Great is the Lord, a shout of praise based on Isaiah 25:6-9

praisejesusBased on Isaiah 25:6-9

In a group setting, the words in regular print are spoken by one voice and the words in bold print are spoken by all.

Rejoice and be glad in the God of our salvation!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Great is the Lord who destroys the shroud cast over all people and nations
Remove it now, O Lord

Great is the Lord who swallows up death that we may feast forever
Save us, O Lord

Great is the Lord who wipes every tear from our faces
Console us, O Lord

Great is the Lord who removes our disgrace
Deliver us, O Lord

We wait for this day with hope
We work for this day on earth as it is in heaven
In your mercy, our healing and forgiveness is made complete

Hallelujah to the God of our salvation!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen!

*****
Great is the Lord © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon Recording- There’s No Place Like Home (Revelation 21 and 1 Peter 2)

finding-god-in-oz

Sermon Series – Finding God in Oz
The Wizard of Oz is a powerful allegory for so many of our foundational Christian beliefs. Walk with us as we Find God in Oz.

Message: There’s No Place Like Home, a Message on the Now and Not Yet of Heaven
Scriptures: Revelation 21:1-5, 22-26 and 1 Peter 2:9-12
Offered 10/30/16, All Saints Sunday, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

Excerpt of At the Ballet from the musical A Chorus Line
Up a steep and very narrow stairway to the voice like a metronome
Up a steep and very narrow stairway
It wasn’t paradise, it wasn’t paradise, it wasn’t paradise
but it was home

From Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk, Success, failure and the drive to keep creating
Gilbert is a successful author, best known for her memoir Eat, Pray, Love. It took 6 years of failure before Gilbert was finally published. Why did she continue to put herself through that pain? “I loved writing more than I hated failing at writing. Which is to say I loved writing more than I loved my own ego. Which is ultimately to say I loved writing more than myself.”

Writing is her home. She returns to it again and again in failure or success. “I will always be safe from the random hurricanes of outcome as long as I never forget where I rightfully live.”

Revelation 21 is one of many places in the scripture where we get a glimpse of heaven. Heaven is not a dream due to a bump on the head, it’s real, trustworthy and true. This gives us hope. We don’t get there by wishing on a star, or riding a tornado, or sprouting wings like a bluebird. Our Jesus gets us there – we are saved by grace through faith, not works or magic. If we confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord, believe in our hearts God raised him from the dead we will be saved. It’s about placing our trust in his life, death and resurrection. It’s available for all. This gives us hope, too. -Lisa Degrenia <><

2 Peter 3:13 NRSV
But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

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

Quotes: Kingdom of God

Logo from the 2011 Baptist Union of Great Britain's (BUGB) Assembly

Logo from the 2011 Baptist Union of Great Britain’s (BUGB) Assembly

Matthew 6:33 NRSV
Jesus said, “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

If we only had eyes to see and ears to hear and wits to understand, we would know that the Kingdom of God in the sense of holiness, goodness, beauty is as close as breathing and is crying out to be born both within ourselves and within the world; we would know that the Kingdom of God is what we all of us hunger for above all other things even when we don’t know its name or realize that it’s what we’re starving to death for. The Kingdom of God is where our best dreams come from and our truest prayers. We glimpse it at those moments when we find ourselves being better than we are and wiser than we know. We catch sight of it when at some moment of crisis a strength seems to come to us that is greater than our own strength. The Kingdom of God is where we belong. It is home, and whether we realize it or not, I think we are all of us homesick for it. – Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons

Daniel 6:26 NRSV
I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people should tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: For he is the living God, enduring forever. His kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion has no end.

The ultimate reality is the kingdom of God, and Christianity at its best is here to proclaim and lead people into that kingdom, calling them out of smaller rings, smaller kingdoms. Christianity at its worst, using the definition in this paragraph, can become a sin when it holds people within its ring and won’t let them enter the kingdom of God. Jesus diagnosed the religious leaders of his day as doing this very thing.
– Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy

Mark 1:14-15 NRSV
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

Sometimes I’m so focused on the ‘Not Yet’ of the Kingdom of God
that I miss the ‘Now’ of it, too. – Sarah Bessey

God is the God of the future, and that is good news to our longing for something better to come. But the truly radical good news resides in the fact that God is not content to rest up until kingdom come. “I am with you” declares, among other things, that matters dear to God’s heart like justice and love, compassion and righteousness, are God’s pressing desires for the current day. God’s presence affirms that we have not been left behind or abandoned to fend for ourselves. Divine presence provides notice of God’s transformation of this world for the good. Jesus’ life and ministry serves as that notice made incarnate for our sake and for the sake of this God-filled world. As individuals and communities who follow Jesus, God invites us to make those our priorities as we trust holy presence to dispel fear and lead us on the way ahead.
– John Indermark, Do Not Live Afraid

The Kingdom of God is greater than all report, better than all praise of it, more manifold than every conceivable glory. The Kingdom of God is so full of light, peace, charity, wisdom, glory, honesty, sweetness, loving-kindness and every unspeakable and unutterable good, that it can neither be described nor envisioned by the mind. The citizens of heaven are the just and the angels, whose king is Almighty God. In the Kingdom of God, nothing is desired that may not be found. In the Kingdom of God is nothing that does not delight and satisfy. In the eternal Kingdom there shall be life without death, truth without falsehood, and happiness without a shadow of unrest or change. -Saint Patrick

The church, the community of Christ, is a joyful people, but the source of their joy is not that they live easy lives in a happy world or that things are getting better every day, but that their trust is in God’s coming kingdom. … If God’s promise of the kingdom of heaven is an empty promise, then a life of seeking justice and showing mercy is a fool’s illusion. Only the promised kingdom validates a life of hopeful service. But the promise of the kingdom is sure; therefore, joyful, blessed, happy are those who put their lives on the line, trusting that promise. – Tom Long, Commentary on Matthew

When we pray “thy kingdom come,” it is an engagement of our will to act in ways that can bring the Kingdom to pass on the earth. Christianity is not a spectator sport. Our thoughts, words and deeds are the means through which the Kingdom comes.  A spirituality which expects God to do it all while we watch passively from the sidelines is a false spirituality. We only pray “thy kingdom come” correctly when we are in the game.- Steve Harper

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Extended quote and blessing from In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan Richardson
It is hard to keep our eyes open to the things of heaven while attending to the things of earth, and vice versa. How do we sort through these competing claims? There are days I long to escape the mundane, days I want to flee from dealing with dishes, with laundry, with phone calls, with taxes, with errands, with paperwork, with institutions, with broken systems, with all that tries my patience and wears me out. Yet at the same time I recognize that even at their most maddening, these recurring activities help ground me, keep me from tilting off the planet, root me in this world where God lives. Where God hides. Where God waits for me to look for the holy not beyond my daily life but in the very midst and sometimes mess of it.

BLESSING
May you give your devotion to the things of heaven.
May you give your attention to the things of earth.
May they find a place of meeting in you.

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Click here to check out a wonderful visual and musical meditation, Let Your Kingdom Come from Songs for a Revolution of Hope by Brian McLaren.

Click here for a wonderful, honest reflection on Jesus’ Matthew 13 Kingdom of God Parables by Rachel Held Evans entitled Slow.

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

Life and Death

Life and Death in Black and White by David Boyd, Jr

James 4:13-14 (NRSV)
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Why, in a world full of mayhem, disasters, and death in every city (spent much time in hospitals lately?) are people so shocked by death? I can think of a reason — because God has placed in our hearts the expectation that life will go on, despite all the contrary evidence. God has placed eternity in our hearts. – Ben Witherington, from his blog The Bible and Culture

Funerals are as much collective meditations as tearful goodbyes to one person. We use the departed life as a lens to assess our own. – Catherine Porter, Shelagh was Here

Preparing for death is one of the most empowering things you can do.
Thinking about death clarifies your life.
Candy Chang, Before I die, I want to…

Death helps us to see what is worth trusting and loving and what is a waste of time.
– J. Neville Ward

Jesus calls us to gratitude. He calls us to recognize that gladness and sadness are never separate, that joy and sorrow really belong together, and that mourning and dancing are part of the same movement. That is why Jesus calls us to be grateful for every moment that we have lived and to claim our unique journey as God’s way to mold our hearts to greater conformity with God’s own. The cross is the main symbol of our faith, and it invites us to find hope where we see pain and to reaffirm the resurrection where we see death. – Henri J. M. Nouwen, A Spirituality of Living

What do we say, that God has chosen this one and not that one? Or that God is not paying attention, that God is too busy spinning galaxies to notice our little lives and we’re on our own, good luck? No, the mystery is that the Holy One who holds the universe in strong and gentle hands also holds us, and cares for us, and accompanies us. The Beloved is with us. In death or life, joy or sorrow, the Compassionate One walks with us, breathes in us, suffers with us, and gives us the life we have. And that life, that amazing gift, is holy, precious and worthy of our wonder, no matter how long or pretty it is. Our range of vision is so often limited to our desires— how fully we manage to cling to what we want and avoid what we fear— that we can’t see our lives from the perspective of the heavens: the sacred Oneness that our lives rise out of, the holy miracle of life in each moment, the magnificent mystery of which each of us is a spark, a blossom, a note. The promise is not that your life will be long or easy, but that it will be holy. – Steve Garnaas-Holmes, That Thou Art Mindful

The grain of wheat when it is put into the ground dies; do we mean that it ceases to be? Not at all. What is death? It is the resolution of anything possessing life into its primary elements. With us it is the body parting from the soul; with a grain of wheat it is the dissolving of the elements which made up the corn. Our divine Lord when put into the earth did not see corruption, but his soul was parted from his body for a while, and thus he died; and unless he had literally and actually died he could not have given life to any of us. – Charles Hadden Spurgeon, Farm Sermons

I am always dying, with each breath that enters and leaves my body, with each second and the hundreds of thousands of cells that are dying off to make room for more, with each toss of the football to my vigorous and growing son. And may I keep dying so life may abound. Thanks be to God! – Todd Weir, Blooming Cactus

2 Corinthians 4:10-11 (NRSV)
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.

Within a few years (five, 10, 20, or 30) I will no longer be on this earth. The thought of this does not frighten me but fills me with a quiet peace. I am a small part of life, a human being in the midst of thousands of other human beings. It is good to be young, to grow old and to die. It is good to live with others and to die with others. God became flesh to share with us in this simple living and dying and thus made it good. I can feel today that it is good to be and especially to be one of many. What counts are not the special and unique accomplishments in life that make me different from others, but the basic experiences of sadness and joy, pain and healing, which make me part of humanity. The time is indeed growing short for me, but that knowledge sets me free to prevent mourning from depressing me and joy from exciting me. Mourning and joy can now both deepen my quiet desire for the day when I realize that the many kisses and embraces I received today were simple incarnation of the eternal embrace of the Lord himself.
– Henri Nouwen reflecting on his 50th birthday in Gracias! A Latin American Journal

Having passed another birthday last week, I am aware of the linear nature of life: it proceeds in one direction, and will never come this way again. But the solstice reminds us that it is also cyclical. Maybe we move in a spiral. Maybe time is neither strictly circular nor linear, but cumulative, like rings of a tree. We don’t leave the past behind; we add to it. Life is past and future mingled in the present: life and death, attaining and losing, suffering and deliverance, summer and winter, each present, each passing. Therefore even death is not final. There is always more life. Always. Even in the summer of your life, winter is working. Even as life is growing in you, so is death. Be mindful of both life and death. Honor them both, for they are both blessed.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Solstice

Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you,
Everything is fleeting, God alone is unchanging.
Patience will obtain everything.
The one who possesses God, wants for nothing.
God alone suffices.
– Teresa of Avila

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Click here for a tremendous message on the culture of death and the gospel of life by Bishop Ken Carter entitled Ashes: An Outward and Visible Sign. 

For further reflection, consider T.S. Eliot’s poem East Coker from The Four Quartets

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

God, Our Help and Home

John 14:2 by Mark Lawrence

In John 14, Jesus promises to go and prepare a place for us, a place for many to dwell with God in peace. His promise is echoed throughout the scriptures.

The following liturgy draws together several of those scriptures, weaving them between verses of the classic hymn O God, Our Help in Ages Past (United Methodist Hymnal #117, verse 1, 2, 3, 6).

I pray this offering will encourage you to draw close to God. May you dwell in the house of our Lord, now and forever. – Lisa <><

To live in the world without belonging to the world summarizes the essence of the spiritual life. The spiritual life keeps us aware that our true house is not the house of fear, in which the powers of hatred and violence rule, but the house of love, where God resides. – Henri Nouwen, Behold the Beauty of the Lord

Canticle: God, Our Help and Home
ONE SPEAKING: John 14:1-3 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”

ALL SPEAKING: Psalm 84:1-2 (NIV)
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

ALL, SOME OR ONE SINGING
O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.

Under the shadow of thy throne,
still may we dwell secure;
sufficient is thine arm alone,
and our defense is sure.

ONE SPEAKING: Matthew 7:24-25 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.”

ALL SPEAKING: Psalm 27:4-5 (NIV)
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

ALL, SOME OR ONE SINGING
Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received her frame,
from everlasting, thou art God,
to endless years the same.

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come;
be thou our guide while life shall last,
and our eternal home.

Compilation © 2011 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.

The scripture translations and artwork in this post are copyrighted. Please refer to the Copyright Information Page for more information.

The Glory of God's Reign

Immortal Invisible by Diana Wolverton

This Sunday, Christians around the world will hear again the story of Christ’s Transfiguration before Peter, James, and John. I am fascinated by the idea of time shattering long enough for them to see Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, bathed in miraculous light, having a conversation. Like Isaiah before them, the experience was overwhelming. They trembled at a glimpse of God’s Glory. This theme of “trembling before God’s Glory” is seen in other Scriptures traditionally read on Transfiguration Sunday, especially Psalm 99. Spending time with this Psalm inspired the following worship resources. 

This worship resource would also be suitable for the last Sunday of the Christian year, Christ the King Sunday, also known as The Reign of Christ.

For a traditional worship setting, Psalm 99:1-5, 9 (NRSV) is combined with the classic hymn Immortal Invisible God Only Wise (United Methodist Hymnal #103). For a contemporary worship setting, the scripture is woven into Chris Tomlin’s powerful song of adoration, How Great Is Our God (CCLI #4348399). I pray your worship, now and always, is filled with the transforming presence of God’s Glory. – Lisa <><

The Glory of God’s Reign
Traditional Setting
ONE SPEAKING
The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he!

ALL SINGING
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
thy justice like mountains high soaring above
thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

ONE SPEAKING
Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity;
you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
Extol the Lord our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he!
Extol the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy.

ALL SINGING
To all, life thou givest to both great and small;
in all life Thou livest the true life of all;
we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree
and wither and perish but naught changeth thee.
Thou reignest in glory; thou dwellest in light;
thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
all laud we would render: O help us to see
’tis only the splendor of light hideth thee.

Compilation © 2011 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.
For more information on the scripture translation, music, and art used in these worship resources, please refer to the copyright information page.

The Glory of God’s Reign
Contemporary Setting

ONE SPEAKING
The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he!

ALL SINGING
How Great Is Our God (CCLI #4348399)
Verse 1, Chorus, Verse 2, Chorus

ONE SPEAKING
Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity;
you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
Extol the Lord our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he!
Extol the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy.

ALL SINGING
How Great Is Our God (CCLI #4348399)
Bridge, Chorus

Compilation © 2011 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.
For more information on the scripture translation, music, and art used in these worship resources, please refer to the copyright information page.

Canticle of Promise

The following worship resource is made up of Natalie Sleeth’s Hymn of Promise (UMH #707), a scripture reading from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NRSV), and a portion of the hymn text God Who Brings the Cleansing Rain by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia used as a prayer. Please note, verses two and three of Hymn of Promise have been reversed in this setting.

For more information on the art featured in today’s post, click below
Light of the World Brochure

Light of the World by David Hetland

CANTICLE OF PROMISE
ALL SINGING:
Hymn of Promise, verse 1

ONE SPEAKING:
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NRSV)
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

ALL SINGING:
Hymn of Promise, verse 3

ONE OR ALL SPEAKING:
God who rides the winds of change, anchor us against its wrath
set our face toward holy ends; fix our walk upon your path
God who steps into our time take away this needless fear
Turn our lives to songs of praise; play us for your world to hear

ALL SINGING:
Hymn of Promise, verse 2

Compilation © 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.