The Songs of Christmas: Hail to the Lord’s Anointed (Isaiah 42; Jeremiah 23; Psalm 72; Luke 4)

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
December 1: Hail to the Lord’s Anointed by James Montgomery (1771-1854)
Scripture References: Isaiah 42:16; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Psalm 72:1-7; Luke 4:16-19
Theme: Showers of Blessing

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed by James Montgomery
Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, Great David’s greater Son!
Hail in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, To set the captive free;
To take away transgression, and rule in equity.

He comes with succor speedy to those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy, and bid the weak be strong;
To give them songs for sighing, their darkness turn to light,
Whose souls, condemned and dying, are precious in his sight.

He shall come down like showers upon the fruitful earth;
Love, joy, and hope, like flowers, spring in his path to birth.
Before him on the mountains, shall peace, the herald, go,
And righteousness, in fountains, from hill to valley flow.

To him shall prayer unceasing and daily vows ascend;
His kingdom still increasing, a kingdom without end.
The tide of time shall never His covenant remove;
His name shall stand forever; that name to us is love.

Prayer:
Reign and Rain down, Glorious One
Salvation flows from your coming
Living water to our desert
to our frail clay
to our dust

Creation flows from you
New life springing up
Hope and wholeness
Budding and blooming in our wasteland

Let all the earth drink of you
The fullness of your unfailing love
Flood us and fill us
That we may carry this great grace as it carries us

Additional Resources:

Isaiah 42:16
I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them.

Jeremiah 23:5-6
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Psalm 72:1-7
Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness. May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound until the moon is no more.

Luke 4:16-19
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Excerpt from History of Hymns: “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” by C. Michael Hawn
Montgomery began writing poetry at age 10, inspired by the hymn of the Moravians, the same group that inspired John Wesley. Despite flunking out of school at age 14, Montgomery found a job in 1792 at a radical weekly newspaper, the Sheffield Register. He assumed the leadership of the paper not long after when the previous editor fled the country fearing persecution for his politics.

At this point, Montgomery changed the name of the paper to the Iris and served for 31 years as editor, during which he was a tireless supporter of social justice. He was jailed twice for his radical views, using the time in prison to write poetry.

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CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.

The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.

Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is the big idea?
    • Why is it important?
    • How does this truth connect with my life?
  • Have a conversation with God about this truth.
  • Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.

Additional Ideas:

  • Journal your reflections
  • Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
  • Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
  • Sing or listen to the song
  • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <

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Noel reflections © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: Come to the Feast, based on Isaiah 55.1-2

bread wine wood table

Growing in Resilience
Day 16, Read Isaiah 55
Reflection: Come to the Feast, based on Isaiah 55:1-2, NRSV

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

In the midst of all you are facing
Come to the One who overflows
To Living Water
Thirst no more

Come to Jesus
The One who is Wine
The Vine Eternal
Who was cut off, crushed, and poured out
For your forgiveness and deliverance
May you be rooted in Him
And gladdened in His presence
For His joy is our strength

Come
Rest against our Beloved’s breast
Nurtured and nourished
On the milk of love and kindness

Come
The bill is paid
Eat and be satisfied
With the very Bread of Heaven

Listen…
Listen……
Grace is calling
Come, the feast awaits

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Come to the Feast © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: You Answer, based on Isaiah 41.17-18

lightning tree by Marilyn

Lightning Tree by Marilyn Bouchard

Growing in Resilience
Day 2, Read Isaiah 41
Reflection: You Answer, based on Isaiah 41:17-18

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them. I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.

We are dry
Brittle
Crusty
Empty

Parched with a thirst we cannot appease
Tongues heavy and stuck
No words escaping
We are too poor
Too desolate

You alone answer our silent screams
You, the Lord God

You fill and flood and quench
A wild river on the barren peaks
An ancient fountain in the deep wasteland
A still pool for resting and rooting
A spring of water gushing up to eternal life

You, answer
You, the Lord God, will never forsake

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

You Answer © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon Recording- I Thirst

crucifixion pierce flow thirst Sermon Series: Final Words from the Cross
The Scriptures record Jesus speaking 7 phrases as he hung upon the cross- important and powerful final reminders of who he was and what it means to follow him.

Message: I Thirst
Scripture: John 19:28-29
Offered 3/20/16, Palm Sunday, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Click Here for a blog post with my poem I Thirst, which is referenced throughout this message.

I Thirst
Holy Jesus, our Lord and our God, is thirsty as he hangs on the cross.
This is not an everyday dryness that is easily satisfied by turning a faucet,
This is a deep, deadly thirst few of us have known.
A burning, raging thirst of exposure and dehydration

By this time in His torture, Jesus’ body is a festival of pain

  • Cramps sweep through his muscles, knotting them, and yet he must use them to lift himself to breath
  • His back, bloody and open down to the bone from the scourging, scrapes against the craggy tree every time he moves
  • The lacerated veins and crushed tendons of his wrists and ankles throb with incessant anguish
  • There’s a deep, crushing pain in the depths of his chest (it’s his pericardium slowly filling with fluid). As the heaviness closes in, his heart struggles to pump what little is left of his thick, sluggish blood.

Each variety of misery goes on and on and on, increasing with every moment that passes – hour after hour and he’s nearing hour 6.

How does he choose to describe this?
How does he describe the reality of his pain and passion?
He says– I Thirst

He could have quoted Psalm 22 again, the one that begins, “My God My God why have you forsaken me…”
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws
You lay me in the dust of death.

But that is too much.
All his swollen tongue can say is… I thirst

Yes, Jesus is physically thirsty, but it’s more than that.
To thirst is also to long for something that is essential.

It’s this thirst, this longing that is consuming him
Is he longing for revenge?
Longing for companionship?
Is he longing to come down from the cross? No
It’s his longing that’s keeping him on the cross, in the place of pain and sacrifice

What are you thirsty for? You ever had a thirst that kept you somewhere painful?
A longing that consumes you?
Stuck in the past because you long for the good old days
Unable to put down roots because you long for a more perfect place
Never enjoying the moment because you’re longing
to finish the project  – finish school – finish the treatment – finish looking for true love

To thirst is to long for something that is essential.
Is what you are thirsting for essential?
If you get it, will it satisfy you?
Or like cool water on a hot day will it meet the need only for your to need more soon

Consider Gollum in Lord of the Rings. He stays in the place of pain thirsting, longing for the ring. But it never satisfies.
Our longings can become distorted, even destructive
We can long for things that do not matter do not last
Our longings can steal our time, our attention, our money, our relationships, our life
At their worst, they get twisted into compulsions or even addictions

Jesus says, “I thirst.” But because it’s Jesus we know it is a perfect, holy longing.
(longing can be good, beautiful, and worthy of the place of pain)

What is so essential to Jesus that he’s allowing it to consume him?
He’s longing for righteousness (fancy church word alert)
that crossed-shaped, right relationship with God, others, yourself, your stuff, the earth.

I thirst
I thirst for you – because you cannot drink the bitter cup I must drink
I thirst for you – because I desire that none should be lost
I thirst for you – so that you may drink of me, the living water

Jesus, the Living Water, flows because he drank the cup and is now being poured out

Only a few hours before, Jesus gathers his closest followers for a meal, he raises a cup and says, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

Only a few hours before, as Jesus was being arrested, Peter drew his sword; but Jesus told him, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Jesus drinks the cup and pours himself out on the cross … I thirst, I thirst for you

Jesus’ thirsting, his essential consuming longing, is for righteousness and that we would drink deeply of it- so that he would become in you, me, and all who believe a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.

Only a short time before, Jesus talks with a man seeking answers in the night
Be born again of water and the Spirit

Only a short time before, Jesus talks with an downcast woman at a public well
Drink the water I give you and never thirst again

Only a short time before, Jesus cries out in the midst of a festival
Let anyone who is thirsty come to me
Let the one who believes in me drink
Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water

Holy Jesus, our Lord and our God, is thirsty as he hangs on the cross.
Not the everyday dryness that is easily satisfied by turning a faucet,
but the deep, vital thirst all of us may now know because of his saving work
The cleansing, satisfying thirst for righteousness
Take the cup- drink deeply

2 Corinthians 5:21
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Psalm 63:1         
O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Psalm 42:1-2 NIV             
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Matthew 5:6 NIV            
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Resources for this sermon
Final Words From the Cross by Adam Hamilton
Listening at Golgotha by Peter Storey
Dryness and Darkness, Thirst and Desire: Why Lent Matters a sermon by Bishop Ken Carter based on Psalm 63

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I Thirst © 2001 Lisa 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.

I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

© 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Worship Resource: Love is Here

Worship Resource: Love is Here
Instrumental music begins and continues underneath the readings and the singing.

ONE SPEAKING: Isaiah 55:1-3a NIV
The Lord God says, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.”

ALL SINGING
Love is Here (CCLI Song # 5325139)
Made popular by Tenth Avenue North
Verse 1 and Chorus

ONE SPEAKING: John 7:37-38 NRSV
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ ”

ALL SINGING
Love is Here (CCLI Song # 5325139)
Made popular by Tenth Avenue North
Verse 2 and Chorus

ONE: Luke 4:16-21 NRSV
When Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

ALL SINGING
Love is Here (CCLI Song # 5325139)
Made popular by Tenth Avenue North
Bridge twice and Chorus 2 twice

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Love is Here compilation © 2013 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, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Altar Table Ideas- Healing Service

In Luke 24, we find the travelers on the Road to Emmaus. They are discouraged, frightened and confused. They thought Jesus was the Messiah, but now he is dead. A stranger joins them and they pour out their hearts to him. He in turn fills their hearts with the truth of scripture and fills their mouths with the bread of heaven. Holy Communion becomes a meal of hope and healing.

This altar table display was created for a healing service based on Luke 24 which offered both Holy Communion and prayer with anointing and laying on of hands.

  • The cross rests in a small fountain symbolizing the waters of baptism, refreshment, and cleansing. Come to me all you who are thirsty– Isaiah 55:1; John 7:37; Rev. 22:17. Living water gushing up to eternal life– John 7:38; Rev. 7:17
  • The fountain is encircled by three shades of blue tulle which are braided together and then flow down the front of the display. This reflects unity, companionship, journey and Trinity. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.- Ecclesiastes 4:12
  • The ascending candles draw together the communion elements (bread and cup), the two small bowls containing the anointing oil, and the flowers representing growth and new life.

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This altar table display is part of a series of displays designed by Robyn Pence and her team for the 2011 Summer Church Music Workshop sponsored by the Florida Chapter of the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts. The workshop is a terrific yearly event which includes sessions for adults and youth in areas such as traditional choir, contemporary worship, liturgical dance, sign language, handbells, banner making, altar table displays, organ, guitar, etc. plus great worship and fellowship. For more information, go to http://floridafellowship.org/

John Day 14: Living Water

Living water man

Living Water by graphic artist Mark Taylor

Gospel of John Reading Plan

Day 14 Reading: John 7:32-52

Bringing the Word to Life
Exercise or work outside. When you are finished, drink some cold water. Pause to thank the Spirit for being a stream of living water flowing within you.

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.” – John 7:37 (NRSV)

Another morning and I wake with thirst for the goodness I do not have. I walk out to the pond and all the way God has given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord, I was never a quick scholar but sulked and hunched over my books past the hour and the bell; grant me, in your mercy, a little more time. Love for the earth and love for you are having such a long conversation in my heart. Who knows what will finally happen or where I will be sent, yet already I have given a great many things away, expecting to be told to pack nothing, except the prayers which, with this thirst, I am slowly learning. -Mary Oliver

Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
and then be ready for what will
come pouring from the spring.
-Rumi, The Essential Rumi

Observation
Because of what he says at the festival, some choose to believe Jesus is the Messiah. Many Jewish leaders do not believe because they think he was born in Galilee. The Pharisees send temple guards to arrest Jesus, but they do not.

Extended reflection by Rev. Dr. Rini Hernandez: Rivers of the Spirit promised
These words are proclaimed “on the last day” of a 7-day very important festivity for God’s people: “sukkot“, or the Feast of the Tabernacles. It was one of the three main Jewish festivities that would mandate a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.

The “sukkot” was intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and some people sleep there as well. On each day of the holiday, members of the household would bring offerings to the Temple, and on the 7th day, they would bring water from the pool of Siloam. Then the High Priest would fill up a golden jar with that water, take it to the Temple and amidst the shouts for joy of the people celebrating and the sound of shofars, He would pour out the water into the altar of sacrifices.

The purpose of this ceremony was to remind the Israelites of the many blessings God gave them during those 40 years in the desert (particularly the water from the rock), but also served as a reminder of the abundance of God’s presence during the messianic era. It is in this context that Jesus says: “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!”. In my view, what Jesus is saying here is: “Don’t you get it? That water being poured out at the altar represents ME. And these celebrations are just pointing to the time when, after having lived in a spiritual desert and in fragile tents, now God is building His Eternal Kingdom and pouring out the abundance of His presence through my coming to you!”

Old Testament texts like Isaiah 12:3 were part of that celebration: “With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation”, or Psalm 46:4: “A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High”. Those texts were just an anticipated description of what the living presence of Jesus the Messiah would produce in us: “The rivers of joy”, flowing from our hearts.

The New King James Version’s render of John 7:38 is: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”. This is the description of believers in Jesus Christ who would drink from the water that He offers, experiencing the rivers of those waters flowing for others to drink and be blessed through us.

Whoever drinks from Jesus the well, Jesus the fount, Jesus the stream of waters, they would receive GRACE and JOY and NEW LIFE for themselves, but also, they will be able to communicate the same GRACE, JOY and NEW LIFE to others.

Application
Jesus provides a stream of living water for all who are thirsty for righteousness. This came at the price of Jesus being himself poured out on the cross.

For this is Christ’s spiritual thirst, his longing in love, which persists and always will until we see him … Therefore this is his thirst and his longing in love for us, to gather us all here into him, to our endless joy, as I see it. For we are not now so wholly in him as we then shall be. … We are his bliss, we are his reward, we are his honor, we are his crown. … For he still has that same thirst and longing which he had upon the Cross, which desire, longing and thirst, as I see it, were in him from without beginning; and he will have this until the time that the last soul which will be saved has come up into his bliss. … and this is the characteristic of spiritual thirst, which will persist in him so long as we are in need, and will draw us up into his bliss. -Julian of Norwich

My prayer came out as a poem today…

I thirst by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Holy Jesus, our Lord and our God, is thirsty as he hangs on the cross.
Not the everyday dryness that is easily satisfied by turning a faucet,
but the deep, deadly thirst few of us have known.
The burning, raging thirst of exposure and dehydration

By this time in His torture, Jesus’ body is a festival of pain
Cramps sweep through his muscles, knotting them,
and yet he must use them to lift himself to breath
His back, bloody and open down to the bone from the scourging,
scrapes against the craggy tree.
The lacerated veins and crushed tendons of his wrists and ankles
throb with incessant anguish
There’s a deep, crushing pain in the depths of his chest
(it’s his pericardium slowly filling with fluid)
As the heaviness closes in,
his heart struggles to pump what little is left of his thick, sluggish blood
Each variety of misery goes on and on and on
increasing with every moment that passes

How does he choose to describe this?
How does he describe the reality of his passion?
He says– I Thirst

He could have said with the Psalmist
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws
You lay me in the dust of death.

But that is too much
All his swollen tongue can say is… I thirst

Jesus knows the gift of water
The refreshment of being spoken in the beginning
as waters were separated from waters
Of guiding a rutterless ark on the vastness of the ocean
and a rutterless people through two seas and on to freedom
The warm waters of his birth and the obedient waters of his baptism
He knows the feel of spittle on his hands while making mud so a blind man may see
and the feel of spittle on his face from those who mock him

Yet all he can say is… I thirst

Only a short time before, Jesus talks with a man seeking answers in the night
Be born again of water and the Spirit
Only a short time before, Jesus talks with a cast down woman at a public well
Drink the water I give you and never thirst again
Only a short time before, Jesus cries out in the midst of the festival
Let anyone who is thirsty come to me
      Let the one who believes in me drink
Streams of living water will flow from within you

Now he pours himself out for the world… I thirst

I thirst
I thirst for you – because you cannot drink the bitter cup I must drink
I thirst for you – because I desire that none should be lost
I thirst for you – so that you may drink of me, the living water
Drink deeply
I become in you and all who believe a spring of water gushing up to eternal life

Holy Jesus, our Lord and our God, is thirsty as he hangs on the cross.
Not the everyday dryness that is easily satisfied by turning a faucet,
but the deep, vital thirst all of us may now know because of his saving work
The cleansing, satisfying thirst for righteousness

I Thirst © 2001 Lisa 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.

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For more information on the Gospel of John Reading Plan, click here

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