A Prayer for Those Who Govern, incorporating verses of America the Beautiful

mlk prayer pilgrimage

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the 1957 ‘Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom’.

A Prayer for Those Who Govern
ALL SINGING: America the Beautiful
United Methodist Hymnal #969, first verse

O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!

ONE:
Lord of All,
As we draw near another Independence Day,
we confess our dependence on you.
Thank you for extending abundance, mercy, and protection
to our nation through the years.
Every resource, freedom, and opportunity we have is a good gift from you.
Without you, we are lost.

ALL:
In humility, we seek your face.
In repentance, we turn from our ungrateful, destructive and selfish ways.
In faith, we call on your power to forgive our sin and heal our land.

ALL SINGING: America the Beautiful
United Methodist Hymnal #969, second verse

O beautiful for heroes prov’d in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country lov’d, and mercy more than life.
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness and ev’ry gain divine.

ONE:
Pour out your Holy Spirit on those who govern our land,
Leaders of our nation, our state, and our community
and all who are running for office.

Grant them a love of justice.
Open their minds with wisdom and compassion,
so all people may be treated fairly and with dignity.

Open their ears to the cries of the desperate and powerless
so cycles of poverty, disease, and abuse may be broken.

Open their eyes to see how best to respond
and open their hearts with courage to do the right thing,
even when pressured to do otherwise.

Dawn a new day of integrity and servant leadership upon our land.
Shower down your Spirit of collaboration for the common good
that there may be lasting peace and plenty for all.

The congregation is invited to lift up their own prayers for our nation

ONE:
We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Leader and Savior forever, Amen.

Option: We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Leader and Savior forever, who taught us to pray, Our Father, who art in heaven….

ALL SINGING: America the Beautiful
United Methodist Hymnal #969, fourth verse

O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God mend thine every flaw,
confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.

***************
For other prayers suitable for Independence Day try A Prayer for our Country or Independence Day Prayer or A prayer of examen for our national holiday, all by Steve Garnaas-Holmes.

America the Beautiful by Katherine Lee Bates and Samuel A. Ward.
Public Domain.

A Prayer for Those Who Govern © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Leave a comment for posting and publication considerations.

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.

*******
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.