There’s More to Martha, Mary, Lazarus (John 11)

Jesus Palm Sunday Benedictine Sisters Turvey Abbey

Jesus Enters Jerusalem by The Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey

Sermon Series: There’s More to Life
Message 4 of 5: Martha, Mary, Lazarus

Scripture: John 11:17-44
Notes from a message offered Palm Sunday, 4/14/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Palm Sunday

  • The crowd comes up from Bethany to the top of the Mount of Olives. Jesus can see the whole city: Gethsemane, the Temple, Caiaphas’ house where he will be imprisoned and beaten, Golgotha where he will die
  • Jesus’ entering Jerusalem- crowd crying out Hosanna, waving palm branches, laying cloaks in the street, Jesus riding a donkey like King Solomon when he entered Jerusalem, great excitement. No one will mistake the message Jesus is riding into town like a king.
  • What does Jesus do? Jesus weeps.

Matthew 23:37
Jesus said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

Jesus wept is the shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus weeps many times.

  • Wept over Jerusalem on Palm Sunday
  • Wept in the olive grove of Gethsemane as he was being crushed and pressed in prayer the night of his arrest
  • Wept with his dear friends Martha and Mary over the death of their brother Lazarus
    • Lazarus- the one Jesus loved, possibly the beloved disciple Jesus entrusted his mother to at his death
    • Their home was Jesus’ safe place, a home away from home

Washington Irving said, “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness but of power. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and of unspeakable love.”

What if we looked at our tears as our love overflowing. My cup overflows…

Henri Nouwen said in Behold the Beauty of the Lord
The One who sees unceasingly the limitless goodness of God came to the world, saw it broken to pieces by human sin and was moved to compassion. The same eyes which see into the heart of God saw the suffering hearts of God’s people and wept.

  • Our situations trouble Jesus’ spirit down to the deepest parts of his soul
  • Our pain summons his tears
  • Jesus understands our pain- responds with empathy and compassion and understanding
  • Jesus weeps for us and with us
    • There is no shame in our tears. No weakness. It reveals the depth of our love.
    • No need to apologize. No need to hide. In Jesus, there is dignity and validity to our grieving and tears.
    • I’m honored you would count me safe enough to cry before me. And I’m honored you would receive my tears in return.
Jesus wept James Tissot

Jesus Wept by James Tissot

Reading of John 11:17-27

Jesus has profound conversations with people in the Gospel of John. With Nicodemus in the middle of the night, with the woman at the well, with the man by the pool, and now with Martha. Matha starts preaching- You are the Messiah!

Martha is busy, busy, busy. But she’s not too busy right now. She gets it.

Martha reveals a faithful path of grief

  • Go to Jesus- don’t avoid God
  • Be honest- honest with feelings, questions, accusations
  • Listen
    • Jesus will remind you of God’s promises
    • Jesus will reveal who he is

Read John 11:28-44

Lazarus is swaddled like a babe. They would wrap the babies and they would wrap the dead. He is in that womb of a tomb and Jesus calls him out and says, “unbind him.” Set him free.

Hosanna! Save now!
Hosanna! Set us free!
This is the glory of our God.
Why we worship and why we place our trust in Jesus.
Why we give our lives to Jesus.
He is fully divine- I am the Resurrection and I am the Life
He is fully human- weeping and mourning with us and for us

Jesus is the One who saves
Unbind her!
Unbind him!
This is our God!
Do you believe?

This is the week where we put a mile marker in the road and say, “I believe!” I’m going to come and hear the story again. I’m going to come and worship. I’m going to be with my Jesus who knows me and loves me and saves me.

This is what we do. This is who we are. Anyone can say, “I believe.” They are part of the kingdom, and the power, and glory. Forever. Amen.

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Martha, Mary, Lazarus © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

There’s More to Life Man at the Pool (John 5.1-9)

Sermon Series: There’s More to Life
Message 3 of 5: Man at the Pool

Scripture: John 5:1-9
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 4/7/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Prayer from Ephesians 3
Insert someone’s name to offer a prayer of blessing for him/her.

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen ___________. Fill ___________’s soul with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in his/her heart. May love be the rich soil where ________’s life takes root. May it be the bedrock where ___________’s life is founded, so that together with all of Your people, he/she will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God may Your fullness flood through __________’s entire being. Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus the Anointed from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen.

Israel map temple bethesda

Israel Trip- The Church of Saint Anne

  • a Roman Catholic Church, located in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem
    • A 45-minute walk from this location to the temple mount

DSC_0899

  • Saint Anne’s marks the traditional childhood home of Mary the mother of Jesus. It is dedicated to her parents, Anna and Joachim.
  • Crusader era church, built around 1140
    • you notice the coolness, plain stone, elegant simplicity, timelessness
    • Church has extraordinary acoustics. The notes hang in the air for at least 5 seconds. It flows. It ripples. It feels like you are being washed in the sound. We sang O Come, O Come Emmanuel; Holy Holy Holy; and Amazing Grace.

st anne jerusalem interior

Next to the church is the ruin of the pool of Bethesda, also know as Bethzatha and Bethsaida.

  • Literally means “House of Mercy”
  • This is the location mentioned in John 5, Jesus healing a man who’d been waiting there for 38 years.
  • On our trip, we read this story along with James 5 and offered each other prayers for healing. A profound worship experience, praying for healing in a place of healing.

st anne jerusalem exterior with ruin

DSC_0906

Prayers for Healing

  • I long for healing. Of all the prayers I pray, I pray for healing the most.
  • Watching over persons in need. This list is long, constantly changing and flowing.
  • Times I am overwhelmed by the need. Needs within the congregation, community, nation, and world.
  • When Jesus walks into the area around the pools of Bethesda, it is overflowing with people in great need. They have come in hope of healing.
  • We come into the presence of God, trusting God in Jesus is our Savior forever.

Where we are in the story

  • In John 2 and 3, Jesus is in Jerusalem. He preaches on the teaching steps and turns over the tables of the money changers in the temple, getting the attention of the Jewish leadership (Pharisees, Sadducees, Sanhedrin). He speaks with Nicodemus at night.
  • He heads back home to Galilee through Samaria, where he has the conversation with the woman at the well.
  • He makes it to Galilee to the city of Capernaum, his home base, where he heals some people.
  • Then it’s time for another Jewish festival so he’s back in Jerusalem.

Read John 5:1-9

He’s been waiting for 38 years

  • Two generations, a lifetime in the ancient world
  • Did family bring him and leave him? Did he come himself?
  • He’s lost everything. He has nothing.  “Sir, I have no one…”
  • He has an unknown condition – it’s the Greek word for weakness (body, soul, mind, etc.). Don’t we all have weakness?
Healing at the pool of bethesda by Carl Bloch

Healing at the Pool of Bethesda by Carl Bloch

Jesus asks, “Do you want to be well?”

He answers, “As soon as the water bubbles then I will get up off my mat. As soon as I get some help into the water my problems will be fixed.”

The pool was thought to be magical, miraculous. The water would bubble and someone would be healed.

How many of us are stuck in as soon as … As soon as ______________ happens life will be better. I’ll be happy. My problems will go away. I’ll be satisfied. All will be well.

This pool is a symbol of the strong attraction of As Soon As. We can drown in it. We can sit a lifetime beside it.

  • Children often say, “As soon as I’m big enough”
  • Teens- “As soon as I graduate from high school”
  • As soon as I get a job… I make enough money
  • As soon as I get married or get divorced
  • As soon as I have children or the children are grown
  • Retire
  • Lose 10 pounds
  • Get sober
  • Get over my grief
  • As soon as he/she apologizes or gets their act together and does right by me

As soon as is an illusion, a false promise, even a false God. We think it that this circumstantial change will be the magic bullet, the quick fix that we are longing for. It causes us to live stagnant lives.

Jesus offers us living water, a spring of life gushing up and overflowing to eternal life.

Stagnant water is not alive. Nothing can live in it. It smells. It’s where things go to die.

We stay stuck. We push the pause button on life. We put life on hold. It is self-imprisonment.

The imprisonment is so great that when Jesus asks, “Do you want to be made well?” We can’t even think about saying say, “Yes.” We just start in with the as soon as…

Bethesda/Bethzatha/Bethsaida means House of Mercy, but it is actually a house of despair, a house of lies and falsehood

  • the pool was an Asclepieion
  • a place where healing was supposed to take place by the power of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing.
  • The medical symbol with the snakes is connected to Asclepius.
  • Asclepius was called “savior” by his followers just like some call as soon as “savior”

The scene in a new context:
It is the time of a Jewish festival, so Jesus who is very Jewish, goes to Jerusalem. On the Jewish Sabbath, this Jewish Rabbi (and Messiah) goes to a local landmark dedicated to the Greek god of healing. He walks up to the person with the least chance of getting better (38 years!) and proceeds to heal the man, right there in the middle of the building

Jesus is the Savior. The Healer. Jesus brings salvation.

Salvation does not mean healed it means whole. There’s a big difference. 

You can have brokenness is your body, your family, your job, your mind, your heart, and still be whole. Paul had a thorn in the flesh that he went to heaven with and he was whole.

Jesus was broken and tortured, a victim of oppression injustice and corruption and Jesus was whole. In fact, in heaven, Jesus still has his scars as a testimony to the power of God in the midst of his brokenness. He wasn’t Savior as soon as he was resurrected. He was Savior in the midst of it.

We aren’t whole just when we go home to heaven. We are whole now because of Jesus. Salvation means wholeness.

I’m not suggesting that the circumstances of our lives are irrelevant or aren’t real or aren’t important. They are. We may be limited in some ways, but we are not limited in every way. We are more than our circumstances. Salvation means wholeness- not perfection or even healing.

Jesus is the true Savior- Not a change of circumstance, not your ability, not who you know. 

Nick Vujicic

Nick Vujicic (VU-Yee-Chek) an Australian man who was born with no arms and no legs, who after a deep bout with depression, decided that he didn’t want his life to be defined by his weakness or limitation, but instead he wanted his life to be defined by his worth as a child of God gifted and called to bring light and hope to others.

Nick has traveled around the world, sharing his story with millions, sometimes in stadiums filled to capacity, speaking to a range of diverse groups such as students, teachers, young people, business professionals and church congregations of all sizes. Today this dynamic young evangelist has accomplished more than most people achieve in a lifetime. He’s an author, musician, actor, husband, and father of 4. He has gone skydiving, surfing, and his hobbies include fishing, painting, and swimming.

Nick is whole and you can be, too.

When Jesus asks, “Do you want to be well?” What will you say? Will you say, “yes?”

Jesus’ invitation to us is to live into the fullness of God. Power made perfect in weakness. Infinite power. Infinite grace. Infinite mercy. Infinite love. There’s always more- more to ask for, more to discover, more to receive, more to grow into, more to become, because that more is beyond our circumstance. It is in the midst of the circumstance.

I pray you are filled with the fullness of God. I pray that you will leave behind the chains of as soon as. Freed from the shackles. That you will not be stuck waiting and trusting a false understanding, false fix, a false god to save you- the false never will. Say yes to the One True Living God.

I pray you will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. May the fullness of God flood through your entire being.

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Man at the Pool Sermon © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

There’s More to Life Woman of Samaria (John 4.3-26)

woman at well olive wood statue carving

Olive Wood carving of the Woman at the Well from Jerusalem. We brought this treasure back with us from our recent trip.

Sermon Series: There’s More to Life
Message 2 of 5: Woman of Samaria (Woman at the Well)

Scripture: John 4:3-26
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 3/31/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Rebekah Lyons testimony of God’s unconditional love. Rebekah is the mother of a child with Down syndrome.

Reading of John 4:3-26

The Woman at the Well
In the ancient world, your place as a woman was defined by your connection to a man:
Father, Brother, Husband, Son. We’re not just talking about social status- we’re talking access to what’s needed to survive.

  • Shelter from the extreme heat and cold of the desert
  • Food in your belly and clothes on your back
  • Loving relationships to weather you through the cruelties of life
  • Access to water on a regular basis

Where is her father? Most likely deceased.

Where is her brother, her sons, her children? Maybe she had none.

Where is the husband? Scripture tells us she’s had five husbands. Could it be in this harsh and cruel environment she’s lost five husbands to death? Maybe.

Could it be that because men in this time and culture controlled marriage and controlled divorce, could it be that she’s been thrown away five times? Told to go, you are not wanted.

The man she’s with now will not claim her legally. She has been shared and shamed, a survivor of cruelty and abuse.

She is an outcast in her community. We know this because in the ancient world went to the well based on their status. The most respected admired women would visit the well first, and she’s drawing her morning water at noon.

She is alone. Not in the company of the other women. Not enjoying their camaraderie and community.

This unnamed woman is barren of security. She’s been thrown away, driven away, shared and shamed, outcast, isolated.

She finds herself at Jacob’s well and today there’s a man there. He is Jewish. She is Samaritan. I imagine what is going through her mind and heart: How much more shame and disgrace am I going to get today? Jews and Samaritans don’t hang out. Am I going to hear from this man’s lips, “Half-breed! Heretic!”?

No. She hears from the lips of our Jesus respect. Good News.

They’re at a well, so Jesus uses the metaphor of water to share the Good News of Living Water, cleansing, refreshing, restoring, new birth. It is available to her.

He gives her a chance to reveal herself and she does. She’s honest and truthful. He recognizes it. The conversation could have gone any direction,  at that point and she dives in deep theologically.

Jesus sees her, not what people label her. He sees how she’s been abused, her great need, her wounds, and yet he sees her giftedness. He sees her keen mind.

They begin a discussion like rabbi and to rabbi. Where do we worship and how do we worship and is there a place for me in worshiping God?

This is the longest theological discussion in the four Gospels. This unnamed woman of Samaria.

Deep down, deep down, deep down the question she is asking and the question each and every one of asks is: Does God want me and does God love me?

That is the core question. My community threw me out. They’ve shamed me and abused me. The Jews say I’m not worshiping in the right place in the right way. The Messiah is coming …

The core question: Does God want me and does God love me. The answer is always Yes! Always! 

It is yes to the woman of Samaria and it is yes to us.

No matter what the world names us. No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. No matter what we’ve done to survive. The answer is always Yes!

The love of God is unconditional love. The love of God comes without judgment. “God sent his son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17)

This emptiness, this dryness, this wilderness, can only be quench by Jesus’s living water, Jesus’s saving love.

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

– Chorus of Reckless Love by Cory Asbury

This week the Towery boys found it and claimed it for themselves. Rebekah Lyons saw it in the unconditional love of her son with Down syndrome. A great gift that he’s sharing. The woman at the well finds it in Jesus and shares it as well. She becomes one of the first evangelists. She runs back to the people who’ve been awful to her and says, “I think the Messiah is at the well.” They come, Jesus stays with them for days and many are saved.

Closing Prayer from Ephesians 3
Repetition of the word love

17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Insert your name or someone else’s name as a prayer of blessing that you/they would know the unconditional love of God and place their trust in Jesus as their Leader and Forgiver (Lord and Savior).

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen ___________. Fill ___________’s soul with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in his/her heart. May love be the rich soil where ________’s life takes root. May it be the bedrock where ___________’s life is founded, so that together with all of Your people, he/she will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God may Your fullness flood through __________’s entire being. Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus the Anointed from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen.

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Woman of Samaria (Woman at the Well) Sermon © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

 

There’s More to Life Nicodemus (John 3.1-17)

Nicodemus coming to christ

Nicodemus Coming to Christ by Henry Ossawa Tanner 

Sermon Series: There’s More to Life
Message 1 of 5: Nicodemus

Scripture: John 3:1-17
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 3/24/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

It would make sense that you get to a point where you’ve been studying and training in something and you feel you don’t need a coach or teacher anymore. You have mastered the topic or skill.

But the truth is we always need teachers, mentors, and coaches. I have a masters of divinity, but I in no way have mastered divinity.

Who pastors the pastor? I have a spiritual director named Pam. A spiritual director is different from a counselor or teacher. A spiritual director asks, “How is your soul?” and then recommends spiritual practices to keep me connected to God and spiritually healthy.

In January, Pam reminded me of this promise: The fullness of Christ is ours. What would it be like to continue to ask for more and more? There’s always more!

That took us to Ephesians 3:16-21. This Lent, we’re using this beautiful prayer to pray for the fullness of Christ to be made real in the lives of others. (individuals or groups of people)

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen ___________. Fill ___________’s soul with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in his/her heart. May love be the rich soil where ________’s life takes root. May it be the bedrock where ___________’s life is founded, so that together with all of Your people, he/she will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God may Your fullness flood through __________’s entire being. Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus the Anointed from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen.

The theme of power is repeated 3 times in this prayer:                 

  • Power for strength
  • Power to know Christ and understand the depth of his infinite love
  • Power at work in us to do awe-inspiring things

This is what I long for, what I’m seeking, more and more of the Spirit, Savior, and the Father. Maybe you do, too. Would you pray this prayer for me sometime this Lenten season? I know I can’t receive the infinite gifts of God in my own strength. What would it be like for you to walk up to someone and say, “Would you insert my name this week in the prayer?” Anyone would be delighted to do that for you.

Nicodemus was longing for and seeking this as well. He appears 3 times in the Gospel of John. The beginning of Jesus’ ministry, in the middle defending Jesus, and at Jesus’ burial. A person who grows in his faith and the infinite love of God.

John 3:1-2, Nicodemus is introduced 

Pharisee- literally “Separated One”

  • Separated himself out for God, distinguished himself, by strict discipline in the study of God’s Word and applying the lessons of the Scriptures through rituals that he might lead a pure, holy, clean life
  • No separation between what he does for a living and who he is as a follower of the One True Living God, integrated life
  • Seeker of truth, Seeker of God, dedicated his entire life to this
  • Rabbi, Teacher of Israel, maybe even THE teacher
  • Pharisee of Pharisees
  • One of the best minds in Israel and it has served him well as he rose to an elite position
  • We don’t know if he was born into a family of advantage or if he worked his way up to his position of power, influence, respect, prosperity, security

Member of the Sanhedrin – the Great Sanhedrin of 71 judges in Jerusalem, the ruling council of all Israel

Nic at Night

  • Did Nicodemus come on his own to see Jesus?
  • Did the Sanhedrin send him in an official capacity?
    • “We know you are a teacher who has come from God”
    • They heard of the miracles
    • They heard his teaching
    • Turned over the tables in the temple
    • Sanhedrin sends Nicodemus, their brightest, best, most respected to check out Jesus
    • Root out people pretending to be the Messiah to maintain the fragile peace with Rome
    • Go at night. This is how the Sanhedrin does things, sneaky things – under the cover of darkness. Don’t go in the daytime, it might legitimize Jesus.

He’s come to find out who Jesus is- and Jesus tells him. But Jesus is also going to tell Nicodemus about Nicodemus. Jesus is going to look into his soul and see his seeking and trying and how it’s falling short. Nicodemus, there is more. Nicodemus, even after all you have earned, learned and achieved there is more.

Quote from Moments with the Savior by Ken Gire A lifetime of studying and teaching the word, and now Nicodemus is face to face with the Word incarnate. He comes in darkness, now he stands in the glowing presence of the Light of the World.

Reading John 3:1-10

If religious training were enough then Nicodemus would have all he needs for the fullness of God. If self-discipline were enough… If power and position were enough…

How many times do we strive after the things of God like Nicodemus? We pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and put on our big girl pants and we stand and we learn, learn, learn and practice, practice, practice.

Jesus says you can’t have the Kingdom of God in your own strength. There is more and it is available to you.

Nicodemus is baffled because this is what he thought would work and it hasn’t. It won’t. He’s baffled to find what does work in this poor, homeless, uncredentialed rabbi from nowhere.

Imagine yourself listening to Jesus alongside Nicodemus.

  • The cool of the night, the quiet of no modern noises, wind
  • Where are you? In old Jerusalem? On the Mount of Olives?
  • You must be born from above. You must be born again. You must be born of water and Spirit.
  • Sence of openness and delight and invitation.
  • Come, sit at my feet. Let me be your rabbi, your master. Come, let me be your Messiah, Savior. You do not need to strive this way to save yourself.
  • Come and know me, and know true power- the life-transforming power of the Spirit
  • Come and know me, and receive the power to understand that God’s divine love is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced
  • Come and know me for I am Love

John 3:16-17 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

The life of a Pharisee was a life of struggle and condemnation. Jesus was offering Nicodemus life. Just as Jesus is offering us life. ‘

You must be born from above. You must be born again. You must be born of water and Spirit.

Many of us do not remember our baptism. We were carried into the arms of the church by a loved one. Baptism is always about recognizing God’s grace more than recognizing our work.

But there must be many moments, when we say, “Yes, I’ve been born of water. I’ve been named and claimed by God in my baptism. But God I desire to be born of Spirit as well. Your holy presence alive in me, awakening me, saving me from me trying to save myself.”

Invitation to be baptized for the first time or reaffirm your baptism and to ask God to be born of water and Spirit. 

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Nicodemus Sermon © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon based on How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (Psalm 37)

sermon series dr seuss 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: The Gospel of Dr. Seuss
Message 6 of 6: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Scripture: Psalm 37:1, 5
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 3/3/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Intro

  • 36 folks from several difference congregations leave tomorrow for the Holy Land
  • Won’t be with you as we continue to process the decisions of General Conference
  • Won’t be with you for the beginning of Lent. Ash Wednesday is this Wednesday.

Ashes seem to be exactly what we need right now. 
Traditional Prayer consecrating the ashes before imposition: 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.

Ashes of mourning  
Ashes were used in mourning sin and mourning loss.

So many feelings following General Conference. Some are relieved by the decisions at General Conference. Some are rejoicing. Some are mad. Some are wondering or in a place of confusion. Some are full of sorrow- grieving, disillusioned, that harm has been done, hurt, wondering if there is a place for them or their loved ones in the United Methodist Church.

Yes, there is a place for you here at Trinity and the UMC! Please read the information we’re providing. Please stay. Please come and speak to me when I return.

Ashes of humility  
What you hear when you receive ashes on your forehead: Remember you are dust and to dust, you shall return. Repent and believe the gospel.

Right now my Facebook feed is a mess. There’s a whole bunch of folks telling a whole bunch of other folks I’m right and you’re wrong. It is ugly. It is not of God. We need these ashes to remind us of our need for humility. It’s the only way we’ll move forward.

We’re all hummus (dirt). We’re all human. Hummus, human, humility. All those words are tied together. All of us are in need of Jesus’s grace and forgiveness and love and belonging and hope.

The ashes remind us of sorrow, humility, and mortality. Remember you are dust. This life is short and precious. The ashes also remind us there is life.

Ashes of life   
Remember you are dust also reminds us of God breathing life into dust at creation. It is a good gift of God.

So many of us think of Lent as a season of sorrow, wilderness, repentance, giving up stuff (make fun of all of it). Lent is ultimately a season of transformation, new life.

grinch 1Reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.    

The Grinch isn’t just sour or mean. The Grinch does harm

Why does the Grinch change?
The Grinch literally repents. The Grinch turns and heads down to the Who’s and down to a new life.

How do people change? Change does not come by fear, facts, or force. Change doesn’t come by legislation or law. Change comes by love.

  • The Grinch sees the Who’s love of one another
  • He sees and hears their gratitude and worship
  • Then he experiences their love, Even though he has done great harm, they welcome him into their community and to their table.

At the end of the story, the Grinch has

  • a new family
  • a new way of thinking and being
  • a new identity

This is the Good News of Jesus Christ. We see Jesus loving, healing, welcoming. The love of our Father overflowing in the flesh of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The love of the Father overflowing into the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Through his life, death and resurrection, that we too gain a new family, a new way of thinking and being, a new and transformed identity.

Grinch collageThe evil one loves to keep us distracted and divided. (noise, noise, noise, noise!)

Today again I am choosing the way of Jesus, the way of love. I invite you to do the same.

  • Recommit to loving those who agree with me and those disagree with me. Will you do the same?
  • Recommit to praying for those who choose persecution and harm over love. Will you do the same?

Prayer: Lord, make me an instrument of your truth and grace. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may love as radically as you do, especially when all I want to do is grieve, or run, or demonize, or lash out.

Psalm 37:1, 5
Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrongdoers. Commit your way to the Holy One; trust in God, and God will act.

Quote: Steve Garnaas Holmes
Beware the temptation to outdo an evil one, to beat the wicked at their own game. The saint does not resist the devil by becoming a more devout devil. Your compass is set to a different star. Don’t let them turn you. Set your heart on compassion, even when facing a wrongdoer: it will make whatever game they are playing a different game. Let the Crucified One play your [role]; it will change the meaning of the [game]. You needn’t pump up the power of God. Trust love to do what you cannot.

The beautiful thing about How the Grinch Stole Christmas, is about how the Who’s welcome him to their table. In the United Methodist Church, we have an open table- You do not need to Methodist, a member of this church, you do not need to be a certain age. Nothing can keep you from this table.

It is Christ our Lord who welcomes us to this table and welcomes all.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas Sermon © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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Full Full Nets, a prayer based Jesus Calling the Disciples (Mark 1)

80_1cast_your_netMark 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.

Jesus,
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
Immediately
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

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Full, full nets © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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Your Healing Hands, a prayer based on Matthew 4

healing hand lightMatthew 4:12-17, 23-25
Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.’

From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

Jesus, Resurrected One
Light of New Life
Breaker of Chains
Bringer of Grace and Hope

You are moving, speaking, inviting
We hear your call to repentance, the turning will save us
We hear your Good News, the trusting will save us

We place every need into your healing hands
our loved ones, our enemies, ourselves
our work, our congregations, our denomination
our community, our nation, our world
our hopes, our security, our failures, our future

We place every need into your healing hands
We will find rest and wholeness there
Hallelujah, Glory to your Holy Name

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Your Healing Hands © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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