Poem: There They Stand (Luke 1:39-56)

old and young hands2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 4 Reading: Luke 1:39-56
Mary Visits Elizabeth

She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
– Luke 1:40

Poem: There They Stand
There they stand
breathless
belly to belly
the maid and the elder cousin
full of grace and truth

John leaps for joy
Covered in the flesh of Elizabeth
Unborn, yet already at work
In the wilderness of her womb
He will not wait to make the Way known

Elizabeth extends her arthritic hands
One wrapping Mary in welcome
The other in blessing
Encompassing the inexperienced traveler
in affirmation of faith

Worship overwhelms worry
In the sanctuary of her solace
Mary is safe enough to sing

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This post is part of the 2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas. Click here for more information, including a list of all the readings.

Prayer: There They Stand © 2010 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 and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.

Prayer: Mary’s Welcome (Luke 1:26-38)

woman sunlight window

2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 3 Reading: Luke 1:26-38
Mary and the Holy Spirit

The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…
– Luke 1:35

Prayer: Mary’s Welcome
Holy Spirit, come
Into the smallness of my life
Into the bewilderment of my being
Into fears which must be faced

Holy Spirit, come
Into the backwoods of my world
Into the places people forget
Into places people put down… what good can come from there

Holy Spirit, welcome
Here am I, the servant of the Lord
Let it be with me according to your word
Amen

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This post is part of the 2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas. Click here for more information, including a list of all the readings.

Prayer: Mary’s Welcome © 2010 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 and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.

Prayer: You Are With Me (Luke 1:26-38)

open-hands
2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 2 Reading: Luke 1:26-38
Mary and Gabriel

The Lord is with you
– Luke 1:28

Prayer: You are with me
I am favored
I am blessed
because you are with me

I am unafraid
Known by name
because you are with me

You’re help and home
You’re servant and sanctuary
The impossible possible
because you are with me
in me
upon me
let it be
let it be

Click Here for Steve Garnaas Holmes’ wonderful imagining of the Annunciation text
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This post is part of the 2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas. Click here for more information, including a list of all the readings.

Prayer: You are with me © 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.

Prayer: Now and Not Yet (Luke 1:5-25)

Barefoot-Walking on path2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 1 Reading: Luke 1:5-25
Zechariah and Gabriel

Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so?
– Luke 1:18

Prayer: Now and Not Yet
God of Now and Not Yet,
We race ahead of you,
Wanting answers now
Results now
Actions now
We see you lagging behind,
slow in coming.
Hosanna! Save Now!

God of Now and Not Yet,
We struggle to keep up,
You appear, but we are slow to believe
Slow to understand
Slow to change
Slow to act
Slow to…
You race head, pioneering into unfamiliar places,
Be still so we can keep you caged

God of Now and Not Yet,
Your Kingdom draws near and stretches into forever
Steady our steps
Till the rhythm of our faith
Keeps pace with your faithfulness
Amen

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This post is part of the 2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas. Click here for more information, including a list of all the readings.

Prayer: Now and Not Yet © 2010 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 and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.

#LukeActs2014: The Promise of Redemption (Luke 1:67-68)

candle lightReading for the week of January 5: Luke 1
Click Here for more information on the #LukeActs2014 Reading Plan

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.” – Luke 1:67-68 NRSV

Click Here for a reflection entitled In Darkness, Light by Steve Garnaas Holmes

Observation
Over and over again in Luke 1, I see God’s promise of redemption. God will bring goodness, wholeness, and salvation out of all that is broken, disordered, captive and unjust.

Mary reminds us the lowly are not forgotten or cursed. The young, the inexperienced, the under educated, the oppressed, the nobodies from nowhere. They will be lifted up. In God… to God… All have value. All can be used of God in powerful ways. All are invited to welcome God deep within, to bear the Promised One into the world.

Elizabeth reminds us the barren are not forgotten or cursed. The elderly, the long disappointed, the labeled, the disgraced. With God, they have a place to belong, to sing, to share. Some will bear the miracle of children, but all can find a place in the family of God. All are empowered to encourage, to welcome and to raise up those who are young in faith.

Zechariah reminds us of the barren, too. Barren in family and barren in faith. Unbelieving, desiring proof. His maturity, breeding, status, education, and ordination have failed him. He knows the rituals but can no longer cling to the promises. Even so, he is not forgotten or cursed. He is not beyond God’s grace. No one is. Like Elizabeth and Mary, he becomes pregnant with hope and births a new life.

The Mighty One has done great things for us (vs 49)

  • Hears our prayers (vs 13)
  • Makes a way for relationships to be restored with God and with others (vs 16, 17)
  • Looks on us with favor, including the barren, the unbelieving, and the lowly (vs 31, 48, 68)
  • Extends mercy (vs 50, 54, 58, 72)
  • Brings justice for the lowly when they are oppressed by the powerful (vs 51-54, 71, 74)
  • Remembers and upholds the covenants (vs 54-55)
  • Fills us with the Holy Spirit (vs 15, 35, 41, 67)
  • Raises up a mighty Savior to forgive our sins, give us light, and guide us in the way of peace (vs 69, 72, 77-79)

The Mighty One has done great things for us… all of us… Holy is His Name

Application
Our responses to God’s redeeming grace and mercy

  • Leave the fear behind (vs 13, 31)
  • Rejoice (vs 14, 47, 58)
  • Here I am the servant of the Lord (vs 38, 74)
  • Praise and Proclaim God’s character and actions (42, 46, 68)

Prayer
Jesus, Light of the World,
We bless you and praise you
For the warmth of your love
For the radiance of your grace
For all the ways you illumine the path of hope and life
By your tender mercy,
The dawn from on high breaks upon us and all the world
Shining in us and through us and for us
All who are in darkness and the shadow of death
May come to your light
All may walk in the ways of peace
Shine on Radiant One
Our Light and our Salvation
Shine on
Amen.

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For the #LukeActs2014 reading plan, I’m using the SOAP method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here

For the graphics I created for my memory verses from Luke 1, click here

For the introductory post to Luke 1, click here

reflection and prayer © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Christmas 4: Zechariah’s Prayer

The Story of Christmas
Day 4 Reading:
Luke 1:57-80

For a reflection on this scripture, click here

Perhaps this is the gift of silence, it shuts off our brains enough for us to receive a new story and, like Zechariah, to worship fully.
– Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pregnant old ladies and other signs that God’s story is better than the one we tell ourselves

Click Here for a reflection entitled In Darkness, Light by Steve Garnaas Holmes

Canticle:
Seeking God’s Liberation and Deliverance
This worship resource is based on Luke 1:57-80, the great prayer of faith and hope that bursts forth from Zechariah when he is freed from silence at the naming of his son. It combines the hymn Blessed Be the God of Israel by Carl P. Daw, Jr. with original prayers by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia. Suggested tunes for the hymn are KINGSFOLD or FOREST GREEN. This prayer is especially powerful when sung with only the accompaniment of a hand drum such as a djembe.

ONE OR ALL SINGING:
Blest be the God of Israel who comes to set us free
and raises up new hope for us: a Branch from David’s tree.
So have the prophets long declared that with a mighty arm
God would turn back our enemies and all who wish us harm.

ONE VOICE:
Save us and all people from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Guide our feet into the way of peace.

ALL SPEAKING:
Liberate us and all people from political oppression and corruption,
so all may worship you and serve you without fear.

ONE OR ALL SINGING:
With promised mercy will God still the covenant recall:
The oath once sworn to Abraham, from foes to save us all;
That we might worship without fear and offer lives of praise,
In holiness and righteousness before God all our days.

ONE VOICE:
Rescue us and all people from ignorance and false teaching,
that we may be transformed by the knowledge of salvation.

ALL SPEAKING:
You show great mercy and forgiveness to every person.
Release us from slavery to sin and death.

ONE OR ALL SINGING:
My child, as prophet of the Lord, you will prepare the way,
to tell God’s people they are saved from sin’s eternal sway.
Then shall God’s mercy from on high shine forth and never cease
to drive away the gloom of death and lead us into peace.

ONE VOICE:
Free us and all people from addiction and destructive dependence,
that we would embrace light rather than darkness.

ALL SPEAKING:
Deliver us and all people from despair and discouragement.
Help us walk through the shadows rather than making our home there.

ALL SINGING:
Blest be the God of Israel who comes to set us free
and raises up new hope for us: a Branch from David’s tree.
So have the prophets long declared that with a mighty arm
God would turn back our enemies and all who wish us harm.

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For information on The Story of Christmas Reading Plan, click here

Blessed Be the God of Israel text © 1989 Hope Publishing Co.

Prayers and compilation © 2010 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 and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.

Christmas 2: Mary and Gabriel

Annunciation by James Christensen

Annunciation by James Christensen

The Story of Christmas
Day 2 Reading:
Luke 1:26-38

She was perplexed,
but the angel said,
“Do not be afraid.”
God’s whispers can rattle us.
Don’t be afraid to listen.
– Steve Garnaas Holmes,
Listen to Gabriel

This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed salvation for all the children of Adam, the whole of your race. Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal word. – Bernard of Clairvaux

In Mary, and in us, we see our own incapacity to make spiritual things happen by our own devices, by our own intelligence, and with our own bodies; but I can receive, trust, and allow God to do it in me and through me. – Richard Rohr

We know we are entirely dependent upon God, yet we forget and try to make our own provision for tomorrow or waste our energy in anxiety and fear that we will be forsaken when tomorrow comes. Mary was able to trust her life fully to the everlasting arms, sure that she would be upheld no matter what the future brought.
– Rueben P. Job, A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God

Mary’s window on Advent reminds us that the purpose of our God encounters is not understanding, but trust: “Let it be with me just as you have said” (Luke 1:38) is the response of every servant.- Steve Harper, Mary’s Window

Her response to the angel was not, “I will do everything in my power to be who God wants me to be.” It was “let it be with me according to God’s word.” I trust that I am who God says that I am. Here’s where I want to take a page from Mary’s prayer book. Let me be what your word has claimed me to be. Let me become what you have said I am. Your word, oh God, and not the word of the school system or the word of my bank statement or the word of my family or the word of society or the word of the media. But your word O God, let this be what defines me. I will allow you alone to determine my worth. – Nadia Bolz Webber, And a Soul Felt Its Worth: a Sermon on an Overlooked Miracle

Jesus’ own mother was the first female in the New Testament to hear the words “Fear not” when the angel called her to do something “inappropriate for a godly woman”—agree to an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. The angel’s “Fear not” wasn’t just for poetic effect. This young teenager had reason to fear both the angel and the consequences of the job she was being called to do. In the ancient culture, this kind of pregnancy was not considered a misstep, but a violation of family honor that must be answered and was punishable by shunning, divorce, or death. Yet Mary didn’t give fear the final word, but risked her life to answer God’s call. – Carolyn Custiss James

Steve Garnaas Holmes offers two beautiful and inspiring meditations entitled Annunciation. Click here for the one posted in 2017 and click here for the one posted in 2014. Click here for a meditation entitled Bear the Child.

Jan Richardson offers an imaginative reflection on the annunciation from Gabriel’s perspective in her poem Gabriel’s Annunciation.

Prayer: Mary’s Welcome
Holy Spirit, come
Into the smallness of my life
Into the bewilderment
of my being
Into fears
which must be faced

Holy Spirit, come
Into the backwoods of my world
Into the places people forget
Into places people put down… what good can come from there

Holy Spirit, welcome
Here am I, the servant of the Lord
Let it be with me according to your word. Amen.

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For information on The Story of Christmas Reading Plan, click here

Prayer: Mary’s Welcome © 2010 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 and the use of this post in other settings,
please leave a comment.