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.

Soft and Steadfast, a prayer based on Hebrews 3 and James 1

soft-heart-cruel-world-2

Based on Hebrews 3:7-14, The Voice Translation and James 1:19-25, NRSV

Merciful One, soften my heart

Save me from hardheartedness
From evil and deceit
From mutiny and unbelief

Turn and return me
From wandering away
From petrifying slowly

Make my heart pure
Open to you
Wanting what you want

Make my heart true
Confident in you and your Word
Hearing and Doing

Make my heart noble
Quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger
Rejoicing in your direction

Jesus
Heart of my heart
Keep me soft and steadfast in your nail scarred hands

Extended quote by John R. Wimmer, Blessed Endurance
The words joy rejoice as they appear in James and First Peter do not mean what they seem at first glance. The rejoicing we find here is not a shallow, syrupy, or optimistic refusal to admit that problems exist; instead, it is the realistic recognition of struggle bolstered by the decision to rejoice in knowing that God is working to bring us through strife to greater spiritual depth. Yes, it may be tough if not impossible to rejoice when suffering, but such joy will not take the form of emotional jubilance or elation.

James proclaims that suffering may be considered as joy when the encounter produces the spiritual virtue of steadfastness. And steadfastness, when allowed to flower into fullness, produces the most attractive bloom of all qualities: Christian maturity.

Authentic Christian maturity, then, is a steadfastness that we attain not by denial. It is a quality that, like any other kind of maturity, accrues with age, hard work, and a lot of bruising experience. It is the ability to redirect our thoughts beyond immediate woes in order to realize the spiritual growth that results from tests of faith.

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Prayer: Soft and Steadfast © 2017, updated 2021 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a message for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

A prayer for moving (Genesis 12)

Snoopy-movingOur family will be moving later this month. June and July are often months of moving, especially for United Methodist pastors who are appointed to new congregations. I’ve been appointed to New Smyrna Beach and the good folks at Coronado Community UMC. This prayer is for all who find themselves heading to new places. It’s based on Genesis 12:1-9.

The Lord God calls Abram (and Sarai)
Pack your things
Move your family
Travel far, to a place yet to be known

He/She/They obey
They leave all that’s established.
It is difficult. It is no small thing.

He/She/They trust
They keep listening
They keep praising the Lord God
as they move farther and farther into the unfamiliar

Help me to trust you as well
You do not call and abandon
You are ahead of us on the journey
You are the journey- the way, the truth, the life

You guide and guard
You encourage and reassure and show signs
You and your way brings blessing for me
for my family
for the world

Deepen my trust
that I may be faithful in all things
and a blessing for the generations
Amen

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A Prayer for Moving © 2017, updated 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.

Make Your Way, a prayer based on Luke 3

summer in the scriptures luke (1)

Make Your Way, based on Luke 3:1-14
John the Baptist, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord…” – Luke 3:4

How do we prepare the way in this time and place?

I’ve witnessed the modern-day prophets
Dipping your two-edged sword in fear and hate
Divining pure from sin, saved from heretic
Confident in their judgments

There are others, too, who take a different path
Coating your sword with sugar and stories
Tickling our ears with prosperity and self-help

We’ve come so far from Brother John
Your blade in hand
Sharp yet washed in the wilderness of prayer
Dripping with Good News
The antidote for our stealthy, venomous existence

“Sever your selfishness so generosity may grow
Cut out the cheating so honesty may flourish
Amputate all falsehoods and threats
That your power may raise the powerless”

This is Your Way
Repentance
Integrity
Compassion
Solidarity

Make your way in us, O God
Make your way in us

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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 <

Make Your Way © 2013 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.

Sermon- The Palm Sunday Path

Jesus Palm Sunday Benedictine Sisters Turvey AbbeyThe Palm Sunday Path
Scripture: Mark 11:1-10
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 4/5/2020 via Facebook Live for Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of me leading worship in our empty sanctuary, including the message which starts around the 19-minute mark.

Mark 11:1-10, NRSV
1 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 

4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They told them what Jesus had said, and they allowed them to take it. 

7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Imagine two mountains with a valley between them. One is the Mount of Olives. Jesus and his followers start on the far side near the villages of Bethphage and Bethany. They make their way up to the top of the Mount of Olives and what does Jesus see?

He looks down the slope and sees the olive grove and olive press of Gethsemane

He looks up the other mountain, the top’s been cut off in order to build the 35 acre Temple complex. On the left, he sees the teaching steps where he probably questioned the rabbis when he was 12. The steps where he now teaches when he comes to the Temple.

On the right, Jesus sees the Antonio Fortress where the Roman soldiers are garrisoned.

There between them, gleaming white and gold in the sun, the Temple of the One True Living God. Jesus can see the flames from the sacrifices, smell the char of the meat and perfumed prayers.

At the top of the Mount of Olives, Jesus can see all of Jerusalem before him. Jesus can see thousands of people making their way to market, work, worship, and home. And Jesus can see where they do the crucifixions. He can see his future on the cross.

What does Jesus do? Jesus continues on the path.

Jesus could have chosen an easier path, the path of Comfort
A quiet life, a tiny life in tiny Nazareth. Carpentry is honorable work. He’s been doing it for a couple of decades and he could continue. Morning prayer walks on the rolling hills of Galilee stopping to overlook the beautiful Sea of Galilee. Sweet sabbaths in the synagogue. Jesus could have chosen home and family, privacy, simplicity, comfort.

Jesus could have chosen a different path, the path of Control
He could have called down the armies of heaven to overthrow the Romans, and the evil one. He could have placed himself on David’s earthly throne and made every wrong right. He could have raised his hand and said “peace, be still” to the whole world.

Jesus could have chosen an easier path or a different path. He could have saved himself instead of saving the world… but he didn’t.

Jesus didn’t choose comfort and he didn’t choose control.
Jesus chose courage. He chose the courageous path of God.

Jesus hears the people around him as they’re making their way down the path. Ordinary people, simple people, excited and hopeful to announce him to Jerusalem.

“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Hosanna does not mean Hooray! It means Help!
Hosanna means Save Now!

The men, women, children walking with Jesus waving their branches weren’t thinking, “Save us from slavery to sin and death and shame.” They were thinking closer to home.

Save us from the Romans
Save us from the corruption of the Temple
Save us from hunger and thirst

Maybe you’re thinking closer to home, too.

If you were to cry Hosanna today, Save Now today, what would you want?
I would want Jesus to save us from the pandemic
Save us from the disease and the dis-ease
Save us from the cruelty of isolation
Save us from the slavery of financial ruin
Save us from the oppression of unknowing
Save us, Jesus, save now!
These are good prayers!

I want Jesus the King
Jesus the Healer
Jesus the Fixer, just like they did
Hosanna! Save Now!

That’s what Jesus chose to do- to save
Jesus looked at the great need all around him and chose the long game, the big picture, the one thing only he could do no one else.

Jesus chose the hard, courageous path for the greater need, the greatest need. He chose to save the world.

Jesus chose the path of injustice, betrayal, denial, abandonment. Jesus chose the path of mocking, whips, thorns, nails. Jesus chose the courageous path of crucifixion and death so he could open to us the path of victory and eternal life.

Hosanna doesn’t mean Hooray! It means Save Now!
Salvation doesn’t mean fixed. Salvation means wholeness.
Lord knows that’s what we need right now.

We need it for ourselves
We need it for our families
We need it for our economy
For Christ’s church
For our healthcare system
For our world

Lord, we need your salvation. We need your wholeness and we need it now. In our sickness, our suffering, our lamenting, our loss. And that’s what you give us now.

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 your wholeness real in us
And real in all. Amen.

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The Palm Sunday Path © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.