You are the Resurrection and the Life, an affirmation and prayer based on John 11

I am resurrection and life 1000x

John 11:25-26
Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

In the midst of
hunger, disease, and great need
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
conquest, prejudice, and oppression
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
water, bread, and wine
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
questions, promises, and prayers
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
loneliness, hot tears, and agonizing decisions
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
betrayal, saving your own skin, and abandonment
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
injustice, brutality, and the misuse of power
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
mocking, torture, and excruciating pain
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
grave clothes, spices, and stone
You are the Resurrection and the Life

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This affirmation/prayer was inspired by Jesus final hours. It is amazing to me how his situations speak to our modern experience in fresh and relevant ways.

Consider adapting this affirmation/prayer for a group setting by having all present speak “You are the Resurrection and the Life.”

You are the Resurrection and the Life © 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.

Christ, Light of the World for Prayer Beads

Anglican-Prayer-Beads

Anglican Prayer Beads (sometimes known as Protestant Prayer Beads or Christian Prayer Beads) are a relatively new form of prayer, blending the Orthodox Jesus Prayer Rope and the Roman Catholic Rosary. The thirty-three bead design was created by the Rev. Lynn Bauman in the mid-1980s, through the prayerful exploration and discovery of a contemplative prayer group.

Like other prayer bead practices, the rhythm and repetition of the prayers promote a peaceful stillness before a time of silence as we rest in God and/or a time of silence as we listen for God.

prayerbeaddiagramThere are no set prayer patterns for Anglican Prayer Beads. I took that as freedom to compile some of my own.

This one was inspired by a song from the Community of Taize entitled Christe Lux Mundi, which means, “O Christ, Light of the World, whoever follows you will have the light of life.” I paired this promise with a choice of scriptures on the theme of light.

Begin with the cross and invitatory bead. Pray around the circle of cruciform beads and week beads three times in an unhurried manner then exit with the closing prayers for the invitatory bead and cross.

Cross
In the name of God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Invitatory Bead
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Cruciform Beads
Choose one of the following scriptures to read each time you come to a cruciform bead

John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

John 3:18-21
Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.

Matthew 5:14-16
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

The Weeks
Repeat the phrase seven times, once for each of the seven beads
O Christ, Light of the World,
Whoever follows you will have the light of life

Invitatory Bead
The Lord’s Prayer

Cross
Hallelujah! Bless the Lord! Thanks be to God!

Click here for more on the symbolism, use, and several other prayer patterns to use with Anglican Prayer Beads. Click here for even more prayer bead patterns or consider making one of your own like I did. (If you do, post it below!)

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Christ, Light of the World for Prayer Beads © 2016 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.

O Antiphons for Prayer Beads

Anglican-Prayer-Beads

Anglican Prayer Beads (sometimes known as Protestant Prayer Beads or Christian Prayer Beads) are a relatively new form of prayer, blending the Orthodox Jesus Prayer Rope and the Roman Catholic Rosary. The thirty-three bead design was created by the Rev. Lynn Bauman in the mid-1980s, through the prayerful exploration and discovery of a contemplative prayer group.

Like other prayer bead practices, the rhythm and repetition of the prayers promote a peaceful stillness before a time of silence as we rest in God and/or a time of silence as we listen for God.

prayerbeaddiagramThere are no set prayer patterns for Anglican Prayer Beads. I took that as freedom to compile some of my own.

This one is based on the O Antiphons, a set of Old Testament prophetic images for Jesus Christ. They’ve been used in worship during the Advent and Christmas Seasons since the 8th century. Their most familiar form is the beloved hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Begin with the cross and invitatory bead. Pray around the circle of cruciform beads and week beads three times in an unhurried manner then exit with the closing prayers for the invitatory bead and cross.

Cross
In the name of God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Invitatory Bead
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Cruciform Beads
Come Lord Jesus, Come

The Weeks
The numbers are to help you move through the seven beads
1. O Emmanuel, come save us
2. O Wisdom, come teach us
3. O Adonai, come rescue us
4. O Root of Jesse, come deliver us
5. O Key of David, come release us
6. O Dayspring, come enlighten us
7. O King of all Nations, come redeem us

Invitatory Bead
The Lord’s Prayer

Cross
Hallelujah! Bless the Lord! Thanks be to God!

Click here for more on the symbolism, use, and several other prayer patterns to use with Anglican Prayer Beads. Click here for even more prayer bead patterns or consider making one of your own like I did. (If you do, post it below!)

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O Aniphons for Prayer Beads © 2016 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.

Reader’s Theater: Jesus Drives Out an Unclean Spirit (Mark 1:21-28)

A Demoniac in the Synagogue by James Tissot

A Demoniac in the Synagogue by James Tissot

Reader’s Theatre: Jesus Drives Out an Unclean Spirit
Based on Mark 1:21-28 (NRSV)
Parts: Narrator One, Narrator Two, Man, Jesus
With optional singing

NARRATOR ONE
Jesus and his followers went to Capernaum.
When the sabbath came, Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.
They were astounded at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

NARRATOR TWO
Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit,

MAN – Crying out
What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are, the Holy One of God.

JESUS- Rebuking him
Be silent, and come out of him!

NARRATOR ONE- MAN cries out as crying is referenced
And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.

Pause
Optional- Instrumentation begins and continues through the singing of the song.

They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another,

NARRATOR TWO
What is this? A new teaching—with authority!
He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.

NARRATOR ONE
At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

ALL SINGING
I’m so Glad Jesus Lifted Me
The Faith We Sing #2151

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Adapted from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

I’m so Glad Jesus Lifted Me. African American Spiritual, Public Domain
Found in The Faith We Sing #2151

Reader’s Theater: Jesus Drives Out an Unclean Spirit (Mark 1:21-28)
© 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Reflection and Prayer: Seed, Wheat, Bread (Psalm 1, Matthew 3:8-12, Matthew 13:24-30, John 6)

wheatThere are times when a line from scripture opens up a path through other scriptures to a new place with God.

My most recent trip began with Psalm 1, a comparison of those who follow and delight in the ways of God and those who choose their own path, which is often destructive for themselves and others. The first are like trees “planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.” The second “are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”

Chaff is straw- withered, brittle stalks remaining after a grain harvest. Nothing like a tree. Trees take longer to produce fruit, but remain season after season.

Chaff is also the discarded casing around the grain itself. Wheat and chaff, for example. The wheat is separated from the chaff by throwing it into the air. The heavier wheat falls to the ground while the chaff is “driven away” by the wind.

This led to Matthew 3:8-12 and the sharp, prophetic voice of John the Baptizer. I knew I’d find references to the division of wheat and chaff, but also found references to trees and fruit. “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.” (v. 8) Repentance means to do a u-turn, to do a 180 from walking in our own ways to walking with God. Our lives should show this change season after season in delicious (from the Latin words for delight and entice) and nutritious (life-giving) words and actions.

A tree must be nurtured to continue to bear fruit, just like our relationship with God must be nurtured. Presumption, apathy, legalism, entitlement, and judgmental attitudes bear no fruit. Barren trees represent a withered, brittle, barren being. The Baptizer reminds us trees can be cut down the same as crops.

The wheat theme led to Matthew 13:24-30, a parable of Jesus about a field of wheat and weeds. Life is a mixture of good and evil this side of heaven. We are a mixture as well. Will we cooperate with God to nurture the wheat or will we go our way and nurture the weeds? Will we embrace God’s patience with all that is in and around us, knowing we may not recognize it’s truth now, knowing there is still time for change?

Images of seeds, wheat and harvest led to bread which led to John 6, where Jesus reveals his divine person and purpose using the metaphor of bread. This is where my imagining opened my heart again to God’s great love and grace in Jesus.

Jesus- the seed of eternity sewn in a humble womb
Growing in strength and wisdom
Irrigated in water and the Spirit
Bearing much fruit

Jesus- cut down in a harvest of hate
Sifted in the wind of accusation and mocking
Broken between the stones of injustice and fear
Seasoned with spices
and salty tears
Covered in cloth
and set in a dry cool place
In time… risen
The Bread of Life

John 6:32-35
Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

And we come full circle to the water promises of Psalm 1. Wow!

Now, more wow. If we are followers of Christ, we become like our Jesus. The scriptures even name the followers of Christ his Body. Our journey is too one of seed, wheat and bread for the world.

Take a breath and let that nourish your soul. – Lisa <><

Jesus we want to be wheat,
But we are so often weeds
Sewn in self deception
Driven by winds beyond our making

Take away our bent to sinning
Our twisted torture
Our dry disorder
and dis-ease

Take us
Plant us anew
Nurture us to fruitfulness

Take us
Harvest us anew
Deliver us from evil

Take us
Make us anew
Your Body
Your Bread
Blessed and broken
Risen and redeemed
A mystery
A meal of grace
For our hunger
And our hungry world
Amen

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Click here for a collection of quotes on the theme Jesus, The Bread of Life

Reflection and Prayer: Seed, Wheat, Bread © 2015 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 and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.

Jesus, The Hen: when it’s time to weep

Detail from Descent from the Cross by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden

Detail from Descent from the Cross by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden

Matthew 23:27; Luke 13:34 NRSV
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

The tears which flow from our eyes from time to time are illustrations of the tears which Jesus shed as he looked down upon Jerusalem and lamented, “How often I would have gathered you to myself as a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not”. They are signs of the pain in God’s heart when even one sheep goes astray. Tears are an acknowledgement of the Fall, but as they flow from a truly-repentant heart, they are also the first signs of hope. The dam of sinful resistance has collapsed and the Water of Life can now flow. – Steve Harper, The Water of Repentance

In Christian symbolism Jerusalem is everyplace and the ultimate place. Jerusalem is the conflicted city within our hearts and the hoped for heavenly city of promise. Jerusalem is Earth herself. We lament over the world and our continual warfare and our ongoing destruction of land and seas and air. We are the holy place that kills prophets, healers, sages and innocents in the complex chaos of our passions.
– Suzanne Guthrie, Lament Over Jerusalem

Click here for a deep reflection and call to lament by Steve Garnaas-Holmes entitled For the Hurt of my People.

Extended quote by Barbara Brown Taylor from The Christian Century (2/25/86)
If you have ever loved someone you could not protect, then you understand the depth of Jesus’ lament. All you can do is open your arms. You cannot make anyone walk into them. Meanwhile, this is the most vulnerable posture in the world –wings spread, breast exposed –but if you mean what you say, then this is how you stand. …

… Jesus won’t be king of the jungle in this or any other story. What he will be is a mother hen, who stands between the chicks and those who mean to do them harm. She has no fangs, no claws, no rippling muscles. All she has is her willingness to shield her babies with her own body. If the fox wants them, he will have to kill her first; which he does, as it turns out. He slides up on her one night in the yard while all the babies are asleep. When her cry wakens them, they scatter.

She dies the next day where both foxes and chickens can see her — wings spread, breast exposed — without a single chick beneath her feathers. It breaks her heart . . . but if you mean what you say, then this is how you stand.

Extended quote by Jim Harnish from It’s Enough to Make You Cry
Take a good look; a look that penetrates the self-protective shields of social acceptability; a look that goes deeply into the heart; a look that is a finite expression of the infinite love with which God looks out on our world, and it’s enough to make anyone with a heart cry.

It’s what the prophet Jeremiah felt when he looked at his world and wrote, “If only my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears, I would weep day and night for the wounds of my people.” (Jeremiah 9:1)

Read the headlines or watch the evening news and we know why Jesus wept over Jerusalem saying, “If they only knew the things that make for peace.” (Luke 19:42)

We weep for residents of Tel Aviv fleeing to bomb shelters and for Palestinians who have nowhere to hide from the attacks that are destroying their homes in Gaza.

We weep for thousands of children making their way across our border only to be caught up in our hopelessly confused and politicized immigration system.

We weep for millions of people who are homeless refugees because of the conflicts in Ukraine, in parts of Africa, and as a result of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We weep for the lives that have been lost in jets that have been blown out of the sky.

And we weep — the way Jesus wept beside the grave of his friend, Lazarus – for the deeply personal wounds, hurts, disappointments that sooner or late come crashing in on every one of us.

With Jeremiah, we ask, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?” (Jeremiah 8:22)

I also know how Jeremiah felt when he said: “If only I could flee for shelter in the desert/to leave my people and forget them.” (Jeremiah 9:2)

I’d probably not choose the desert. I might take a house on the beach or a cabin in the mountains. I might just turn off the television, cancel the newspaper, go to a movie and stop paying attention to the pain and suffering around me. Sometimes we’d all like to flee.

Weep or flee? Which will it be? The truth is that there are times for both. There are times when I need to weep for the wounds of the world around me. And there are times when I need to accept Jesus’ invitation, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31)

So, where is God in all of this? It may be when Jeremiah hears God say, “I am going to refine them, for what else can I do with my people?” (Jeremiah 9:7)

I’m not suggesting that God causes the terrible things that happen in order to teach us a lesson. I’m a Wesleyan, not a Calvinist. Most of the things that make us weep are a direct result of human decisions that are an outright contradiction of the will of God. Our sinful choices are enough to make God cry.

Although God does not cause everything that happens, God is able to use anything that happens to refine us, the way gold and silver are refined. Instead of making us bitter, it can make us better.

The Spirit of God is present in our tears to break our hearts with the things that break the heart of God, to show us the ways in which we contribute to the pain of the world, to form us more fully into the likeness of Christ, and to enable us to participate in God’s healing work in this world. If there is a “balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul” it will be found in the hearts, lives and actions of faithful people who become the agents of God’s love in the lives of others.

Perhaps the Christ-shaped alternative is not just to weep or to flee, but to become God’s healing presence in the world. At least it’s worth praying for.

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

Reader’s Theater: Jesus Calms the Storm (Mark 4:35-41)

Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Ludolf Backhuysen. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Ludolf Backhuysen. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Reader’s Theater: Jesus Calms the Storm
Based on Mark 4:35-41 (NIV)
Parts: NARRATOR, JESUS, ALL (congregation as the disciples)

Feel free to adapt the script to Matthew or Luke’s version of the story. Also, feel free to add sound effects for the storm, either recorded or a portion of the congregation live as another role in the storytelling.

NARRATOR
Jesus had been teaching and healing all day in Capernaum, near the Sea of Galilee.
When evening came, Jesus said to his disciples,

JESUS
Let us go over to the other side

NARRATOR
Leaving the crowd behind, the disciples took Jesus along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.

A furious squall came up,
and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.
The disciples woke him and said to him,

ALL
Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?

NARRATOR
Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves

JESUS
Quiet! Be still!

NARRATOR
Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

JESUS
Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?

NARRATOR
They were terrified and asked each other,

ALL
Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!

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Looking for more on this scripture passage? Click here for a wonderful excerpt of the book Undone: A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life by Michelle Cushatt.

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.

Reader’s Theater: Jesus Calms the Storm (Mark 4:35-41) © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia. You are welcome to use this work in a worship or other devotional setting with proper attribution. Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.