Sermon Recording: Covered or Covered Up, Marriage Equality and a Call to Stay United (Psalm 32)

You can survive on your ownMessage: Covered or Cover-Up
Scripture: Psalm 32
Offered 6/28/15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL following a historic week in the life of our nation: the racially motivated murders in Charleston, the removal of the Confederate flag from many public places, and the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality.

In the midst of great change and as followers of Christ, let us continue the discussions opened by these events. The church must be the safe place for honesty, questioning, seeking, listening, and caring.

Let us not hold our tongues. Let us not hold our breath. Let us hold hands in a spirit of unity based on our shared need of Jesus. We can sit in the same pew with different beliefs on social issues. Good and Godly people can disagree about how to interpret the scriptures. That doesn’t make one the villain and one the victim. – Lisa <><

Click Here to go to Humans of New York, the collection of photos and quotes mentioned in the message.

You can survive on your own
You can grow strong on your own
You can prevail on your own
But you cannot become human on your own
~ Frederick Buechner, The Sacred Journey

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.

© 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Good and Evil

If you know the name of this work or its creator, please let me know so I may give proper credit.

If you know the name of this work or its creator, please let me know so I may give proper credit.

Matthew 12:35 NRSV
The good person brings good things out of a good treasure,
and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure

3 John 1:11 NRSV
Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good.
Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.

Recognizing “the world, the flesh, and the devil” as the classic three sources of evil (and also the source of the “spiral of violence”) —

  1. the world’s agreed-upon systems of self-congratulation and self-protection;
  2. our individual sin, which is then inevitable;
  3. the demonic legitimization of oppressive and destructive power by governments and institutions—

can be a primary tool to help you discern what is truly good and what is often evil. Without discernment, many of us end up calling good evil and evil good, just as Isaiah predicted (5:20) and the murder of Jesus revealed. – Richard Rohr

Romans 7:21 NRS
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 NRSV
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

The shadow self is not of itself evil; it just allows you to do evil without calling it evil. That is why Jesus criticizes hypocrisy more than anything else (eleven times in Matthew’s Gospel). Something that is shocking to many religious people is that Jesus is never upset with sinners; he’s only upset with people who think they are not sinners!
Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality

It would be easy for us to think that all of those involved in dehumanizing Jesus were horrible people. If it were only the Roman soldiers, we might say, “Well, the Roman soldiers did terrible things like that.” Or if it were just the thieves on either side of Jesus, we could say, “After all, they were criminals. That’s what you would expect.” But the people who led the charge in dehumanizing and humiliating Jesus were considered the most pious people on the face of the planet in that day. – Adam Hamilton, Final Words

We don’t praise God for evil, we praise God in the midst of evil. Those are critically different responses. And we must avoid the former lest, in our hurry to comfort, we minimize evil and suggest that God is somehow culpable in the very sin he works so actively against.
– Marc Cortez, Three Mistakes We Make When Talking About the Sovereignty of God

In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing.
– Deirdre Sullivan, Always Go to the Funeral

Extended quote by Steve Harper from A ‘Greater Good’
Our reactions to evil only make sense because somehow, somewhere, and by someone a “greater good” has been placed in us. In moments of tragedy and suffering, our souls express this “greater good” in a variety of ways…

…in anger that says, “This is wrong and should never have happened.”
…in grief that says, “Someone/something precious has been taken away.”
…in compassion that says, “I care that you are hurting.”
…in stewardship that says, “I will share with you what I have in hopes it will help.”
…in community that says, “We will not allow you to bear this alone.”
…in collective will that says, “We must find ways to insure this does not happen again.”
…in prayer that says, “Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy!”
…in hope that says, “We will come back from this.”
…in worship that says, “God is with us.”

None of this, and more, would ever emerge unless somehow, somewhere, and by someone “a greater good” was put into the deepest part of us, waiting there like a well from which we can draw when evil acts like it has the final word.

Psalm 34:14 NRSV
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

Romans 12:9 NRSV
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;

Romans 12:21 NRSV
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Victorious One,
Every day
Every moment
I face the primal struggle between good and evil
You have overcome
Reveal that truth in me and through me
Every day
Every moment
– Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

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, forever. Amen.

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

Mark Day 7: What Defiles?

Gospel of Mark Reading Plan
Day 7 Reading: Mark 7

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Jesus said, “In vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines. You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
– Mark 7:7-8 (NRSV)

The Pharisees and scribes confront Jesus about some of his disciples not keeping the traditions of washing hands in a specific way before eating. Jesus responds that the leaders are missing the point. They value and teach following rules rather than encouraging people to follow the deeper motivations and practices of truth faith. For example, the leaders promote giving to the temple over persons caring for their aging parents. Jesus finishes the debate by stating “there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” (v. 15)

Look within, Jesus says, to the heart.
The truth and glory is not in outward appearances,
not in the circumstances of your life,
the conditions of your body.
The failure of your flesh, or even of your mind,
does not defile you or make you less sanctified.
It is in your heart that evil or goodness lives.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Live that

Jesus was very clear: no law was to be used to exclude another person, and no law was to override compassion, forgiveness, and a welcoming inclusion into the community. – Megan McKenna, On Your Mark: Reading Mark in the Shadow of the Cross

As a leader in the church, whenever I see Jesus correcting the Pharisees I must pause and ask myself if I am falling into the same traps. Bishop Peter Storey states, “It is easier to do church than to be church.” It is easier to follow rules, maintain rituals, and create programs than to be Christ-like in our words, actions, and thoughts.

I’ve found it humbling to ask what “outcasts” do I sanctimoniously spurn as impure, unclean, dirty, contaminated, and, in my mind, far from God. The mentally ill, people who have married three or four times, wealthy executives, welfare recipients, people who hold conservative political opinions, or maybe people with AIDS? How have I distorted the self-sacrificing, egalitarian love of God into self-serving, exclusionary elitism? What boundaries do I wrongly build or might I bravely shatter? I pray to experience what (Marcus) Borg calls a “community shaped not by the ethos and politics of purity, but by the ethos and politics of compassion.”
Dan Clendenin, The Journey with Jesus: Notes to Myself

Jesus, you bring people together to be your Body, your Church. Save us from everything false, distracting and enslaving. Heal us from legalism, prejudice, and short sightedness. Help us build communities instead of institutions. Empower us to make disciples instead of members. Cleanse us within so that everything that pours forth from our lips, hearts and hands are full of your grace and salvation. In your name we ask and pray so you alone may be glorified. Amen.


Click here for a thought provoking post by Steve Garnaas Holmes entitled Clean and Unclean.

For more information on the Gospel of Mark Reading Plan, click here

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