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

Call to Worship- We are not the first to come this way

walk path water sunThis call to worship was commissioned for the opening worship service of the 2016 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church. The call includes a person from each conference holding a container, each with a different type of soil from their home conference. At the end of the liturgy, they pour the soils into a single container as a symbol of God’s power to bring unity in diversity. 

VOICE ONE
As we gather on your good earth,
in the light of your love and hope
We honor your holy name and remember

ALL
We remember

ONE
We are not the first to come this way
We walk the path of native ancestors
Who respected your land, your creatures,
and their place in your world

ALL
We remember
Thank you for their lessons
Teach us to care for your creation, including each other

ONE
We are not the first to come this way
We walk the path of colonizers
Who disrespected your children, stole from your children,
bought and sold your children

ALL
We remember
Their legacy haunts us still
Free us from slavery to sin and death

ONE
We are not the first to come this way
We walk the path of immigrants and refugees
Who cross desert and mountain, river and sea
in search of safety and opportunity, freedom and home

ALL
We remember
We share their story, their hopes and dreams
Show us how to welcome and share

ONE
We are not the first to come this way
We walk the path of Coke and Asbury
Who loved your word, took up their cross,
and spread your Good News across this region

ALL
We remember
Their witness calls us to faith and action
Fill us with your holy fire

ONE
We remember we are made in your image
We remember we are dust and to dust we shall return

ALL
We remember
Common soil, common ground
Make us one in our humility
Make us one in our diversity
Make us one in you

Everyone sings Make us One by Carol Cymbala (CCLI #695737) as the sand is poured

**********
We are not the first to come this way by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia © 2016
You are welcome to use this in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa directly for publishing and posting consideration.

Sermon Recording- Skin in the Game (Philippians 2:1-11)

philippians 2

Message: Skin in the Game
Scripture: Philippians 2:1-11
Offered 5/22/16 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

Statisticks Video

Worship Resources for this Message 
I. Prayer- Most Blessed, Most Beautiful
Most blessed, most beautiful Christ,
in you we receive all things

The receiving takes growth, so you give us guiding-
saints and sages and scripture
Thank you for the guiding

The receiving takes others, so you give us the world-
nature and neighbors and nations
Thank you for the world

The receiving takes change, so you give us seasons-
life and death and new life
Thank you for the seasons

The receiving takes time, so you give us time-
present and future and forever
Thank you for the time

Most blessed, most beautiful
You give us yourself
And in you, O Christ
We belong to you and to God and to all
Thank you for the giving

II. Scripture reading with sung response
ALL SINGING
Humble Thyself in the sight of the Lord by Bob Hudson (CCLI #26564)
Instrumental continues during scripture reading

ONE READING- Philippians 2:1-5
If then there is any encouragement in Christ,
any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit,
any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete:
be of the same mind, having the same love,
being in full accord and of one mind.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
Let each of you look not to your own interests,
but to the interests of others.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…

ALL SINGING
Humble Thyself in the sight of the Lord by Bob Hudson (CCLI #26564)
Instrumental continues during scripture reading

ONE READING- Philippians 2:5-8
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.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

ALL SINGING
Humble Thyself in the sight of the Lord by Bob Hudson (CCLI #26564)
Instrumental continues during scripture reading

ONE READING- Philippians 2:9-11
He humbled himself and became obedient
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

ALL SINGING
Humble Thyself in the sight of the Lord by Bob Hudson (CCLI #26564)
Instrumental continues during scripture reading

*****************
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.

Ash Wednesday Worship Resources and Sermon Starters

ash wedensday with palmsModern Ash Wednesday Service
A simple, fresh combination of modern visuals, ancient scripture, the imposition of ashes, and the haunting song O So So.

Blended Ash Wednesday Service
Classic scriptures, hymns, and the imposition of ashes come alongside music by Chris Tomlin and Gungor.

Ash Wednesday: The Terrible, Marvelous Dust
Jan Richardson offers a beautiful and grace-filled perspective on God at work in us and our world. Post includes an original work of art and blessing.

Dust and Ashes
Steve Garnaas-Holmes offers reflection and prayer on the many meanings of the imposition of ashes.

Two Pockets: Healthy, Faithful Perspective
A reflection based on a parable by the well respected and beloved Polish Rabbi Simcha Bunim. “Every person should have two pockets. In one, there should be a note that says ‘for my sake was the world created.’ In the second, there should be a note that says, ‘I am dust and ashes.’”

Lenten Art: Reflecting Dust
A multimedia piece to inspire the creation of your own works of art for the season of Lent

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience
A set of four interactive prayer stations designed for use on Ash Wednesday. They could of course be used anytime when the themes for self-reflection and prayer include our mortality, our sorrow for our sin, and re-commitment to living in alignment with God’s holy will.
Prayer Station 1
Prayer Station 2
Prayer Station 3
Prayer Station 4

Script: If Jesus selected disciples the way we select our Presidents (Luke 9:46)

debate argument
An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. – Luke 9:46

MODERATOR: Good evening, and welcome to tonight’s debate. I’m coming to you from the Grand Amphitheater in beautiful downtown Capernaum. Tonight’s event is sponsored by the Commission on Messianic Debates, and the rules for the evening have been agreed upon by representatives from each of the candidate’s campaigns. Without further introduction, let’s welcome tonight’s candidates.

[APPLAUSE]

Our first question goes to James, son of Zebedee. James, in a few short days, Jesus of Nazareth will be traveling down to Jerusalem. There is widespread speculation about why he is going there. What makes you qualified to join him?

JAMES: Thank you for that question. First, let me say what an honor it is to be here tonight, and to have this chance to set the record straight with the Israelite people. I think what the Kingdom needs is an outsider, not a career disciple, but someone who has the perspective of outside the beltway. If Jesus selects me to be at his right hand, I will be the greatest disciple ever.

MODERATOR: John, same question.

JOHN: Okay, look. We all know why Jesus is going to Jerusalem. And when he goes in to overthrow the Roman empire and establish a new political regime, ask yourself: “Who do you want to be representing you when the Kingdom comes?” Look, I’ve been there. I’m one of you. I’m just a lowly fisherman who can identify with the real needs of ordinary people like you. And if Jesus picks me to be the greatest, I promise I won’t let you down.

[“THUNDEROUS” APPLAUSE]

MODERATOR: Next, we have Andrew. You’ve been critical of James and John. What makes you think you are the greatest?

ANDREW: What James and John forget to tell you is that they’re not outsiders at all. If anything, they have been part of the inner circle since the beginning. Who got to spend time on the mountain with Jesus during the transfiguration? They did. Who were the first to be called by Jesus? They were. And what happened after Jesus called them? They left their father in the boat. Poor Zebedee, abandoned by his own flesh and blood. If I’m chosen to be the greatest, I can promise you, I won’t leave anybody behind.

[APPLAUSE]

MODERATOR: Our next question goes to Matthew. There’s been a lot said about your former career as a tax collector. Some say that it is a mistake for Jesus to hang out with people like you. So what makes you think you’re the greatest?

MATTHEW: That’s easy. I’ve worked in the tax system, I know how corrupt it is, and what it’s done to people. And I’m the only one on this stage tonight who has the skills and expertise to reform our tax code. I believe our nation’s tax structure is far too complex, with too many loopholes. I believe in a simpler, fairer flat tax. And I’m the only one who can make that happen.

MODERATOR: Next we have Judas Iscariot. Mr. Iscariot, you are the surprise front-runner so far. Polls show that people respect the fact that you speak your mind, and others say that your background in handling the finances of the group make you a formidable candidate. But others say that you aren’t trustworthy, and question your loyalty to the party. What is your response?

JUDAS: Well, the first thing I’d say is that I’m rich. Okay? I’ve made lots and lots of shekels. I’m a successful businessman. I don’t apologize for that. I’m rich, okay? And I know how to make deals. The deals that my opponents have made are garbage. I know how to negotiate and make good deals with people. I make deals with the Pharisees all the time. And I know how to solve the problem with the Romans. A wall. A big, beautiful wall. And how will I build that wall? Management.

[“HUGE” APPLAUSE]

MODERATOR: Finally, let’s bring in Simon Peter, our next candidate and current front-runner. Mr. Peter, you are making waves for your zealous, no-nonsense ways. You’ve also been under great scrutiny for some of your impetuous decisions, like walking on water before sinking. If Jesus selects you to be the greatest, what can the Kingdom expect from you?

PETER: Look, I’m a zealot. Alright? I don’t make any apologies for that. That means that I’m not the puppet of any special interests, but I am my own person! I believe that this nation is the greatest nation in the world, and I’m prepared to make it even better. And other countries would be foolish to take us on, because God is clearly on our side.

[LOUD CHEERS, CROWING ROOSTERS]

MODERATOR: Okay, candidates. Our next question comes to us from one of our callers, who wishes to remain anonymous. Go ahead, caller.

CALLER: The one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.

[CRICKETS ….]

MODERATOR: Thank you, caller, but do you have a question?

CALLER: The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

[CANDIDATES SHRUG THEIR SHOULDERS]

CALLER: The first will be last, and the last will be first.

[CANDIDATES LOOK PUZZLED.]

MODERATOR: Well, that was awkward. Candidates, let’s go to our closing statements.

************
A huge thank you to The Rev. Magrey deVega, Senior Pastor of Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa, Florida for permission to share this powerful and timely script. It was originally published 9/17/15 as his midweek message and entitled Debating Who is Greatest.

Consider subscribing to receive Magrey’s midweek messages electronically. You’ll benefit from his faithful, thought provoking and action provoking reflections. If you don’t have a church home in Tampa, consider checking Hyde Park UMC out in person. This is a congregation making God’s love real.

Two Pockets: Healthy, Faithful Perspective

A well respected and beloved Polish Rabbi named Simcha Bunim used to say,
“Every person should have two pockets.
In one, there should be a note that says ‘for my sake was the world created.’
In the second, there should be a note that says, ‘I am dust and ashes.’”

Rabbi Bunim went on to say one must know how to use the notes, each one in its proper place and at the right time.

He knows us well

When misused, we hunker down in one pocket and make a home
We use a note to justify, judge, and deflect self examination

For my sake the world was created- I’m all that and a bag of chips
I am dust and ashes- Eeyore is my best buddy

But, when we open to the wisdom of the notes, we accept we are not one or the other. We realize we are both notes. Both pockets. We see the wisdom of the notes in the wisdom of God’s Word which goes back and forth, naming us and reminding us who we are- beloved and dust. We are both and we need both.

I am dust and ashesWhen we are too proud, too entitled, too full of ourselves, too self-sufficient, we reach in a pocket and remember anokhi afar va’efer, I am dust and ashes
I am small
I am worthless
I am mortal
I am unclean
I miss the mark, I stray from the path- that’s what the word sin literally means in Greek
I am like everyone else who has ever lived and who will live
I need a savior

Psalm 90:3 NRS
You turn us back to dust, and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”

Ecclesiastes 3:20b NIV
All come from dust, and to dust all return.

Luke 9:41 NRSV
“O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?”

In Luke 3, John the Baptist is right to remind us we are a “brood of vipers” and of our need of repentance, to turn back to God’s path, not just with our words but our actions.

for my sake was the world createdThen, when we are discouraged, overwhelmed and losing faith (when we feel like dirt) we reach in the other pocket and remember bishvili nivra ha’olam, for my sake was the world created.
I am a unique and beloved child of the King of kings
Christ loved me enough to die for me and raise me to new life
I am fearfully and wonderfully made
I am called
I am gifted
I am empowered by the Holy Spirit to do great things for God
God is using me in the salvation and transformation of the world

Psalm 8:4-8 NRSV
What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Psalm 139:14 NRSV
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.

We stand with Jesus in our baptism, water washed, anointed with the fiery dove of the Holy Spirit, named and claimed by God as beloved children.

Jesus stepped into the water not out of his need but of ours
To remind us of our great need- I am dust and ashes
To remind us who we are in Him- For my sake the world was created

Prayer for Perspective
Eternal and Beautiful God,
The One who births us and names us
Grant us perspective
A holy centering
of truth, humility and our belovedness

Not too high that we fall away from you
our need of you
our need of others

Not too low that we fail to trust
to reach out for you
to reach out with you

In you, with you, for you we are
humble and powerful
unique and alike
common and regal
priceless and dust

Grant us perspective, Merciful One
A holy centering
Let no voice be too loud
Or too soft
So we may persevere in faith
in hope
in following
in becoming
Amen

*********************
I am indebted to Rabbi Jack Moline for a blog post which provided much of the information and inspiration for this reflection.

Two Pocket Devotion and Prayer for Perspective © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are very welcome to use this in a worship or group setting with proper attribution.

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

Ash Wednesday Worship Resources and Sermon Starters

ash wedensday with palmsModern Ash Wednesday Service
A simple, fresh combination of modern visuals, ancient scripture, the imposition of ashes, and the haunting song O So So.

Blended Ash Wednesday Service
Classic scriptures, hymns, and the imposition of ashes come alongside music by Chris Tomlin and Gungor.

Ash Wednesday: The Terrible, Marvelous Dust
Jan Richardson offers a beautiful and grace-filled perspective on God at work in us and our world. Post includes an original work of art and blessing.

Dust and Ashes
Steve Garnaas-Holmes offers reflection and prayer on the many meanings of the imposition of ashes.

Two Pockets: Healthy, Faithful Perspective
A reflection based on a parable by the well respected and beloved Polish Rabbi Simcha Bunim. “Every person should have two pockets. In one, there should be a note that says ‘for my sake was the world created.’ In the second, there should be a note that says, ‘I am dust and ashes.’”

Lenten Art: Reflecting Dust
A multimedia piece to inspire the creation of your own works of art for the season of Lent

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience
A set of four interactive prayer stations designed for use on Ash Wednesday. They could of course be used anytime when the themes for self-reflection and prayer include our mortality, our sorrow for our sin, and re-commitment to living in alignment with God’s holy will.
Prayer Station 1
Prayer Station 2
Prayer Station 3
Prayer Station 4