Bless Christ, Through Whom All Things are Made

Fresco of Christ creating the sun, moon and stars from the St. Paraskevi Shrine, Greenlawn, NY

This hymn text was born during my seminary days during some quiet time spent with Colossians 1:15-18.

Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. (NRSV)

In this passage, creation is described as an ongoing act. The fullness of Trinity is found: Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer; yet all things are created and are held together through Christ, the Word spoken in creation, the eternal Word made flesh.

I woke up this morning surprised to be reminded of this song. I haven’t thought about it in years, but it wants to accompany me this holy week. I pray it is a welcome companion to you as well. – Lisa <><

Bless Christ Through Whom All Things Are Made
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
a hymn text based on Col. 1:15-18
Meter 88.88 (LM)
Suggested Tune- POXON

Bless Christ through whom all things are made.
Join seen and unseen in their praise
of One who both creates, sustains
who goes before, in justice reigns.

Who makes the lion and the lamb
the farthest star, the smallest hand
dominions, rulers, and their pow’rs
the steadfast mount, the fleeting hours?

Who made the ore for blood soaked nails?
Who made the thorns and whipping tails?
Who made the sun that would not shine
and made the tree on which Christ died?

Who makes the waters of our birth?
Who makes the dust where we return?
Who makes the way for us to die
and rise to everlasting life?

Bless Christ though whom all things are made.
Join seen and unseen in their praise
of One who both creates, sustains
who goes before, in justice reigns.

This text was selected to be part of a United Methodist worship resource entitled Worship and Song. Each lyric or liturgy I write feels like a gift. I am excited and thrilled that this gift will be shared with so many.

For a PDF of the hymn as it will appear in the Worship and Song pew edition, click here Bless Christ, Through Whom All Things are Made

© 2000, revised 2009
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. (by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, http://www.revlisad.com) Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Worship Resources for Palm Sunday

palm_sunday_lg

Palm Sunday by William Hemmerling

Christians celebrate Palm Sunday the Sunday before Easter, remembering Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This event is mentioned in all four Gospels. (Mark 11:1–11; Matthew 21:1–11; Luke 19:28–44; and John 12:12–19).

Palm Sunday is also the first day of Holy Week, a time when many Christians reflect on the last week of Jesus’ life in preparation for Easter.

I pray these resources are helpful to your meaningful celebrations. – Lisa <><

PRAYERS
Opening Prayer for Palm Sunday by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
ONE:
Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
King of the Universe,
In Jesus Christ, you rule and reign,
Not as a tyrant, but as a humble servant
Riding on a donkey, washing feet, suffering from injustice
Open our hearts this day, take your throne
Open our lips this day with shouts of praise

ALL:
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!

Palm Sunday Prayera prayer of petition on the theme Hosanna, Save Now! by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
What did they cry out that first Palm Sunday?
Hosanna!
Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of the Lord!
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Hosanna in the Highest!
Hosanna! Save Now!

Jesus, save us
Save us from the oppression of the Romans
Save us from the corruption of the Temple
Save us from slavery to sin and death
Save us from hunger and thirst
Save us

What are you crying out for God to save?

add our own petitions

Jesus, you are our Living Hope
You are One Who Saves

Salvation means wholeness
Lord, we need it
We need it for ourselves
We need it for our families
We need it for our places of work
For our schools
For our community
For your church
For those who are suffering in body, in mind, in spirit
For our world

For an end to the evil, injustice, and oppression
For an end to the hate, the division, the despairing

Lord, we need your salvation
We need your wholeness and we need it now
In our mourning, our grieving,
In our lamenting, and in our loss

We need it in our rejoicing and our celebration
We need your salvation
We need your wholeness

You are the Lamb of God
You are the King of Kings
You are the Christ, the Anointed One, the Savior of us all

We cling to you and we cling to your cross
We cry Hosanna! Save Now!

Make this real in us
Real in your church
Real in your world

conclude with the Lord’s Prayer

Consider using Blessed is the King by Steve Garnaas Holmes as an affirmation of faith or prayer of commitment. Coming Kingdom is a powerful call to action. He also supplies several resources entitled Hosanna on his blog, Unfolding Light:
Resource 1
Resource 2
Resource 3
Resource 4

READER’S THEATRE SCRIPTURE SCRIPTS
Reader’s Theatre: Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
Based on Matthew 21:1-11 NIV
Parts: Narrator, Jesus, Prophet, All (congregation as the crowd)

NARRATOR
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives,
Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them

JESUS
Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.

NARRATOR
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

PROPHET
Say to the Daughter of Zion, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

NARRATOR
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.
They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.

Introduction to the song begins
A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds went ahead of him and those that followed shouted

ALL SHOUTING:
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!

Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!

ALL SINGING:
Use one of the suggested songs or one of a similar theme. A choir anthem, solo, or song led by a praise band could also be used at this point.

Hosanna, Loud Hosanna, United Methodist Hymnal #278
Mantos y Palmas, United Methodist Hymnal #279
All Glory, Laud and Honor, United Methodist Hymnal #280
Hosanna (Praise is Rising), CCLI #4662491
Hosanna, CCLI #21545
Hosanna (Be Lifted Higher), CCLI 5780152

Speak the final lines during an interlude before the final verse or chorus of the song

NARRATOR
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

ALL:
This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.

Click Here for a Reader’s Theatre script which does not include singing and extends the story a few verses (Matthew 21:1-17).

PALM SUNDAY SERMONS
Pick Your Parade (Zechariah 9:9; Luke 19:41-44; Psalm 146)

Jesus the King (Luke 19; Zechariah 9)

The Palm Sunday Path (Mark 11:1-10)

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Palm Sunday Prayer © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
Opening Prayer for Palm Sunday © 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
You are welcome to use this work in worship or other devotional settings with proper attribution. Leave a message for posting and publication considerations.

Reader’s Theater: Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11)
© 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.

Adapted from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Make Your Own Advent Wreath- ideas plus two sets of readings

I’m encouraging every household to create and Advent Wreath for their celebrations this year. Below you’ll find some easy, inexpensive options, many you may already own.

This year, Advent begins Sunday, November 29th.

First, a Little History 
“Research by Prof. Haemig of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, points to Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808–1881), a Protestant pastor in Germany and a pioneer in urban mission work among the poor, as the inventor of the modern Advent wreath in the 19th century. During Advent, children at the mission school Rauhes Haus, founded by Wichern in Hamburg, would ask daily if Christmas had arrived. In 1839, he built a large wooden ring (made out of an old cartwheel) with 20 small red and 4 large white candles. A small candle was lit successively every weekday and Saturday during Advent. On Sundays, a large white candle was lit.

The custom gained ground among Protestant churches in Germany and evolved into the smaller wreath with four or five candles known today. Roman Catholics in Germany began to adopt the custom in the 1920s, and in the 1930s it spread to North America.” – Wikipedia

Ideas for Creating Your Own Advent Wreath
I’m a strong advocate for grace and creativity in Christian practices, especially practices that are relatively new. (Yes, a practice from the 1800’s is relatively new given Christians continue practices dating back thousands of years.)

With that said, now’s a great time to create an Advent Wreath for your home. Yes, you could buy an Advent Wreath. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, you could also create one. Each choice will be intentional, adding to its meaning. The act of creating the wreath will be a prayer in itself. The point of a Christian practice is to help you more deeply connect with God and others. What will help you connect?

COLORS 
Modern Advent Wreaths often use four purple or blue candles plus a white candle in the center. The purple/blue candles can represent many things- repentance, longing, waiting, sovereignty, night, etc. The white candle is often called the Christ Candle, representing Jesus, and isn’t lit till Christmas Eve. Sometimes, one of the purple/blue candles is replaced with a pink candle to represent joy.

Some Advent Wreaths use other colors. The “original” used red and white. What would it be like for the color of the candles to get lighter as you make your way to the white Christ Candle. What if the Christ Candle were gold or silver?

There’s no need to stress over authenticity or getting it right. Symbols are elastic. What colors will you choose? What do they represent for you?

CANDLES
Tapered candles will show the passage of time. Pillar candles are also beautiful. You could even use simple votive candles or tea lights. Be sure to use the needed candle sticks, platforms, or holders for your candles.

NUMBER OF CANDLES
The “original” wreath used well over 20 candles, lighting one a day from the beginning of Advent to Christmas Eve. This connects that wreath to the very popular Advent calendar or Countdown calendar. Most modern wreaths use 5 candles. One for each week of Advent plus the Christ Candle. How many will you use? Why?

SHAPE
Advent Wreaths are often shaped as a circle, a symbol of eternity. I’ve seen “wreaths” shaped like a spiral, a cross, or with the candles in a row like a path. What shape will you choose and why?

OPTIONAL ITEMS 

  • Fresh or artificial greenery. Evergreens, holly, and ivy are often used. How about poinsettia? What do you have in your yard which could be used?
  • Use figures from your nativity set to decorate your Advent Wreath. How about an empty manger in place of the Christ Candle? Replace it with the Christ Candle on Christmas Eve and/or place the baby in the manger. I have an olive wood carving from Israel of a pregant woman I love to use. On Christmas Eve, it’s replaced with a carving of a woman holding a baby.

advent wreath with MaryWhat other ideas do you have? Be sure to post your ideas plus a picture of your Advent Wreath in the comments! Don’t forget the explanation of why you chose what you did. 

ADVENT WREATH READINGS
Below you’ll find two simple options for readings to accompany lighting your Advent Wreath. You could also search the web for other readings, use the ones your congregation uses, or write your own.

1. Let in the Light
Four readings, each includes a scripture and concludes with a beautiful prayer by Dimitri of Rostov. Plus readings for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Epiphany.

2. Hope, Peace, Joy, Love
Only four readings. Each includes a scripture from Psalms and concludes with a Christmas carol.

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You are welcome to use either of these resources with proper attribution. (by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, http://www.revlisad.com) Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish any of these resources in any form.

Advent and Christmas Bible Reading Plans

There are so many preparations for Christmas- decorating, shopping, cooking, gatherings. It can feel overwhelming and stressful, even lonely. It sounds cliche, but it’s easy to miss “the reason for the season” in the rush of pressure and consumerism.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. We can prepare our souls in the midst of the other preparations. You have time for this. It just takes a plan.

Below you’ll find five seasonal Bible Reading Plans to choose from plus some ideas for integrating them into your day. If you have other ideas for using them or other spiritual practices that keep you close to God during the holidays, I’d love to hear about them. Thanks for leaving a comment.

May you find yourself at the end of this season even closer to Christ. – Lisa <><

Ideas for Using the Bible Reading Plans

  • Take time for reading before a meal, before bed, or first thing in the morning with your coffee or tea
  • Gather your loved ones around your nativity or advent wreath for the reading of the day. Wouldn’t it be fun to use your nativity figures to act out the reading!
  • Find a quiet place, light a candle, breathe, rest in God’s Word

1. Home for Christmas: Advent Wreath Readings Plus a Simple Bible Reading Plan
2020’s been a rough year so I created a plan with lots of resources and options. My hope is that this plan will help and encourage households as they worship together at home.

Home for Christmas contains the following:
• Four simple Advent Wreath readings
• Lyrics to five public domain Christmas carols, one for each week of Advent plus Christmas Eve.
• 18 scripture readings from Matthew, Luke, and John. Five readings for the first three weeks of Advent and three readings for the fourth week of Advent. Some scriptures are repeated so folks can savor the reading.
• Each scripture reading is accompanied by a title and sentence prayer
• Readings for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Epiphany which include scripture, prayer, and lighting the Advent Wreath.

CLICK HERE for a pdf for printing this resource as a booklet.

2. Live Hope, Give Hope: A Plan to Share the Goodness of Jesus at Christmas
Readings from Isaiah, Matthew, Luke, John, and Psalms
Also includes a sentence prayer and action prompts to Help, Offer, Pray, or Encourage
December 1-31, 6 readings per week
This was originally offered in 2016, so you’ll need to adapt the day for “worship and rest” to fit this year’s calendar.

3. Comfort and Joy: A Simple Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Readings from Matthew, Luke, and Johnbible luke 2
Some of the readings are even repeated so you can go slow and go deep. It also includes a sentence prayer for each reading.
December 1-31, 5 readings per week
This was originally offered in 2014, so you’ll need to adapt the two days for “worship and rest” to fit this year’s calendar.

4. Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Advent Bible Readings from Old Testament to New
Old and New Testament Readings
December 1-25, everyday
This reading plan highlights the Old Testament names and prophesies concerning the Messiah which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

5. The Story of Christmas Reading Plan
Fifteen simple readings from Matthew, Luke, and John, will take you from the first visiting angel to the young family returning to Nazareth from being refugees in Egypt. If you would like to read about the birth of Jesus (Day 6) on Christmas Day, start this reading plan on December 20th with one scripture reading per day.

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You are welcome to use any/all of these resources with proper attribution. (by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, http://www.revlisad.com) Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish any of these resources in any form.

Two Prayers Based on John 14-15

Summer in the Scriptures John (12)
Prayer Based on John 14, especially verses 15-17
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”

Spirit of Truth, come live in me
Rest on me and ready me

Seeing as you see
Your mind and heart within me
Hearing and heading your counsel
Wisdom of the ages
Divine and life-giving and intimate
Speak, I’m listening

Spirit of Truth, come live in me
Rest on me and release me

Empowered by your might,
Steadfast and vulnerable
Strength of soul and character
Strength of virtue and honor
Strength to build up and make way
Your truth pouring forth, generous and creative
Awakening and instructing and sustaining

Spirit of Truth, come live in me
I ask this humbly
Recognizing the price of this gift
I ask this reverently
For your honor and glory alone
Amen

Summer in the Scriptures John (13)

This hymn text was written at the request of a pastor friend many years ago. She wanted a hymn which expressed the themes of John 15:1-17. I share it today remembering her; thankful for her friendship and encouragement back when I was first beginning to write.

You Are the Source
Meter- 86.86 with Refrain (CM with Refrain)
Suggested Tune- GIFT OF FINEST WHEAT (United Methodist Hymnal #629)

Refrain–
You are the Source of grace and life,
The Root of all that’s true
You join us to this mystery
As we abide in You

Verses–
Dear children of this fallen sod
The Gard’ner knows our need
In grafting us to Christ the Vine
We gain eternity (Refrain)

For we are branches of the Vine
Joined cross both time and place
No fruit is grown apart from Christ
For what is grown needs grace (Refrain)

You prune our lives with utmost care
So we might bear more fruit
The fruit of justice, peace, and love
Lived out in all we do (Refrain)

Eternal Vine, most Holy Seed
Sewn as Your willing Son
So intertwine Your family vine
That we might live as one (Refrain)

_______________

For the next few months, I’m reading a chapter from the Gospels each day. This is part of the Summer in the Scriptures reading plan sponsored by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Click Here for the reading plan.

You’re most welcome to read along and to join the Facebook discussion group, Summer in the Scriptures. You don’t need to be a Methodist or attend a Methodist church. All are welcome and all means all.

As part of the Facebook group, I’ve been supplying prayers based on the day’s reading. Feel free to post your prayers and observations based on the readings here or there as well.

May the grace of the Gospels, the challenge, and the call, inspire us to great faith and great good works in Jesus’ name. – Lisa <

Spirit of Truth, Come Live in Me © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You Are the Source © 2000 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.