Face Mask Blessing

corona face mask blessing

A friend is coordinating efforts to make face masks for medical professionals and other front line workers in our area. She asked for a blessing to accompany each face mask. ⁠

This is what came to me. May it be a blessing for all our heroes. ⁠

May you be strengthened to serve with honor, wisdom, and compassion.
May you be protected from hardheartedness, despair, and disease.
May you bring healing to many and find the healing you need yourself.

Please receive this blessing and small token with our enduring thanks for your heroic service to our community. We recognize and honor your sacrifice for the greater good. Your friends at Trinity Sarasota. (www.iTrinity.org)

Do you sew? If so, would you consider making face masks? Here’s a tutorial from Button Counter.

If you live in Sarasota, I have a way to get them to the heroes at Sarasota Memorial. Contact me and we’ll coordinate a drop-off. Stay well, dear ones. – Lisa <><

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Face Mask Blessing © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
(by Lisa Degrenia, http://www.revlisad.com). Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Now Offering Online Devotions

Greetings, dear ones.

I’m doing my best to get creative so we can stay connected during our time of social distancing and quarantine. It’s hard because of the steep technology learning curve. (I refer to hard things as eating frogs!) It’s also exciting to conquer something new!

On Wednesdays, I’m offering a scripture reflection and prayer time via Facebook Live on our congregation’s Facebook Page. Join us at 8:00 am Eastern time or watch the video when it’s a good time for you.

This morning, we reflected on Psalm 27. Boy, did I need these hope-full reminders from God’s word.

On Wednesdays, I’m also offering an evening check-in time of reflection at 7:00pm Eastern time, again via Facebook Live on our congregation’s Facebook Page.
https://www.facebook.com/TrinityUMCSarasota/ 

For you folks who are into churchy words- Wednesday mornings are a type of Lectio Divina and Wednesday nights are a type of Examen. Both are very friendly to folks new to these practices.

We’re also offering worship on Facebook Live Sunday mornings at 9:00am and 10:30am.

PS- You can hear me struggling with the music on today’s recording. If you have any suggestions on a better way to provide music for these gatherings, please pass it along. The suggestion needs to honor copyright laws, such as using pre-recorded music. We do have a CCLI license.

Be safe. Be encouraged. Be hope-full. – Lisa <><

Stay Connected

 

Social Distancing, Community, and Five Barley Loaves (John 6)

Sermon Series Bread 1110 x 624Lenten Sermon Series: Bread
This sermon series was inspired by the book Taste and See: Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers, and Fresh Food Makers by Margaret Feinberg.

Message 3 of 5: Five Barley Loaves- Community and Social Distancing
Scriptures: John 6:1-15
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 3/15/2020 via Facebook Live for Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of me leading worship from my home office, including the message which starts at the 26-minute mark.

The Feeding of the 5000 is one of the few stories mentioned in all four gospels- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The story of Jesus’ resurrection is in all four gospels. This story is that important.

John 6:1-15    
1 Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.

The Sea of Galilee is actually a lake. You can see the other side of the lake no matter where you’re standing. It goes by many names in the Gospels, so if you’re confused, no worries. It’s confusing.

2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.

In the previous messages, we’ve spoken about the Passover- freedom from slavery in Egypt, unleavened bread (Matzo), manna in the wilderness- so this may seem familiar.

5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus always knows what he’s going to do!

7 Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” 10 Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.

This time of year, in March before the Passover, Galilee is beautiful. It’s lush with green with grass. There are yellow and red wildflowers. You can imagine the sheep grazing in the grass. Jesus is gathering the people like flocks of sheep in order to feed them.

11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.

14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Last Wednesday feels like the tipping point in the pandemic

  • A little before 9:00 pm: Tom Hanks posts on Instagram that he and his wife contracted COVID-19
  • At 9:00 pm: President Trump announces a ban on foreign nationals traveling to the US from much of Europe
  • At 9:46 pm: The NBA announces it had suspended all games indefinitely

And the hits just kept on coming. All our common rituals and rhythms disrupted.

  • The NCAA March Madness Tournament- Cancelled
  • The Boston Marathon- Postponed
  • All the Smithsonian Museums and Broadway Shows and Disney World- Closed

Then the hits got closer to home.

  • Our schools closed which meant we were canceling all our church gatherings
  • No more access to assisted living facilities and nursing homes. We can’t see our dear ones who live there. Our faithful nursing home teams can no longer offer worship at Brookdale and Cabot Reserve.

I spoke with a friend in Seattle online. She said, “Greetings from Ground Zero.” Their schools are closed for at least 6 weeks.

That started me lamenting-

  • What about the kids who’s school is their safe place because their home or their neighborhood isn’t?
  • Are kids going hungry because they eat breakfast and lunch at school?
  • What about the parents who can’t afford to take time off work or pay for childcare?
  • What about folks who are forced to take time off and can’t afford it?

It just ripples. Imagine dropping a pebble in a calm pool and watching the rings as they expand.

The world is having this big ah-ha moment on how interconnected we are, how interdependent we are on one another. We’re having it. I’m having it. 

I was watching something on TV last week which was filmed a while ago. There was this big crowd of people laughing and enjoying being together. Then they started hugging and holding on to one another. I literally gasped. They were touching.

I’m missing touching. Will we ever be like that again or will social distancing and elbow bumps be our new norm?

Big things matter- Pandemics, Global Markets, Vaccines

Little things matter- Gathering for worship, having a face to face conversation, handshakes, and hugs

They matter because community matters.- It’s little, as intimate as a touch. But it’s also big- big as the world.

Community is tied to the word common. Common is usual, ordinary. The common good, common ground, the customary blessing of having one another.

It is a good gift from God. We as Christians believe God is One, and yet God is three. God is community. It’s in the fabric of creation, of God, of us.

As we think about John 6, there are 50 sermons, 100 sermons. But all I can see today is the community. Five thousand people gathering. Where can we do that these days?

Jesus asks how they’re going to feed all the people. I’ve preached in the past about this young boy comes forward and generously offers his lunch. He isn’t offering his lunch. He’s offering the groceries for his family. Five barley loaves and two fish.

This child isn’t a solo heroic leader. He’s not saving the day in his rugged individualism. He represents an entire community. The work of a community feeds an entire community. taste and see

This sermon series is based on a fantastic book by Margaret Feinberg entitled Taste and See: Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers, and Fresh Food Makers.

I highly recommend it to you. Its foodies and recipes meet travelogue meets Bible study. She looks at the Bible through the food of the Bible. She’s the one who opened my eyes to the truth of the community it takes to bring a loaf of bread from seed to your table.

“In ancient Israel, the whole family shared the hard labor. The work began in a field, plowing the soil and planting last year’s kernels. Together, the family tended the field and prayed away famine and pests, in hope the stalks would sprout, lengthen, and yield a bounty of food.

The family endured sunburn and sweat, aching muscles and strained backs, to harvest the grain with sickles. When the yield was at hand, the work had just begun. Then they must pound and winnow (blow air) through the grain to remove the outer husk. Those who couldn’t afford access to a mill used their own mortar and pestle to grind their grain.

Since the harvest had to carry the family through an entire year, only a small scoop of the flour was mixed with water and kneaded in a bread trough, while the bulk of the flour was safely stored away. The dough was then taken to the oven—but not a family oven. Most families couldn’t afford their own stove. Instead, they used a communal oven.”

Community. Communal. Common. That’s what we need right now.

coronavirus vulnerable high riskSomeone asked if we were canceling church events because we were afraid. It’s a reasonable question. There are many folks who are afraid right now. I recognize that truth. It’s a reasonable fear about a very dangerous virus, especially if you’re in a high-risk portion of the population.

The reason we canceled all our church events is not because we’re afraid. We’re canceling because we care. We’re willing to disrupt our lives, learn new things, and do things in a different way because we believe it will save lives.

What you are doing is not a small thing. You are saving lives.

We believe in a Mighty God and we pray mighty prayers. We believe we should love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. But there’s an and to that. And we should love your neighbor as yourself. Social distancing is faith and action.

John Wesley’s priorities are summarized this way-
Do No Harm
Do Good
Stay in Love with God

Brainstorm: How can we build and bless our community in this time of social distancing? You’ve got cell phones, computers, Instagram, and Facebook. Be creative.

I challenge you right now to call five friends just to check-in. “I’m thinking about you. I’m praying for you. You’re not alone.” If you’re tech-savvy, make it a video call.

Just like this little child, like the disciples, our job is to do our part and to remember our part is part of a greater whole. Give of your resources and give of yourself without embarrassment, worry, or shame. Give generously. Give joyfully.

We give what we have no matter how small it may seem trusting Jesus to bless it and multiply it for the common good, for the community.

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Social Distancing, Community, and Five Barley Loaves © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Praying for the Pandemic (Matthew 8)

Fasting Prayer graphic

How are you doing, dear one? Really, how are you?

A friend said our situation reminded her of the polio epidemic. She told stories of the precautions and the fears and those she knew who got sick.

I have nothing to compare this to. Over and over again I find myself saying, “We’ve never been through this before.”

Folks are working so hard. There’s wonderful information on steps to take to keep yourself and others safe. Please be wise and compassionate and wash those hands!

Below are some suggestions for how to pray. That’s how I process stuff that feels big. I write prayers and pass them along hoping they’ll be helpful. ⁠

There’s, of course, no one way to pray or the right way to pray. I’m offering a way to pray using a passage of scripture as a guide. It’s a rich, long-standing practice that’s broadened both the content and language of my prayers. It also keeps me grounded in God’s character and promises.

I find this prayer practice especially helpful in times of great need, as we are in right now. I hope it is helpful for you. 

Matthew 8 found me Thursday morning as I was using the Lenten Bible Reading Plan. In this one chapter, there are five diverse stories of Jesus’ healing power. I chose this passage (or it chose me) to guide the prayer. ⁠

Let’s use this passage to guide our prayers today. Leave a comment below with other scriptures which would be helpful to guide our prayers.

Keep praying dear ones. Prayer is doing something. The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective. – Lisa <

Jesus, we see you healing the leper (Matthew 8:1-4). Hear our prayer
For the quarantined
The stranded
The vulnerable
Those feeling isolated
And those being treated as diseased outcasts
End the prejudice and mistreatment
Make us one in you
Lord, hear our prayer

Jesus, we hear the Centurion and see you healing the paralyzed servant (Matthew 8:5-13). Hear our prayer
For those feeling paralyzed
by fear
by uncertainty
by the markets

For business owners and all unable to work
For students and educators as schools close
For congregations unable to gather
Lord, hear our prayer

Jesus, hear our prayer
For those, like the Centurion, risking much to help others
Medical professionals and researchers
Health Departments, the CDC, and the WHO
Cleaning crews
First responders
Those who work in assisted living facilities and nursing homes

Like the Centurion, grant us all great faith
And the strength to ask for help
Lord, hear our prayer

Jesus, we see you healing Peter’s mother-in-law, bedridden with a fever (Matthew 8:14-17). Hear our prayer
For equal access to testing and treatment
For virus carriers and authorities to make wise choices
For an end to this pandemic

Heal all who are sick with the virus and those who will become sick
Raise them from their sickbeds to bless their homes and communities
Lord, hear our prayer

Jesus, we see you crossing to the other side to heal the Gadarene Demoniacs (Matthew 8:28-34).
Deliver us from evil, Jesus
End its destructive influence
Turn the hearts of all who use this pandemic for selfish gain

Deliver us from panic, Jesus
Help all who are struggling with their mental health
All who’s souls are screaming
We welcome your presence and peace
Lord, hear our prayer

Jesus, we see you calm the storm (Matthew 8:23-27)
The situation is beyond us, Jesus
It feels out of control and dangerous
We are swamped
We are perishing

Save us, Jesus
The waves of news and need overwhelm us
But not you
You calm the storm
You bring good out of this great need
You hear our prayer
Glory to your Holy Name. Amen.

Be sure to also check out Sarah Bessey’s Breath Prayers for Anxious Times. Grounded in scripture. Centering. Honest. 

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Praying for the Pandemic © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
(by Lisa Degrenia, http://www.revlisad.com). Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.