and ask in return that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Loving God, you love us, all of us,
and ask and return that we forgive and not hold grudges.
Loving God, you love us, all of us,
and ask in return that we take up our cross and follow you.
And by your grace we will love and obey.
Let it be so, now and forever. 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 Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording- Jacob’s Dream and God’s Great Grace (Genesis 28)

Jacob Sermon Series

Sermon Series – Jacob, Punk to Patriarch
Jacob’s journey to faith and accepting his place in God’s plan is full of schemes, betrayal, and family dysfunction. Yet, in the midst of the mess, God remains steadfast- offering relationship, provision, purpose, and new life. In Jacob’s story, we see our own mess and God’s saving grace for us as well.

Message: Jacob’s Dream and God’s Great Grace
Scriptures: Genesis 28:10-22
Offered 9/11/16 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

Your dreams are both powerful and rebellious. They are not bound by your fears, inertia, pain, or what your grandmother said about you. They don’t have to fit your cramped idea of who you think you are. They don’t have to be reasonable, nor do they have to please your parents, your boss, or the church. They are free to take you to interior places you can’t imagine and challenge the way you run your life—and the way your life runs you.
They can be outrageous, daring, playful, zany, sexy. They speak truth as they point to your particular needs for growth. They highlight the changes you are now strong enough to make. Your dreams are full of parts of you that you have denied, disguised in your own easily decipherable dreamcode. Best of all, your dreams are a venue in which God’s presence can be discerned. Your dreams are free to express your natural human spirituality even if you are turned off to organized religion.
– Tilda Norberg, The Chocolate-Covered Umbrella

The translation used in this message comes from The Five Books of Moses by Everett Fox

The prayer following the message is Turn and Return by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
We Fall away
Slip away
Turn away
Hide away
Run away
Push away
Go our way
Lose our way

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your Presence?
You Pursue

Woman sweeping
Spirit drawing
Hound dog tracking
Lover calling
Brood Hen gathering
Shepherd searching
Racer enduring
Father waiting… praying… hoping… looking… running… embracing
Our turning and returning

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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 Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording- Why Have You Forsaken Me?

jesus forsaken

Sermon Series: Final Words from the Cross
The Scriptures record Jesus speaking 7 phrases as he hung upon the cross- important and powerful final reminders of who he was and what it means to follow him.

Message: Why Have You Forsaken Me?
Scripture: Mark 15:33-36; Psalm 22
Offered 3/13/16 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Excruciating – from the Latin ex cruces, literally “from the cross”

2 Corinthians 5:21
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Job 30:26
But when I looked for good, evil came; and when I waited for light, darkness came.

Poem: You Understand My Pain by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Click Here for the full version of this poem

I am wounded… so were you
They call me names… you heard a few
I cry at night… you cried there, too
You understand my pain

I’m unwelcome… you know the glare
I am lonely… you can compare
My choices trap… you took their snare
You understand my pain

I feel beaten… your back was scored
I have no voice… you were ignored
They pierced my heart… they pierced you more
You understand my pain

You understand my pain
You know my deepest need
When life is all but tame You clear a way for me
Forever I will claim the One who never leaves
You understand my pain

Resources for this sermon
Final Words From the Cross by Adam Hamilton
Listening at Golgotha by Peter Storey

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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 Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Prodigal Son, Prodigal Father, Prodigal God

honore-daumier-the-prodigal-son

Study for The Prodigal Son by Honore Daumier

Day after day, week after week, I’m blessed by the wisdom and beauty of God passed along by Steve Garnaas Holmes on his blog Unfolding Light. Consider subscribing to the goodness.

Steve most often bases his posts on his walks through the beauty of Colorado or on the week’s Gospel reading from the Revised Common Lectionary. As such, this week Steve’s been writing on themes from Luke 15:11-32, most commonly known as the parable of the prodigal son.

These writings have been extraordinary, so I’ve gathered them here with Steve’s permission. May they challenge you and inspire you to more and more embody the wasteful, reckless, extravagant love of our God in Jesus. – Lisa <><

Click here for the Younger Son’s Prayer (2016)
Click here for the Older Son’s Prayer (2016)
Click here for the Prodigal Father’s Prayer (2016)

The word “prodigal” does not mean “wayward,” as many believe (based on our tendency to join the brothers in making judgments). It means wastefully or recklessly extravagant, extraordinarily generous, giving “prodigiously.” The term was meant to refer to the younger son’s lavish living—but it’s really the father who’s prodigal, isn’t it? The father extends generous grace and love to both sons when neither of them “deserve” it.
Steve Garnass-Holmes, Prodigal Father (2013)

Excerpt from Prodigal People by Steve Garnaas Holmes (2013)
The prodigal father extends love and blessing to both his sons. No demands, no qualifications, no judgments, no favoritism. He sets aside any judgment of either son, simply wanting to be in relationship with them. He loves them both, offers himself to them both, and invites both of them to share his joy.

If our Prodigal God is this generous, forgiving and inclusive, how can we be otherwise? If God declines to judge and punish, how can we? Jesus embodies God, giving himself for the sake of the poor, welcoming the outcast, taking his place among the condemned, offering nothing but love and life. And we seek to follow him, to be godlike in the same way.

A Prodigal People’s Prayer by Steve Garnaas Holmes (2016)
O Prodigal God, wastefully loving,
recklessly extravagant with grace,
excessively generous with forgiveness,
liberal with tender mercy and compassion,
lavish with hope and delight:
you shower us with love
that we are not prepared to receive.
You know the hurt beneath our fleeing,
the fear enclosed in our anger
and our clutching of what is deserved.
You embrace us freely and passionately,
free from our past, knowing and healing our pain,
in the present moment, celebrating.

You have recklessly given us your love:
may we spread it wantonly, give it all away,
spend it on the unlovely, waste it on the unworthy.
May we set aside our pride and practice delight.
May we claim again the siblings we have spurned,
and gladly celebrate those we have excluded.
May we offer hospitality to the unlovely,
forgive where it is unwarranted,
and love when it is unreasonable.

In your love may we love lavishly,
without exception or measurement.
Yes, it will break our hearts;
we shall be taken advantage of, and worse—
we shall be crucified, and only your love will remain.
And then for us, who have died and are alive again
you will give a great feast.
By your grace may this life be a reunion,
a celebration, a resurrection,
that in prodigal love we may know your joy,
your giving, dancing, feasting, running, embracing joy.

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Steve Garnaas Holmes retains the copyrights to his work referenced and posted here. Contact him directly for posting and publishing considerations.

Sermon Recording- God’s Grace, Growing and Preserving

grace sermon series logo

Message: God’s Grace, Growing and Preserving
Scripture: Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 10:9-10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-18; Romans 12:1-2
Offered 2/7/16, Bible Sunday, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Click Here for the power point presentation which includes steps for drawing The Bridge picture described in the sermon.

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

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

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

Ephesians 2:8-9 (Blue)
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.

Romans 10:9-10 (Green)
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 one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (Orange)
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

Romans 12:1-2 (Orange)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Time to Revive Product Collage

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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.