Parable of the Talents: Fearless or Fearful? (Matthew 25.14-30)

Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25:14-30

John of the Cross wrote that “In the evening of life we will be judged on love alone.” The two servants, probably more experienced in loving, fearlessly invest their portions of love. Heedless of sheer foolhardiness, they risk ego, rejection, derision, even death, adventurously increasing the master’s wealth of love in the world. The last servant misses the point, and like sinning against the Holy Spirit (Mt. 12:32) the poor clueless man finds himself in the outer darkness for clinging to the supposed safety of burying his love in the ground. John Wesley comments, “So mere harmlessness, on which many build their hope of salvation, was the cause of his damnation.”
– Suzanne Guthrie, The Edge of the Enclosure

The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess him. He wants those who belong to him to be brave and fearless. He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the Spirit. This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular of the representative, administrating Spirit. A Christian is fearless. –Tertullian

Cowards die many times before their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but once.
– William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (II, ii, 32-37)

Only those who risk going too far will ever know how far they can go.
– T.S. Eliot

Whatever you do you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you into believing your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories but it takes brave men and women to win them. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Moving ahead requires us to face the present with its hardships and afflictions, knowing that these, too, are part of the way. To do this requires a measure of courage, that word formed from the Latin cor, or heart. In such circumstances, the challenge before us is not simply to avoid losing our heart. Rather, it is that of finding our heart, of living “heartfully.” – Mark S. Burrows and John H. Ohlson, Love is a Direction from Weavings, Aug/Sept/Oct 2012

Click here and here and here for three thoughtful reflections on this passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes

Zephaniah 1:12
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, “The Lord will not do good, nor will he do harm.”

Philippians 4:13 (NRSV)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Dear God,
I am so afraid to open my clenched fists!
Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to?
Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands?
Please help me to gradually open my hands
… and to discover that I am not what I own,
but what you want to give me.
And what you want to give me is love,
unconditional, everlasting love. Amen.
– Henri Nouwen

******************
For more information on the use of the scripture translation, art and this resource in other settings, please leave a message in the comments.

A prayer for moving (Genesis 12)

Snoopy-movingJune and July are often months of moving, especially for United Methodist pastors who are appointed to new congregations. This prayer is for them and all who find themselves heading to new places. It’s based on Genesis 12:1-9.

The Lord God calls Abram (and Sarai)
Pack your things
Move your family
Travel far, to a place unfamiliar

He/She/They obey
Yes they are established
Yes it is difficult

He/She/They trust
and they keep praising the Lord God
as they move farther and farther into the unfamiliar

Help me to trust you as well
You do not call and abandoned
You are ahead of us on the journey
You are the journey- the way, the truth, the life
You guide and guard
You encourage and reassure and show signs
You and your way brings blessing for me, for my family, for the world

Deepen my trust
that I may be faithful in all things
and a blessing for the generations
Amen

********
A Prayer for Moving © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer: God, my strength (Psalm 59:17)

Psalm 59_17Psalm 59:17
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
For you, O God, are my Fortress,
The God who shows me steadfast love.

Holy One, you are my strength.

Your love for me and your grace toward me never wavers,
even when my faith and my obedience do
Forgive me my many failures to trust you

Teach me to rely on you
to seek you
to listen for you and follow through

Grow in me great truth
great grace
great hope
that I may share what has found me

In the sharing bring a great harvest of repentance and deliverance
In the sharing bring salvation and your kingdom come
In the sharing bring honor and praise to your name alone
Father… Son… Spirit…
Amen

**********
God, my Strength by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia © 2016
You are welcome to use this in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa directly for publishing and posting consideration.

Sermon Recording- Skin in the Game (Philippians 2:1-11)

philippians 2

Message: Skin in the Game
Scripture: Philippians 2:1-11
Offered 5/22/16 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

Statisticks Video

Worship Resources for this Message 
I. Prayer- Most Blessed, Most Beautiful
Most blessed, most beautiful Christ,
in you we receive all things

The receiving takes growth, so you give us guiding-
saints and sages and scripture
Thank you for the guiding

The receiving takes others, so you give us the world-
nature and neighbors and nations
Thank you for the world

The receiving takes change, so you give us seasons-
life and death and new life
Thank you for the seasons

The receiving takes time, so you give us time-
present and future and forever
Thank you for the time

Most blessed, most beautiful
You give us yourself
And in you, O Christ
We belong to you and to God and to all
Thank you for the giving

II. Scripture reading with sung response
ALL SINGING
Humble Thyself in the sight of the Lord by Bob Hudson (CCLI #26564)
Instrumental continues during scripture reading

ONE READING- Philippians 2:1-5
If then there is any encouragement in Christ,
any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit,
any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete:
be of the same mind, having the same love,
being in full accord and of one mind.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
Let each of you look not to your own interests,
but to the interests of others.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…

ALL SINGING
Humble Thyself in the sight of the Lord by Bob Hudson (CCLI #26564)
Instrumental continues during scripture reading

ONE READING- Philippians 2:5-8
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

ALL SINGING
Humble Thyself in the sight of the Lord by Bob Hudson (CCLI #26564)
Instrumental continues during scripture reading

ONE READING- Philippians 2:9-11
He humbled himself and became obedient
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

ALL SINGING
Humble Thyself in the sight of the Lord by Bob Hudson (CCLI #26564)
Instrumental continues during scripture reading

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

Prayer: As Our Brother Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25)

sunlight bedroom window2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 10 Reading: Matthew 1:18-25
Joseph’s Dream

Joseph, being a righteous man
– Matthew 1:19

Prayer: As Our Brother Joseph
Emmanuel
God with us
and for us
and in us

You are there when the plans and promises
detonate and disappear

You are there
in the confusion
the pain
the unexpected and unthinkable

You are there when the dream dies

Help us cling to you
as our brother Joseph did
who laid down the stones
to walk your quiet path

Dignity over publicity
Courage over convention
Solidarity over scorn

Speak in our sleep
Awaken us to
Righteousness
Obedience
Restraint

To trusting your ways
and you

***********
Click Here for a reflection on this same passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes

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: As Our Brother Joseph © 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.

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

Quotes: The Sign of the Cross

Statue honoring Elizabeth Ann Seton in New York City's St. Patrick's Cathedral. Seton was the first American to be named a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

Statue honoring Elizabeth Ann Seton in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Seton was the first American to be named a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

Galatians 2:19b-20 (NRSV)
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Three quotes from Elizabeth Ann Seaton
The bright and glorious cross which we now drag alone through the mud and dirt, how beautiful and lovely it will appear when we shall find that it opens the door of our eternal happiness for us. Follow on with courage!

If you find that there are any obstacles in your way — and doubtless you find many, as every Christian does, in the fulfillment of duty — still persevere with yet more earnestness, and rejoice to bear your share in the cross, which is our passport and seal to the kingdom of our Redeemer.

on making the sign of the cross for the first time: I was cold with the awful impression my first making it gave me — the sign of the cross of Christ on me! Deepest thoughts came with it of I know not what earnest desires to be closely united with Him who died on it. Oh, that last day when it is to be borne in triumph!

Prayer from the Sarum Primer (1538)
with motions in keeping with the spirit of the prayer
God be in my head and in my understanding
draw a small cross on your forehead with your finger
God be in my eyes and in my looking
draw a small cross next to one eye and then the other
God be in my mouth and in my speaking
draw a small cross on your lips
God be in my heart and in my thinking
draw a small cross over your heart
God be at my end and at my departing.
place both arms at your sides, palms facing front

Christian saints are often pictured gazing empathetically at the cross. Why? Because it is a soul-shattering image of the willing suffering of God in solidarity with every single “shedding of blood since the foundation of the world” (Luke 11:50). It is the only half-satisfying answer to the whole human tragedy. But it does not satisfy the rational mind, only the empty and seeking soul. After true gazing, the cross becomes a two-way mirror. We see our own suffering, the suffering of the world, and God’s suffering as all one and the same. – Richard Rohr

Jesus’ wounded body is an icon for what we are all doing to one another and to the world. Jesus’ resurrected body is an icon of God’s promise, response, and victory over these crucifixions. The two images contain the whole transformative message of the Gospel. – Richard Rohr

All God’s plans have the mark of the cross on them,
and all His plans have death to self in them.
– E. M. Bounds

The summation of the life of Jesus in the symbol and the sign of the cross is not meant so much as an act of “taking up” the cross, as it is of “taking the cross inside.” The direction of the sign of the cross is inward, which suggests embracing and internalizing the life of Jesus. Nevertheless, this inward direction suggests that, starting with the historical events of the life of Jesus, we live these events here and now, appropriating them outside time and space, as we become one with the timeless Christ.
Andreas Andreopoulos, The Sign of the Cross

Never leave your house without making the sign of the cross. It will be to you a staff, a weapon, an impregnable fortress. Neither man nor demon will dare to attack you, seeing you covered with such powerful armor. Let this sign teach you that you are a soldier, ready to combat against the demons, and ready to fight for the cross of justice. Are you ignorant of what the cross has done? It has vanquished death, destroyed sin, emptied hell, dethroned Satan, and restored the universe. Would you then doubt its power?
John Chrysostom

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

Photo Quotes: Luke 9, part 2

Luke 09 23Luke 09 24Luke 09 25Reading for the week of February 23: Luke 9
Click Here for more information on the #LukeActs2014 Reading Plan

I decided to pick a few verses from this week’s reading to memorize. Some of my artist friends illustrate verses in various mediums as part of their devotional time, so I thought I’d give that a try, too. I use PicMonkey, a free, online picture editor, and get a great deal out of spending this kind of time with scripture.