When the Spirit Chases You With the Message You Need to Hear

Freedom - A sculpture by Zenos Frudakis

Freedom by Zenos Frudakis

Themes of slavery and freedom keep chasing me this Lenten season.

The message seems to come from random places, but I’m confident this isn’t random. I trust the Holy Spirit is working all of this together for my good. There’s something I need to know and I need to know it now.

First, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 came up in my Scripture Reading Plan
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

This got me thinking about shrouds and shackles and slavery. How am I bound? It also got me thinking about the Spirit’s promise of seeing clearly and freedom.

In my morning sacred reading, I’m making my way through Jesus, a Pilgrimage by James Martin, SJ. It’s glorious and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

A couple of days after the Corinthians passage, my book reading discusses the raising of Lazarus from John 11. More shrouds and shackles! Lazarus is wrapped up like a mummy. The first scripture talked about slavery to condemnation and the law. Now it’s expanded to include slavery to sin and death.

And again the Good News- New Life, Resurrection, and Freedom in Christ! Unbind him!

Selections from John 11:34-44
34 Jesus said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” … 38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. … 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

soar by scott erickson

Soar by Scott Erickson

Then came the scriptures associated with Sunday’s sermon on God freeing the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. We serve a God who saves, a God who delivers us from shackles and shame and sin and death. That is our God!

Check out this promise from Exodus 16:6-7. In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord. 

Then this picture came my way. Soar by Scott Erickson. Isn’t it fantastic! All of his work is fresh and powerful.

This piece says to me, “Freedom in the Spirit.” I love the color, the movement, the joy, the flow, the overshadowing companionship.

This reminds me of what my friend Jenny Gehman said the Spirit told her about her word for the year, SOAR. The Spirit said to her, “SOAR- Sweetheart, Open And Rise.”

grit and virtue kimberly mead freedomThen this quote from Kimberly Mead via the great folks at Grit and Virtue. In freedom there is rest. Slaves don’t rest. Sabbath rest, Soul rest, is the fruit of freedom.

So here I am, praying for eyes to see and ears to hear as the Spirit continues to reveal what this means for me. What might all this mean for you, dear one? – Lisa <><

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When the Spirit Chases You With a Message You Need to Hear
© 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
(by Lisa Degrenia, revlisad.com)
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

There’s More to Life Martha, Mary, Lazarus (John 11)

Jesus Palm Sunday Benedictine Sisters Turvey Abbey

Jesus Enters Jerusalem by The Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey

Sermon Series:
There’s More to Life
Message 4 of 5:
Martha, Mary, Lazarus

Scripture: John 11:17-44
Notes from a message offered Palm Sunday, 4/14/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Palm Sunday

  • The crowd comes up from Bethany to the top of the Mount of Olives. Jesus can see the whole city: Gethsemane, the Temple, Caiaphas’ house where he will be imprisoned and beaten, Golgotha where he will die
  • Jesus’ entering Jerusalem- crowd crying out Hosanna, waving palm branches, laying cloaks in the street, Jesus riding a donkey like King Solomon when he entered Jerusalem, great excitement. No one will mistake the message Jesus is riding into town like a king.
  • What does Jesus do? Jesus weeps.

Matthew 23:37
Jesus said, “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!”

Jesus wept is the shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus weeps many times.

  • Wept over Jerusalem on Palm Sunday
  • Wept in the olive grove of Gethsemane as he was being crushed and pressed in prayer the night of his arrest
  • Wept with his dear friends Martha and Mary over the death of their brother Lazarus
    • Lazarus- the one Jesus loved, possibly the beloved disciple Jesus entrusted his mother to at his death
    • Their home was Jesus’ safe place, a home away from home

Washington Irving said, “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness but of power. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and of unspeakable love.”

What if we looked at our tears as our love overflowing. My cup overflows…

Henri Nouwen said in Behold the Beauty of the Lord
The One who sees unceasingly the limitless goodness of God came to the world, saw it broken to pieces by human sin and was moved to compassion. The same eyes which see into the heart of God saw the suffering hearts of God’s people and wept.

  • Our situations trouble Jesus’ spirit down to the deepest parts of his soul
  • Our pain summons his tears
  • Jesus understands our pain- responds with empathy and compassion and understanding
  • Jesus weeps for us and with us
    • There is no shame in our tears. No weakness. It reveals the depth of our love.
    • No need to apologize. No need to hide. In Jesus, there is dignity and validity to our grieving and tears.
    • I’m honored you would count me safe enough to cry before me. And I’m honored you would receive my tears in return.
Jesus wept James Tissot

Jesus Wept by James Tissot

Reading of John 11:17-27

Jesus has profound conversations with people in the Gospel of John. With Nicodemus in the middle of the night, with the woman at the well, with the man by the pool, and now with Martha. Matha starts preaching- You are the Messiah!

Martha is busy, busy, busy. But she’s not too busy right now. She gets it.

Martha reveals a faithful path of grief

  • Go to Jesus- don’t avoid God
  • Be honest- honest with feelings, questions, accusations
  • Listen
    • Jesus will remind you of God’s promises
    • Jesus will reveal who he is

Read John 11:28-44

Lazarus is swaddled like a babe. They would wrap the babies and they would wrap the dead. He is in that womb of a tomb and Jesus calls him out and says, “unbind him.” Set him free.

Hosanna! Save now!
Hosanna! Set us free!
This is the glory of our God.
Why we worship and why we place our trust in Jesus.
Why we give our lives to Jesus.
He is fully divine- I am the Resurrection and I am the Life
He is fully human- weeping and mourning with us and for us

Jesus is the One who saves
Unbind her!
Unbind him!
This is our God!
Do you believe?

This is the week where we put a mile marker in the road and say, “I believe!” I’m going to come and hear the story again. I’m going to come and worship. I’m going to be with my Jesus who knows me and loves me and saves me.

This is what we do. This is who we are. Anyone can say, “I believe.” They are part of the kingdom, and the power, and glory. Forever. Amen.

For more on the unbinding of Lazarus and us, read Unbind Me by Steve Garnaas Holmes

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Martha, Mary, Lazarus © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

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.