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

***********
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

*****************
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

**********
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.

*****************
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.

***********
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.

In Search of Living Water

The Serpentine Ghost by photographer Ben Horne

Exodus 17:2-7 (NRSV)
The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Jeremiah 2:12-13 (NRSV)
Be appalled, O heavens, at this, be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.

The Father is the Spring,
the Son is called the Stream
and we are said to drink the Spirit.
– Athanasius

The thirst for God is universal because we have been created with a longing for the Creator. This desire to know and be known by the One who made us and loves us is often ignored, denied, and finally buried under a multitude of pursuits and interests. But then some event in life invites or forces us to pause, and the desire for God comes rushing back to our awareness. And once again we know that real life is impossible without the companionship of the One who first gave us the gift of life and who sustains us even now. – Rueben P. Job, A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God

From The Awkward Season- Prayers for Lent by Pamela C Hawkins

From The Awkward Season- Prayers for Lent by Pamela C Hawkins

The things of God have a circumference. They are preserved in a written body of truth. It’s like a well – and no one has ever fathomed the depth of God’s truth. To go into the power of the gospel, or of prayer, or the Holy Spirit, or divine love is to plunge ever deeper and deeper into God’s well. Every man or woman used by God has gone down into this vast reservoir. – Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

Quote and Blessing from In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan L. Richardson
And the well runs dry. It’s one of the most common experiences in the spiritual life. A practice that we have cherished, a habit that has deepened us and drawn us closer to God, a discipline that we perhaps have engaged in for years no longer seems to work. … Pondering the questions that lie at the bottom of a dry well offers a journey of its own. What I know is this: to find the answers, we have to pay attention to the dryness. This is a desert place. As uncomfortable as it may be, there is no substitute for these desert places in the spiritual life. They offer a wisdom that we cannot get any other way.

BLESSING
When the well goes dry, listen.
Sit by it, your ear pressed to its rim.
Hear the empty and the hollow of it.
Let be. Let be.
When finally you hear your breath
echo back to you,
let this sound be your first prayer.
Where there is breath,
there is water somewhere.
Breathe.

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.’ ”

Our brokenness is the wound through which the full power of God can penetrate our being and transfigure us in God. Loneliness is not something from which we must flee but the place from where we can cry out to God, where God will find us and we can find God. Yes, through our wounds the power of God can penetrate us and become like rivers of living water to irrigate the arid earth within us. Thus we may irrigate the arid earth of others, so that hope and love are reborn. – Jean Vanier, The Broken Body

Prayer for Living Water
God of the Wilderness, we are thirsty. We are dry and hard. Our hearts are more stone than flesh. Swing your saving rod once more. Crack us open. Break us of quarreling and division. Smash our fondness for complaining. Shatter our mistrust, especially our mistrust of you. Let your living water flow, a stream in the desert, a spring of salvation. God, we are so very thirsty. Flood us and the world with your healing and transforming love, through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

***********
Prayer for Living Water © 2010 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.

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