Take a Stand, inspired by Jeremiah 1.17-19

stand up speak out

Extended quote from Ragamuffin Reflections by Brennan Manning
The prophet Jeremiah is a striking example of the Biblical paradox that surrender means victory, that in losing our life we find it. (Jesus Christ identifies with Jeremiah more than any other prophet and quotes him most frequently.) In the year 625 BC, the Lord summoned Jeremiah to a prophetic career. Jeremiah’s immediate response was reluctance. “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” he said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young” (Jeremiah 1:6). He was nineteen at the time. Jeremiah was not the confident, self-assured type like Amos or Isaiah. Sensitive, accustomed to the quiet of small-town life, he was temperamentally unsuited for public life and the harsh treatment that is the customary “reward of the prophets.”

Timid and afraid, Jeremiah had no ambition for such a mission. In no way did he want to preach God’s Word to his fellow Israelites. Nothing pleased him more than to be Mr. Nobody, ignored by the ruling clique of royal counselors and priests. How content he would have been to live in the tiny world of his own heart. And so he remonstrated with God, “Ah, Lord God. I am only a boy.” Each of us can sympathize, because Jeremiah is Everyman and Everywoman.

Take a Stand, a devotion inspired by Jeremiah 1:17-19 (NIV)
The words from scripture are found in regular type.

Get yourself ready!
There are things God leaves up to you
Your part of the preparation
Prayer and study and silence
Clearing out the crap so there’s space for what is coming

Stand up and say to them whatever I command you.
Rise now from the green pasture
From the still waters of comfort and slumber
Preparation leads to action
Sanctuary to Taking a Stand

Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.
God alone is God
They do not deserve your reverence
Your awe
They are human
Dust and ashes, just like you

Today I have made you a fortified city,
an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land –
against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.
The call is beyond you
So God makes you more than you
Steadfast
Enduring
Rock and Refuge
Living Stone
Rejected in the Redeeming
Like your Christ
Your Jesus

They will fight
But the battle is the Lord’s

They will fight against you but will not overcome you,
for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.

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On this same theme, consider also reading The Stream of Justice, a stirring encouragement to continue our efforts for peace, freedom, and justice. Written by Steve Garnaas Holmes for Martin Luther King remembrances and similar occasions.

Take a Stand © 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.

Stand Up Speak Out graphic by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Deliverer of the Afflicted (Psalm 72, Luke 4)

Jesus, The Coming MessiahJesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 10: The Messiah as Deliverer of the Afflicted
Readings: Psalm 72; Luke 4:17-19

Psalm 72:12-14, The Voice
For he will rescue the needy when they ask for help!
He will save the burdened and come to the aid of those who have no other help.
He offers compassion to the weak and the poor;
He will help and protect the lives of the needy!
He will liberate them from the fierce sting of persecution and violence;
in his eyes, their blood is precious.

Luke 4:17-19, The Voice
The synagogue attendant gave Him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and Jesus unrolled it to the place where Isaiah had written these words:

The Spirit of the Lord the Eternal One is on Me.
Why? Because the Eternal designated Me
to be His representative to the poor, to preach good news to them.
He sent Me to tell those who are held captive that they can now be set free,
and to tell the blind that they can now see.
He sent Me to liberate those held down by oppression.
In short, the Spirit is upon Me to proclaim that now is the time;
this is the jubilee season of the Eternal One’s grace

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
Defender of the weak and poor
You provide, you protect, you liberate

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Our Compassionate King
You offer your own body and blood
For all life, every life, is precious

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Bringer of Change and Justice
Finish your good and generous work

Have mercy, Lord of Hope
Draw near
Make us new

Release us from
the chains of this moment, born of imprisoned years
the blindness to our complicity, frailty, and poverty
the distractions and false calls of those who cannot help
the apathy keeping us from seeing, speaking, and caring
the weight of our needs stealing our courage to try
the slowness of change chipping away at our enduring

Have mercy, Lord of Hope
Draw near
Make us new

Chorus of Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath
Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me you heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see

Quote from The Talmud
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

**********

Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible Reading Plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered? I look forward to your comments.

If you’re in Sarasota, please drop by Trinity United Methodist Church for one of our seasonal events or services or just to say, “Hi.” You’re always welcome and wanted.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <

The Messiah as Deliverer of the Afflicted © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Prophet Like Moses (Deuteronomy 18, Hebrews 3)

Jesus, The Coming Messiah
Jesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 5: The Messiah as Prophet Like Moses
Readings: Deuteronomy 18:14-22; Hebrews 3:1-6

Deuteronomy 18:14-18, The Voice
Moses: The nations you’re going to displace seek guidance from people who practice divination and predicting. But the Eternal your God doesn’t want you to do that. He will raise up from among your own people a prophet who will be like me. Listen to him. This is just what you asked Him for on the day you gathered at Mount Horeb: “Don’t make me listen to the voice of the Eternal my God anymore! And don’t make me look at that blazing fire! I’ll die!” The Eternal told me, “They’re right. I’ll send them another prophet like you from among their own people. I’ll put My words in the mouth of this prophet who will tell them everything I command him to say.

Hebrews 3:1-6, The Voice
So all of you who are holy partners in a heavenly calling, let’s turn our attention to Jesus, the Emissary of God and High Priest, who brought us the faith we profess; and compare Him to Moses, who also brought words from God. Both of them were faithful to their missions, to the One who called them. But we value Jesus more than Moses, in the same way that we value a builder more than the house he builds. Every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Moses brought healing and redemption to his people as a faithful servant in God’s house, and he was a witness to the things that would be spoken later. But Jesus the Anointed was faithful as a Son of that house. (We become that house, if we’re able to hold on to the confident hope we have in God until the end.)

Excerpt from an impressive article entitled 21 Proofs that Yeshua is “The Prophet Like Moses” by One for Israel, Messianic Jews in Israel. Messianic Jews have accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah and refer to him as Yeshua, the Hebrew version of his name.

  1. First off, He’s definitely from “among the brothers” of Israel, so that’s a good start. The Prophet must be Jewish, and Jesus’ heritage was from the tribe of Judah.
  2. Both were shepherds – Yeshua said, “I am the good shepherd”, and Moses also tended sheep – figuratively and literally.
  3. Both were sent to bring salvation after 400 years of apparent inactivity from God – the Israelites had been enslaved for 400 years in Egypt, and the 400 years before Yeshua came had been notably silent years from God.
  4. Both fasted for 40 days and nights – Moses while on Mount Sinai, and Yeshua in the Judean desert, when being tempted by Satan
  5. Both spent time in Egypt as children (as Yeshua had to be hidden there for a while as a baby to escape Herod)
  6. Both were born at a time when evil kings pronounced death to all Jewish baby boys in the area – Pharaoh had commanded all Hebrew baby boys to be drowned at birth, and Herod had issued a command to kill all baby boys under the age of two. Both were miraculously rescued from that threat
  7. Both were called by God to lead and save
  8. Both did miracles to testify to their God-given authority
  9. Both instituted a covenant of blood that brought salvation for many – Moses with the Passover lamb’s blood on the doorposts, Yeshua, Lamb of God, brought in the new covenant in his blood on the beams of the cross
  10. Both were given God’s public stamp of approval with an audible voice from heaven, heard by the crowd – Moses at Sinai, and Yeshua at his baptism
  11. Both gave up great riches to lead a humble life of service and poverty – Moses from the palace of the King of Egypt, Yeshua from the heights of heaven. Both were noted for their great humility (Numbers 12:3, Hebrews 11:26-27, Philippians 2)
  12. Both were initially rejected by the Jews when the foretold salvation didn’t seem as if it was going to happen. When Moses first challenged Pharaoh, things got a lot worse for the Israelites, leading to despair and anger. Yeshua’s crucifixion looked like a hopeless defeat. Both salvation situations initially looked like the promises were not going to come true. But they did.
  13. Both were criticized by their own families – Mary and Yeshua’s brothers in Mark 3:20-21, and Moses’ sister and brother in Numbers 12:1.
  14. Both were willing to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of those they were leading, and to pay for the sins of their people – Moses in Exodus 32, and Yeshua’s own readiness to die on our behalf is evident in the Garden of Gethsemene
  15. Both miraculously provided the people with bread to eat – manna was sent from heaven for the Israelites and Yeshua famously fed the multitudes. Twice.
  16. Both were accepted by Gentiles – Moses’ father in law, a Midianite, instantly believed (Exodus 18:10-11) The Egyptians too came to believe that the God of Israel was real and true. And the non-Jews readily accepted Yeshua’s message of salvation.
  17. Under Moses, all those who believed him, those who followed the instructions and put the sacrificial blood on their doors, were saved from death. This means that all those who left Egypt had taken a step of faith and been saved. They were no longer just Hebrews ethnically, they had become a faith community. Similarly, under Yeshua, all those who appropriate his sacrificial blood, shed for us to save us from the power of death have entered into the faith community of those who follow Him.
  18. Seven weeks (50 days) after the Exodus, the Israelites waited upon God to receive the Torah – now that they had been saved, how then should they live? God gave Moses His covenant and instructions on how to live as a faith community. Seven weeks (50 days) after the resurrection, the disciples waited as Yeshua instructed them to receive the Holy Spirit, and the church was born – a new faith community, and a new way to live as believers.
  19. Both of their faces shone with the glory of heaven, as was noted by people who saw them – Moses had to wear a veil over his face because it was beaming so much, and Yeshua’s disciples saw His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration.
  20. Moses chose 12 spies to explore Canaan, and Yeshua chose 12 disciples. Moses appointed 70 rulers over Israel, and Yeshua sent 70 disciples out to share the gospel.
  21. Moses led the people out from slavery into the wilderness. 40 years of wandering, hardship, and a lot of lessons learned the hard way – but all with God’s help and presence. The promised land would come only later. Yeshua has redeemed us into  life with Him, still on this fallen earth. A limited time not without pain and struggle, and many lessons learned the hard way – but all with God’s help and presence. The life we were created for with no sickness, pain or death is yet to come.

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
Who brings from on high God’s will and way of life

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Who feeds us with the Bread of Heaven, his very body

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Who leads us through the wilderness to God’s eternal promised land

Fill us with your Holy Spirit,
as you have your faithful through the ages
Fill us with vision to see the goodness and glory to come
Fill us with truth to speak and the courage to do so
Fill us with resolve to follow the emancipated way of our Jesus:
Forgiveness for all
Deliverance from all
Solidarity with all
Integrity above all
Amen

**********

Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible Reading Plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered? I look forward to your comments.

If you’re in Sarasota, please drop by Trinity United Methodist Church for one of our seasonal events or services or just to say, “Hi.” You’re always welcome and wanted.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <><

The Messiah as Prophet Like Moses © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Take Up The Cross, a prayer based on Matthew 16.24-28

take-up-your-cross-0022Based on Matthew 16:24-28

Merciful Jesus, give me the courage to deny privilege
To lay down favor and safety
in order to take up the cross of opportunity and justice

Merciful Jesus, give me the courage to deny consumerism
To lay down convenience and gratification
in order to take up the cross of sustainability and generosity

Merciful Jesus, give me the courage to deny prejudice
To lay down apathy and segregation
in order to take up the cross of diversity and true love

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me
Show me what to pick up and what to lay down
that I may lose and loose
in order to find and bind
all that is of you
that I may bear all that leads to life
and give me the courage to help others do the same
Amen

*****
Take Up the Cross © 2017 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.

The Gifts of Manna (Exodus 16)

mannaRe-posting two wonderful reflections by Steve Garnaas Holmes based on Exodus 16. In the first he compares God’s provision of manna in the wilderness to those escaping slavery to the steadfast provision of what we need to get through our own wilderness. The second is an important reminder of the dangers of greed. Consider subscribing to his blog, Unfolding Light. – Lisa <><

Exodus 16:13-15
In the morning there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that God has given you to eat.“

What gets you through the desert?
What gets you through?
What gets you through the chemo,
the healing from abuse, the bad marriage,
what gets you through
the job that tries to kill you,
the dark alley of the shadow of death,
the rotten places, the placeless places,
the evil you fear, the evil you’ve done,
your daily inadequacy,
what gets you through?

Some will call it courage or stamina,
luck or faith or reaching down deep.
But you know it’s not you, not yours.
It’s given. To you. For you.
From the Holy One.

The thread you follow,
the source you drink from,
the encouraging voice,
the Divine desire that you thrive,
the gift amid the desolation,
you find it anywhere—
the usual, the impossible,
the unwelcome.
You learn to recognize it.
You learn to receive it.

For that grace that gets you through
you learn to say thank you.

You learn to count on it,
and be surprised,
every morning.
Every morning.

Exodus 16:18-21
Those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed. Some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul. Morning by morning they gathered it,
as much as each needed; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.

God’s vision of justice
is that everyone has what they need.

Manna in the wilderness,
the widow’s jar of meal,
laborers in the vineyard,
feeding the five thousand,
God’s forgiveness upon each heart:
each is given what they need.

It is gift,
that you can’t earn or possess.

Your excess rots in your hands.
What you have beyond your need
you have taken from your neighbor.
It poisons you.

Starve your greed
and feed on justice.
Until all have what they need
even God is hungry.

Answer Us, a prayer based on Mark 9:14-29

mark-9-help-unbelief

Prayer based on Mark 9:14-29, Jesus healing a boy possessed by a destructive spirit

Answer us, Great God of Justice,
Lord of Hope
Bringer of Change and New Life
Have mercy
Draw near
Finish your good and generous work

Release us from
the chains of this moment, born of imprisoned years
the distractions and false calls of those who cannot help
the apathy keeping us from seeing, speaking, and caring
the smallness of your Kingdom stealing our courage to try
the slowness of your Kingdom chipping away at our enduring

We believe, help our unbelief
Raise us from our comas to stand with you
Release our petified voices
Deliver us of our demons

You have made us new
You are making us new
You are making all things new

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Answer us, a prayer based on Mark 9:14-29 © 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.

Prayer- All Lives Matter

2016 summer violence collageThis prayer was offered 7/10/16 during worship at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida in response to a month of overwhelming injustice and violence. 

The vows we make at our baptism, and the vows we renew when we make public commitments to Christ, seem especially poignant given the events of this past week. I remind you of them.

I renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil power of this world, and repent of my sin.

I accept the freedom and power God gives me to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.

I confess Jesus Christ as my Savior, put my whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as my Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races.

According to the grace given to me, I will remain a faithful member of Christ’s holy church and serve as Christ’s representative in the world.

This week will mark the 1 month anniversary of the Pulse Orlando Massacre. 49 killed, 53 injured. Most young, Latino/Latina, and most from the gay community.

Two weeks after the massacre, Tuesday June 28, a terrorist attack consisting of shootings and suicide bombings occurred at the international terminal of the Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey. More than 230 people were injured. 45 people were killed in addition to the 3 attackers. The victims were from 11 different countries.

A few days later, last Sunday July 3, at least 298 people were killed and over 246 were injured after a large car bomb explosion in the middle of a busy market in Baghdad. The blast occurred in the Karrada area, the home to many Shia Muslims and a large Christian minority. The attack was part of series of Isis attacks during the holy month of Ramadan.

Two days later, Tuesday July 5, Alton Sterling was fatally shot by police outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was a 37 year old black man. The officers were each 28 year old white men.

A day later, Wednesday July 6, Philando Castile was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop. He was a 32 year old black man. The officer is white.

A day later, Thursday July 7, two black snipers ambushed and opened fire at the end of a peaceful protest in Dallas. 7 officers and two civilians are injured. 5 white officers are dead- Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa, Brent Thompson.

Genesis 1:27
God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Lord Jesus, help us accept your gift of life
All lives matter
All lives matter because all are made in your image
All lives matter and should be protected and respected
for their worth and dignity are from you
All lives matter and should come home safely to their loved ones
It’s not us and them, it’s just us

Lord Jesus, help us live your gift of love
All lives matter
Yet some are targeted with prejudice and violence
because of the color of their skin
the zip code of their home
their sexuality
what they do for a living

So we speak and pray specifics
Black lives matter
Muslim lives matter
Foreign lives matter
Christian lives matter
Law enforcement lives matter
Latino/Latina lives matter
LGBTQIA lives matter
The Poor, their lives matter
The Young, their lives matter
All lives matter

Break our hearts Jesus that we may weep as you weep
Break our hearts Jesus that we may love as you love
Break our hearts Jesus and raise our voices
that we may speak and act so all may be safe
so all may have opportunity
so all may know belonging

Lord Jesus, take away our fear, our apathy, our silence
Grant us your courage
Grant us your strength
Grant us your perseverance
That we may be your sanctuary, your safe place
That we may live your justice
That we may use your power with wisdom and humility
That we may be your whole and holy people
A people of integrity
That we may speak and act and love again and again and again
Till every dividing wall of hate, fear and mistrust
comes crashing down in your Powerful Name

Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace
Fill us with your hope
Fill us with your salt
Fill us with your light

Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace
Teach us to pray and teach us to live your prayer
Conclude with the Lord’s Prayer

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Prayer- All Lives Matter © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

It would be easy to modify this prayer so different parts could be led by different worship leaders.