There’s More to Life Man at the Pool (John 5.1-9)

Sermon Series: There’s More to Life
Message 3 of 5: Man at the Pool

Scripture: John 5:1-9
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 4/7/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Prayer from Ephesians 3
Insert someone’s name to offer a prayer of blessing for him/her.

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen ___________. Fill ___________’s soul with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in his/her heart. May love be the rich soil where ________’s life takes root. May it be the bedrock where ___________’s life is founded, so that together with all of Your people, he/she will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God may Your fullness flood through __________’s entire being. Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus the Anointed from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen.

Israel map temple bethesda

Israel Trip- The Church of Saint Anne

  • a Roman Catholic Church, located in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem
    • A 45-minute walk from this location to the temple mount

DSC_0899

  • Saint Anne’s marks the traditional childhood home of Mary the mother of Jesus. It is dedicated to her parents, Anna and Joachim.
  • Crusader era church, built around 1140
    • you notice the coolness, plain stone, elegant simplicity, timelessness
    • Church has extraordinary acoustics. The notes hang in the air for at least 5 seconds. It flows. It ripples. It feels like you are being washed in the sound. We sang O Come, O Come Emmanuel; Holy Holy Holy; and Amazing Grace.

st anne jerusalem interior

Next to the church is the ruin of the pool of Bethesda, also know as Bethzatha and Bethsaida.

  • Literally means “House of Mercy”
  • This is the location mentioned in John 5, Jesus healing a man who’d been waiting there for 38 years.
  • On our trip, we read this story along with James 5 and offered each other prayers for healing. A profound worship experience, praying for healing in a place of healing.

st anne jerusalem exterior with ruin

DSC_0906

Prayers for Healing

  • I long for healing. Of all the prayers I pray, I pray for healing the most.
  • Watching over persons in need. This list is long, constantly changing and flowing.
  • Times I am overwhelmed by the need. Needs within the congregation, community, nation, and world.
  • When Jesus walks into the area around the pools of Bethesda, it is overflowing with people in great need. They have come in hope of healing.
  • We come into the presence of God, trusting God in Jesus is our Savior forever.

Where we are in the story

  • In John 2 and 3, Jesus is in Jerusalem. He preaches on the teaching steps and turns over the tables of the money changers in the temple, getting the attention of the Jewish leadership (Pharisees, Sadducees, Sanhedrin). He speaks with Nicodemus at night.
  • He heads back home to Galilee through Samaria, where he has the conversation with the woman at the well.
  • He makes it to Galilee to the city of Capernaum, his home base, where he heals some people.
  • Then it’s time for another Jewish festival so he’s back in Jerusalem.

Read John 5:1-9

He’s been waiting for 38 years

  • Two generations, a lifetime in the ancient world
  • Did family bring him and leave him? Did he come himself?
  • He’s lost everything. He has nothing.  “Sir, I have no one…”
  • He has an unknown condition – it’s the Greek word for weakness (body, soul, mind, etc.). Don’t we all have weakness?
Healing at the pool of bethesda by Carl Bloch

Healing at the Pool of Bethesda by Carl Bloch

Jesus asks, “Do you want to be well?”

He answers, “As soon as the water bubbles then I will get up off my mat. As soon as I get some help into the water my problems will be fixed.”

The pool was thought to be magical, miraculous. The water would bubble and someone would be healed.

How many of us are stuck in as soon as … As soon as ______________ happens life will be better. I’ll be happy. My problems will go away. I’ll be satisfied. All will be well.

This pool is a symbol of the strong attraction of As Soon As. We can drown in it. We can sit a lifetime beside it.

  • Children often say, “As soon as I’m big enough”
  • Teens- “As soon as I graduate from high school”
  • As soon as I get a job… I make enough money
  • As soon as I get married or get divorced
  • As soon as I have children or the children are grown
  • Retire
  • Lose 10 pounds
  • Get sober
  • Get over my grief
  • As soon as he/she apologizes or gets their act together and does right by me

As soon as is an illusion, a false promise, even a false God. We think it that this circumstantial change will be the magic bullet, the quick fix that we are longing for. It causes us to live stagnant lives.

Jesus offers us living water, a spring of life gushing up and overflowing to eternal life.

Stagnant water is not alive. Nothing can live in it. It smells. It’s where things go to die.

We stay stuck. We push the pause button on life. We put life on hold. It is self-imprisonment.

The imprisonment is so great that when Jesus asks, “Do you want to be made well?” We can’t even think about saying say, “Yes.” We just start in with the as soon as…

Bethesda/Bethzatha/Bethsaida means House of Mercy, but it is actually a house of despair, a house of lies and falsehood

  • the pool was an Asclepieion
  • a place where healing was supposed to take place by the power of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing.
  • The medical symbol with the snakes is connected to Asclepius.
  • Asclepius was called “savior” by his followers just like some call as soon as “savior”

The scene in a new context:
It is the time of a Jewish festival, so Jesus who is very Jewish, goes to Jerusalem. On the Jewish Sabbath, this Jewish Rabbi (and Messiah) goes to a local landmark dedicated to the Greek god of healing. He walks up to the person with the least chance of getting better (38 years!) and proceeds to heal the man, right there in the middle of the building

Jesus is the Savior. The Healer. Jesus brings salvation.

Salvation does not mean healed it means whole. There’s a big difference. 

You can have brokenness is your body, your family, your job, your mind, your heart, and still be whole. Paul had a thorn in the flesh that he went to heaven with and he was whole.

Jesus was broken and tortured, a victim of oppression injustice and corruption and Jesus was whole. In fact, in heaven, Jesus still has his scars as a testimony to the power of God in the midst of his brokenness. He wasn’t Savior as soon as he was resurrected. He was Savior in the midst of it.

We aren’t whole just when we go home to heaven. We are whole now because of Jesus. Salvation means wholeness.

I’m not suggesting that the circumstances of our lives are irrelevant or aren’t real or aren’t important. They are. We may be limited in some ways, but we are not limited in every way. We are more than our circumstances. Salvation means wholeness- not perfection or even healing.

Jesus is the true Savior- Not a change of circumstance, not your ability, not who you know. 

Nick Vujicic

Nick Vujicic (VU-Yee-Chek) an Australian man who was born with no arms and no legs, who after a deep bout with depression, decided that he didn’t want his life to be defined by his weakness or limitation, but instead he wanted his life to be defined by his worth as a child of God gifted and called to bring light and hope to others.

Nick has traveled around the world, sharing his story with millions, sometimes in stadiums filled to capacity, speaking to a range of diverse groups such as students, teachers, young people, business professionals and church congregations of all sizes. Today this dynamic young evangelist has accomplished more than most people achieve in a lifetime. He’s an author, musician, actor, husband, and father of 4. He has gone skydiving, surfing, and his hobbies include fishing, painting, and swimming.

Nick is whole and you can be, too.

When Jesus asks, “Do you want to be well?” What will you say? Will you say, “yes?”

Jesus’ invitation to us is to live into the fullness of God. Power made perfect in weakness. Infinite power. Infinite grace. Infinite mercy. Infinite love. There’s always more- more to ask for, more to discover, more to receive, more to grow into, more to become, because that more is beyond our circumstance. It is in the midst of the circumstance.

I pray you are filled with the fullness of God. I pray that you will leave behind the chains of as soon as. Freed from the shackles. That you will not be stuck waiting and trusting a false understanding, false fix, a false god to save you- the false never will. Say yes to the One True Living God.

I pray you will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. May the fullness of God flood through your entire being.

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Man at the Pool Sermon © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: Turn and Return, based on Isaiah 65.1-5

Growing in Resilience
Day 26, Read Isaiah 65
Reflection: Turn and Return based on Isaiah 65:1-5a, The Voice

Eternal One: I was ready and willing to help before anyone even asked. I was found by people who did not seek Me; I showed My face and said, “Here I am! I am right here!” to a nation which did not call on Me.

I kept extending Myself to a people who don’t care a whit. All day long I opened my hands to those who constantly work against Me, those busy pursuing their own rotten path, inspired by their own rotten schemes.

These people continue to insult Me, right to My face, pursuing other gods, sacrificing in gardens and offering incense on altars made of bricks. They sit among the graves and spend their nights in secret rituals; they eat the flesh of pigs and pollute their pots with unclean meats. They have the gall to say, “Oooh, not so close! I am holier than you!”

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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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. 

Turn and Return © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer based on Jesus’ Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8)

seed-sower-jeremy-sams

Prayer based on Jesus’ parable of the sower
Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:1-15

Jesus, you sow yourself
The Word of Truth, generously
The Word of Life, graciously

Defend us from the Evil One
Who seeks to snatch us away

Fortify us for hard times and costly discipleship
That we may endure

Deliver us from distraction
From worldly desires and
All that would lure us and choke us with false promises

Till us
Turn us
Enrich us with every blessing of your Spirit
That we may be good, good soil
Forever faithful and fruitful for you
Amen

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Click Here for a reader’s theater version of the parable of the sower

Click Here for a prayer of confession based on the parable of the sower

Prayer based on Jesus’ Parable of the Sower © 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- We’re Off to See the Wizard (Psalm 115; Exodus 20)

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: We’re Off to See the Wizard 
Scriptures: Psalm 115:1-11; Exodus 20:1-6
Offered 10/16/16 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

Who or what do you… worship, trust, anchor your salvation? – Lisa Degrenia

A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will come out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshiping, we are becoming. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

What is it to have a God? What is God? The answer: a God is that to which we look for all good and in which we find refuge in every time of need. To have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe him with our whole heart. As I have often said, the trust and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust are right, then your God is the true God. On the other hand, if your trust is false and wrong, then you have not the true God. For these two belong together, faith and God. That to which your heart clings and entrusts itself is, I say, really your god. The purpose of this commandment, therefore, is to require true faith and cling to him alone. The meaning is: “See to it that you let me alone be your God and never seek another.” In other confidence of the heart, and these fly straight to the one true God and words: “Whatever good thing you lack, look to me for it and seek it from me, and whenever you suffer misfortune and distress, come and cling to me. I am the one who will satisfy you and help you out of every need. Only let your heart cling to no one else.” – Martin Luther, The Large Catechism

Song suggestions-
Give Us Clean Hands by Charlie Hall (CCLI Song #2060208)
Faithful by Rend Collective (CCLI Song #5769355)
Jesus Calls Us (United Methodist Hymnal #398)
Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above (United Methodist Hymnal #126)

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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: Camels, Needles and Who Shall be Saved (Mark 10:17-27; 1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Needle Gate, Camel Pose, Needle and Thread

Needle Gate, Camel Pose, Needle, and Thread

Message: Camels, Needles and Who Shall Be Saved
Scriptures: Mark 10:17-27; 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Offered 4/19/15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

I’m indebted to my friend Martha Mackey for sharing with me how the camel pose in yoga opened this passage of Scripture for her.
camel pose 1-4

Mark 10:17-27 NRSV
17 As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments:’You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

1 Timothy 6:17-19
17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

Dear God, I am so afraid to open my clenched fists! Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to? Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands? Please help me to gradually open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me. And what you want to give me is love, unconditional, everlasting love. Amen. – Henri Nouwen

A reflection on this passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes entitled Who Can Be Saved?

Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by you or laid aside for you,
Exalted for you or brought low for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
You are mine, and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. 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.

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

Prayer: You Save Us From Every Foe (Psalm 44:6-8)

Detail of the sculpture Fiducia in Dio (Trust in God) by Lorenzo Bartolini

Detail of the sculpture Fiducia in Dio (Trust in God) by Lorenzo Bartolini

Psalm 44:6-8 NRSV
For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes,
and have put to confusion those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever.

You save us from every foe
Those whose face we never see
Those whose face we know too well
Those without and within

You save us from every foe
Even ourselves – our own worst enemy
Who so easily misplace trust in who will save
Who can save

Who can save?
You save us from every foe
Order our minds
Our desires
Our thoughts
Order the work of our hands
The agenda of our days
Order our trust and our hope
To what is true
To you

Lord, we do not hope in ourselves, our technology, our governments, our laws, our tenacity, our courage, or our will, though all these things are all necessary to conquer hunger and provide justice. We hope in you. Amen.
– Thomas G. Petterpiece, Visions of a World Hungry

The man of the true religious tradition understands two things: liberty and obedience.
The first means knowing what you really want.
The second means knowing what you really trust.
– G.K. Chesterton, G.K.’s Weekly

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You Save Us From Every Foe © 2014 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.

God in My Image: an aha moment from Proverbs 6:16-23

Graphic from Dustin Beasley's blog, Endure Life

Graphic from Dustin Beasley’s blog, Endure Life

SCRIPTURE: Proverbs 6:16-23 The Message
Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion:

  1. eyes that are arrogant
  2. a tongue that lies
  3. hands that murder the innocent
  4. a heart that hatches evil plots
  5. feet that race down a wicked track
  6. a mouth that lies under oath
  7. a troublemaker in the family

Good friend, follow your father’s good advice; don’t wander off from your mother’s teachings. Wrap yourself in them from head to foot; wear them like a scarf around your neck. Wherever you walk, they’ll guide you; whenever you rest, they’ll guard you; when you wake up, they’ll tell you what’s next. For sound advice is a beacon, good teaching is a light, moral discipline is a life path.

OBSERVATION
The seven items on the list are destructive choices. They bring separation, pain, and injustice. God offers us the way of goodness and life. Following this path brings direction and protection.

APPLICATION
The first two vows of the United Methodist Baptismal and Membership Liturgy
1. Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?
2. Do you accept the freedom and power that God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?

Ephesians 4:26-27 NRSV
Be angry but do not sin;
do not let the sun go down on your anger,
and do not make room for the devil.

I am very comfortable with the God of grace, mercy and love. So much so that when a friend in my Bible study class asked me about this passage I didn’t know what to say. God is love and yet God hates. God hates not only evil actions but God also hates people who choose them. How can this be?

Humans can love and hate at the same time, but our hate usually leads to sin. Prejudice, sectarianism, gossip, judging others, labeling, bullying, violence. Hate is not a healthy or faithful option for me.

There is such a thing as the wrath of God. God cries out that oppressors be stopped, that violence end. The cry [in Psalm 137] is not literally to kill babies, but to utterly destroy the offspring of greed and exploitation, to end the line of succession of violence and abuse, to chop off the family tree of hate and fear and selfishness. The change is built on love of the oppressors— but God’s merciful justice requires that some things get destroyed. As Revelation 11:18 says, “Your wrath has come, and the time… for destroying those who destroy the earth.” – Steve Garnaas-Holmes, About That Psalm

God is without sin. Always. God can love and hate without sin. Maybe I’ve tried to box God in to my limitations. Scriptures like this are a reminder that God is greater. God isn’t an enabler who tolerates destructive choices passively. To love means to take a stand. Evil and foolish choices have serious consequences, the main one being they put us in opposition to God. God is good, holy and just and thus opposes all that is not. The wonder and grace of God is that God continues to extend the offer of reconciliation and new life to the opposition.

A God small enough to fit inside your head is not big enough to meet your needs.
– Chuck Missler

PRAYER: Your Word, Your Way
Lord God, help me love you
All of you
I want to know you, follow your path
I want to be wise
Far from foolishness and evil

Help me love your word
All of it
I want to cherry pick passages
Box you in to what is comfortable for me
What I understand and want
Fashion you in my image

You are greater
Your thoughts are greater
Your greatness draws me close
Your greatness weakens my knees in awe, respect and worship

Save me from extremes
too soft, too hard
too tolerant, too legalistic
too much love, too much law
too much me

Help me love you
your word
your way
Always
Amen

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God in a Box graphic courtesy of Dustin Beasley’s blog, Endurelife

This devotion is based on the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here

Prayer: Your Word, Your Way © 2013 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 art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.