Prayer: Shall, based on Isaiah 40:3-5 A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
The time is now, for you have called
The place is now, for you have spoken
Yes, it is a wilderness, a desert even
So dry, so rough
Yes, the gap is so very wide between the high and the low
But, you have called
You have spoken
Not an if or when or maybe
Not even a try
You have spoken shall
Every valley shall be lifted
Every mountain shall be made low
The uneven shall be made level
The rough shall be made smooth
So we will persevere in this wilderness of preparing
We will not forge a path or blaze a trail but make a highway
A highway for your coming
For your glory, O God shall be revealed in this place
And all shall see it
All shall see it together
Prayer: Make Your Way, based on Mark 1:1-3 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'”
How do we prepare the way in this time and place?
I’ve witnessed the modern-day prophets
Dipping your two-edged sword in fear and hate
Divining pure from sin, saved from heretic
Confident in their judgments
There are others, too, who take a different path
Coating your sword with sugar and stories
Tickling our ears with prosperity and self-help
We’ve come so far from Brother John
Your blade in hand
Sharp yet washed in the wilderness of prayer
Dripping with Good News
This is Your Way
Make your way in us, O God
Make your way in us
*********** Click Here for a powerful prayer by Steve Garnaas Holmes entitled The rough made smooth, also inspired by this passage.
Click here for Comfort Ye by Steve Garnaas Holmes, a word of encouragement to those experiencing horror and abuse and those striving to bring justice and healing.
Can you tell I’m a fan of Steve Garnaas Holmes? Here’s another jewel entitled Prepare the Way.
It’s my honor to continue praying with you as we read the Gospels this Summer. Today we start the Gospel of Mark. I’ll be focusing on breath prayers and prayer prompts for this Gospel. Please feel free to add your prayers based on the readings in the post comments as well.
I’m new to breath prayers. Maybe you are, too. Pray the phrase after IN on your breath in. Pray the phrase after OUT on your breath out. Take your time. Breathe deeply.
If no phrase is offered after IN or OUT, just breathe. If more than one breath prayer is provided, choose one, a few, or all of them as is most helpful to you.
I find breath prayers especially helpful before a time of stillness and silence with God.
IN: Jesus, forgive me
OUT: Thanks be to God
IN: You name me beloved
OUT: Thanks be to God
IN: You are with me
OUT: in this wilderness
IN: Jesus, you call me
OUT: I will follow
IN: Heal us, Jesus
For the next few months, I’m reading a chapter from the Gospels each day. This is part of the Summer in the Scriptures reading plan sponsored by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Click Here for the reading plan.
Mark 1:14-20, NRSV Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
You call me from what I know to something new
From a life on this sea with this family
From the nets of generations before me
You call me to a new beginning
A new being and doing
You call me to follow
To move and become
Help me turn towards you
Help me follow
Help me believe and trust you fully
Help me live into my chosenness
To lay down what I know and pick up anew
Empower me to go out with you
Across, beyond, into the deep
Bringing in your wild, shining kingdom
Full, full nets
Full, full nets
Full, full nets
Message: The Sunday After the School Shooting, Repent and Believe the Gospel Scriptures: Genesis 3:19;Mark 1:15 Offered 2/18/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida, the Sunday after the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL.
Victims of the School Shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL. 17 murdered, 15 more injured
Chris Hixon, 49
Nicholas Dworet, 17
Aaron Feis, 37
Gina Montalto, 14
Scott Beigel, 35
Alyssa Alhadeff, 14
Joaquin Oliver, 17
Jaime Guttenberg, 14
Martin Duque, 14
Meadow Pollack, 18
Alex Schachter, 14
Peter Wong, 15
Helena Ramsay, 17
Alaina Petty, 14
Carmen Schentrup, 16
Cara Loughran, 14
Luke Hoyer, 15
I’ve been haunted by the picture of a woman holding another woman with a cross of ashes on her forehead. The school shooting occurred Valentine’s Day, which was also Ash Wednesday. This woman had been to worship earlier in the day with no idea how her day would end.
As the ashes were applied to her forehead, this is what she heard, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. Repent and believe the Gospel.”
Remember you are dust and to dust, you shall return (Genesis 3:19)
Remember you are earthy, humus. Remember God gave you the gift of life, that you are made in the image of God, that you are strong, gifted, and beloved of God.
Remember it with humility, for you are humus, human. You are just like everyone else. You are frail, mortal. You are capable of great love and great sin.
The online mass shooting tracker defines mass murder as 3 or more people murdered in one event. They define a mass shooting as 4 or more people shot in a single shooting spree.
From January 1- February 17, 2018, the first 48 days of the year, there have been 43 mass shootings. 83 persons were killed and 151 persons wounded.
Remember you are dust and to dust, you shall return. Repent…
We wear ashes to remind us of our mortality, our frailty, our humanness, and our need for humility. The ashes also remind us of sackcloth and ashes. In the scriptures, persons would wear sackcloth and ashes when they were grieving the loss of a loved one or the loss of freedom. They would also wear sackcloth and ashes when they were grieving their sin.
My intentional inventory related to all these shootings. I repent and seek God’s forgiveness.
I repent of sympathizing with the bereaved families and then too quickly moving on
I repent of offering “thoughts and prayers” which cost me nothing instead of risking and caring and working for peace
Faith without works is dead
Sermons without action is hypocrisy
I repent of my participation in our culture of death
The violence I tolerate in the name of entertainment
The weapons I tolerate in the name of safety and freedom
The hard conversations about guns and children I am afraid to have, afraid to lead in our church family because there’s already enough pain in my life, and I don’t want to add more
I repent of the harm I do to others
With my words and with my silence
With my actions and with my inaction
Remember you are dust and to dust, you shall return. Repent and believe…
I don’t have to become numb or overwhelmed in the face of wave after wave of violence
That we can all have safe schools
That we can all have access to great mental health care provided by gifted professionals
That it is my responsibility to hold our leaders accountable and to help them be courageous
That we can have honest, faithful conversations on difficult topics and still remain brothers and sisters in Christ
That we can/must lay aside our divisions to end the plague of gun violence
Remember you are dust and to dust, you shall return: time is short and valuable, life is valuable. Repent: there is time to turn in a new direction, that new direction is toward God.
I don’t just believe, I believe in the Gospel
God is good. God is strong. God is love.
Our Jesus, the One who healed, taught, prayed for us, understands our pain because he was tortured and murdered, senselessly, unjustly.
And our Jesus rose victorious, our Savior and Lord, our Peace, our Hope
I claim the Gospel, the power of the cross and resurrection
That breaks the power of grief, despair, and death itself
That breaks the cycle of violence, retaliation, fear, apathy
I claim the Gospel, the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me
To speak the truth in love, to work for the common good, to pray and to act
To seek the wisdom of Almighty God to end the bloodshed because Jesus shed enough for all of us
Ann Voskamp testimony from her blog post
When I stand in the kitchen, stacking dishes on the third day of Lent, our littlest girl flies by me on her wooden push bike, “Looooveeeee you.”
And a heart hurting for a hurting world, I mutter it more to her than to me,
“What in this world does love even mean?”
And our little girl comes to a full stop. Slides off her little Red Rider. And comes back to me.
“You wanna know what Love means?”
She cocks her head, parrots back my words in her high-pitched 3-year-old lisp.
And I look over to her standing there in her mismatched socks and a lopsided ponytail.
“I know what love means, Mama!” She gently laughs like a laying on of hands that heals the rawest wounds.
“Love means this —— “ And she flings her arms open as wide as they can reach.
That wisp of a 3-year-old girl, she’s standing there with her arms stretched wide open — cruciform. Not wearing a cross on her forehead — yet making all of her — arms, hands, body — into a cross. “Yeah, you’re right baby girl — Love means exactly this.”
Remember You are Dust and to Dust, You Shall Return (Genesis 3:19)
Repent and Believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15)
An Invitation to Observe a Holy Lent
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
the early Christians observed with great devotion
the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection,
and it became the custom of the Church that before the Easter celebration
there should be a forty–day season of spiritual preparation.
In this way, the whole congregation was reminded
of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ
and the need we all have to renew our faith.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Jesus Christ and His Church,
to observe a holy Lent:
by self–examination, and repentance;
by prayer, fasting, and self–denial;
by acts of generosity, compassion, peacemaking, and service;
and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.
To make a right beginning of repentance,
and as a mark of our mortal nature,
let us now come and bow before our Creator and Redeemer.
Thanksgiving Over the Ashes
Almighty God, you created humanity from the dust of the earth. Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality, our humility, and sorrow for our sin. We admit our eternal need of you and claim the greatness of your eternal grace and forgiveness, in Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
Imposition of Ashes Persons are invited forward to receive ashes on their forehead and kneel in confession. The following words are traditionally spoken by those applying the ashes as the ashes are received
Remember that you are dust, and to dust, you shall return. (Gen. 3:19)
Repent, and believe the gospel.
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean 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 join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.