Making Room, A Christmas Prayer Poem based on Luke 2.1-7

change sheets
Reading: Luke 2:1-7

She gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.
– Luke 2:7

Prayer: Making Room
No room in the inn
I can understand this
There’s only so much space
And it’s already taken
It’s simple
Factual

But your blessed Word says more
No room for them in the inn

Them
Joseph and Mary are them
Unlike me and mine
Suspicious strangers
With complicated needs

I can’t bring them in
No time
No room

I won’t bring them in
Give them access to all I have
All I’ve worked for
All I love

It isn’t wise
It isn’t safe

The stable is for them
Stay there
Over there
that hidden place
that place in the back
that place for animals
away from where I live
not here with me and mine

But
I want Jesus
and
Jesus is them

There’s no room for him
if there’s no room for them

That’s who Jesus is
That’s what Jesus does
He makes room

Born in a stable
making room
for the humble and the homeless

King of kings
making room
for the rich and the royal

An outsider
making room
for those who’ve been
turned away
left out
rejected

An insider
making room
for the distinguished and established

A laborer
making room

A wise teacher
making room

A refugee
making room

making room
making room
always making room

That’s who you are Jesus
That’s what you do
You make room

You’ve even made room for me

Now make room in me
Open me
Awaken me
Release me
To do what you do
To make room

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Prayer: Making Room  © 2014, updated 2021 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.

Do You Hear What I Hear? A Devotional Based on Beloved Christmas Carols

Songs of Christmas 1110 x 624The Christmas Story is full of singing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, the congregation of Coronado Community United Methodist Church in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, will reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs.

You’re most welcome to join us. Just CLICK HERE to download the free resource guide. Our journey will begin Monday, November 29, and continue all the way to Epiphany, January 6, 2022.

Some songs will be old friends. Others will be new. May their beauty and power draw you close to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. – Lisa <><

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Do You Hear What I Hear, the Songs of Christmas © 2021 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this compilation for personal devotions.
Do not publish this work in any form.

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 28th.

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.

Run Beloved, Run – a poem for All Saints Day

running feet

Hebrews 12:1-3 NRSV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.

You are surrounded
By great and good companions

With witnesses who ran the race before you
Now cheering you on
Inspiring you with their courageous faith

With witnesses running beside you
Churning up the dust of this well-traveled-path
Encouraging you with the steady beat of their beautiful feet

Run beloved, run
Lay aside every weight
Every worry
Every excuse
Every inner critic shouting against inspiration

Lay aside the sin that clings so closely
Every self-serving motivation
Every self-medicating choice
Every weak thing you’ve trusted more than God

Lay them aside
and run

Run beloved, run
Run with perseverance the race
Daring
Enduring
Alive

Looking not to the dust, but to Jesus
The Pioneer and Perfecter of your faith
Look not to the right or to the left
Look to Jesus
Focus
Follow

Jesus is The Way, opening the path
The Truth, clearing the clutter
The Light, blazing the trail

He runs
He endures
For the sake of the joy
Of setting the joy before you
and in you

Run
Run remembering
Joy is your strength
Remember and endure
For this race comes with a cross
A course of blood and tears
Mocking and piercing

Take it up
Disregard its shame (that ancient enemy)
Let it fall by the wayside
Tired scraps on the breath of new life

Take it up and run
Sit down in the next life
Not this one

Run beloved, run
Following and looking and remembering him who endured
So that you may not grow weary
Or lose heart
For your strongest step is yet to come

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Be sure to check out Steve Garnaas Holmes reflection Cheer, on cheering on his niece as she ran the Boston Marathon and how that connects to our spiritual life.

Run Beloved, Run © 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.

Exhalting Christ- a prayer based on Philippians 2

jesus mosaic from hagia sophia

Jesus Christ, mosaic detail from the Hagia Sophia

based on Philippians 2:5-11 

Jesus, you do not exploit
Power over
Power used as advantage
Power plays

You empty yourself of power’s privileges
You choose solidarity, even with slaves
You choose womb and flesh
vulnerability and blood

You welcome humility- our earthiness, our dust
You welcome the mission of salvation

You accept humiliation and torture and agony
You embrace death so creation may have new and true life

moment of silence

We exalt you, Risen Christ!
We praise you and adore you!
Your name above all names
Your story shared through all generations
Your arms open in welcome for all people

May every tongue confess, “Jesus Christ is Lord!”
May every soul receive your embrace!

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Exhalting Christ © 2021 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.