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.

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.

Hymn Text: The Fullness of You

This Advent, I’ve been struck by all the places in the story of Jesus’ birth where folks are “filled”.

  • Zechariah, Elizabeth and their unborn baby John are all filled with the Holy Spirit.
  • After receiving instruction in a dream, Joseph is filled with assurance to go ahead and take Mary as his wife.
  • Mary receives a unique filling. She becomes the Theotokos, the “God-bearer”, full of Word and Grace and Love and Truth made flesh in her womb.
  • The angels are filled with song and the shepherds are filled with joy at the news the Messiah is born.
  • Herod is filled with fear.
  • The wise ones are filled with curiosity over the magnificent star, then a sense of purpose to find the newborn King, then awe as they meet him, then wisdom to go home another way.
  • Anna and Simeon are filled with peace, knowing the promises of God are fulfilled in the child they have the chance to bless.

Filled by the Holy Spirit, a quilt by Lisa Ellis

This filling carries over into those first followers of Jesus. Read through the Acts of the Apostles. They are filled and filled and filled with the Holy Spirit again and again. Through that filling, they are able to preach Jesus boldly and do powerful works of healing.

To see visible objects we need the eyes of the body.
To understand intelligible truths we need the eyes of the mind.
To have the vision of divine things we cannot do without faith.
What the eye is for the body, faith is for reason.
To be more precise; the eye needs the light which puts it in contact with visible things;
reason needs faith to show it divine things. -Theodoret

The same can happen to us. Are we praying for full-fill-ment? Are we seeking the fullness of God with all our hearts? Paul is one of many who prays for it for. Let’s follow his example. You will find his beautiful petition in Ephesians 3:14-19. The new lyric you find below is based on this text, especially the last three verses.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

The Fullness of You
based on Ephesians 3:17-19

I desire the fullness of You
The height and the depth
The length and the breadth
Oh God I desire the fullness
Of Your love, Your love in Christ Jesus

Root me in Your love
Establish those roots to the core of Your heart
Root me in Your love
Grow them deep, grow them true
Tapping into the fullness of You

I desire the fullness of You
The height and the depth
The length and the breadth
Oh God I desire the fullness
Of Your love, Your love in Christ Jesus

Grant me Your power
Together with all who choose to believe
Grant us Your power
Light our minds, Shine right through
Till we grasp the vast fullness of You

I want to know Your love
A love that surpasses all knowledge
The full measure of Your love
You are Love, my Love, our Love, our first Love

We desire the fullness of You
The height and the depth
The length and the breadth
Oh God we desire the fullness
Of Your love, Your love in Christ Jesus

© 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.
Lisa is especially interested in collaborating with someone to set this text to music.