A Prayer for Veterans

800px-Korean_War_Veterans_Memorial_-_July_2012

Korean War Veterans Memorial, photo by Agamitsudo via Wikimedia Commons

Let us pause to honor, thank, and remember all who served in the military, living or dead.

Speak the names of veterans you know, including yourself if you served in the military.⁠⁠

Jesus, we hear your words, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13, NRSV)⁠

Jesus, we are grateful for those who are like you, those who sacrifice and serve for a greater good. Strengthen all we have mentioned and thousands more who put the welfare of others ahead of their own safety.⁠

Help all military personnel to serve with honor, wisdom, and compassion. Guard them against hard-heartedness, despair, and evil. ⁠

Bring help and healing to all who still struggle in body and mind because of what they have experienced.⁠

Strengthen and bless military families, especially when they are separated one from another. Console and comfort military families, especially those who continue to grieve loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice. ⁠

Surround us all with your protection. Fill us all with your grace. Lead us all with your truth and light.

Micah 4:1-4 NRSV
In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills. Peoples shall stream to it, and many nations shall come and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

God of All, it is your will for the nations to seek you and to know you.
It is your will for us to live together in peace, provision, and equity.

End the selfishness.
End the mistrust and misinformation.
End the violence.

Bring wholeness and hope to every system, relationship, and person broken by war.

Empower us all to pray and work for your promised peace.
Give us the courage to act and your wisdom to know what to do.

We ask this in the strong name of Jesus
Our Savior, our Lord
The Prince of Peace
Who taught us to pray…

Conclude with the Lord’s Prayer

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

A Prayer for Storm Survivors

Jesus Calms the Storm by the Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey

Jesus Calms the Storm by the Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey

The knowledge that we are never alone calms the troubled sea of our lives and speaks peace to our souls. – A. W. Tozer

I am grateful Taylor Burton-Edwards for making excellent suggestions to improve this prayer.

A Prayer for Storm Survivors
Jesus, we see you calming storms-
storm-tossed seas and stormy lives.
Extend your power and grace again,
especially upon these most recent storm victims.

Speak peace and healing over bodies and spirits broken by the chaos.
Jesus, speak peace. Silence

Speak peace and hope over families and communities devastated by sudden loss.
Jesus, speak peace. Silence

Speak peace and unity over diverse groups of people
bring them together for greater provision,
just distribution, and effective rebuilding.
Jesus, speak peace. Silence

Speak peace and protection over rescue workers
as they reach out to those who are suffering.
Jesus, speak peace. Silence

Speak to us, moving our prayer to action⠀
Jesus, speak, we are listening. Silence

You are the Prince of Peace.
You are the Resurrection and the Life.
You are strong to save.
Our hope and trust are in you. Amen.

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A Prayer for Storm Survivors © updated 2019, Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please leave a comment below for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Belonging (Ephesians 2)

All week long we wrote Belong on each other’s palms. We wrote on our fingers, too. Needed and Loved. Safe, Understood, and Purpose.

We wrote it because they’re our deepest longings. Every single one of them in every single one of us.

We wrote it because we wanted to hold on to their truth and each other and the One who would help us find them.

You can hold on, too, with us and with Him. You belong.

Ephesians 2:13-18
Now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh, he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Jesus
You are our peace

You proclaim it
You create it
You bring us near

Without you there is
No safety
No belonging
No nurturing
No identity rooted beyond this dust

Without you we are
Anchorless
Strangers, Aliens
Outsiders, Outcasts, Orphaned

Our need is so deep, so desperate
So beyond us
It took flesh, your flesh to make peace
Your torture puts hostility to death
Your broken body breaks down every dividing wall
Your blood makes us blood

What wondrous truth
What dazzling grace

Bring us near again, Jesus
Help us remember and re-member
Make us one in your generous, fierce love

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This reflection came from a week leading middle school worship at the Warren W Willis United Methodist Summer Camp in Fruitland Park, Florida.

It feels especially needed given the hate and division being promoted in our country.

Should you ever want a gentle ear to listen, or a gentle heart to pray, I would be honored to be that for you.

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

Independence Day Prayer for Unity (Psalm 133)

Psalm 133 Ben Shahn

Psalm 133 by Ben Shahn

Psalm 133
How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing,
life forevermore.

On this Independence Day, I long for our neighborhoods and nation to experience the freedom of this psalm- the freedom of true unity. I long for the dividing walls to come crashing down. I long for an end to destructive division.

In this Psalm, the goodness of God-breathed unity is compared to the anointing of Aaron as high priest and dew on the mountains of Hermon and Zion in Israel.

True unity is precious, like sacred, costly oil or a trusted source of water in the wilderness.

True unity brings abundant blessing to an entire community. It is generous and lavish. There is so much oil it runs down Aaron’s beard and on to his robe. There is so much dew it can sustain plants, animals, and people on a mountainside.

True unity means goodness for all. It is pervasive, crossing unjust boundaries. The anointing oil is mixed with spices so the aroma pervades the gathering. The dew makes way for fragrant flowers, fruits, and crops which are enjoyed by the whole community.

True unity is holy and unique. The oil is set apart for the ritual anointing of a priest or king. It is used for no other purpose. Mount Hermon is set apart for its height and snow, the highest point in the region at over 9,000 feet. Mount Zion near Jerusalem is set apart for the worship of God. True unity sets a group of people apart, a rare and beautiful light in our world.

Holy God
One yet Three
Reach into the abundance of your companionship
Bring forth unity and healing in our land
Pour out peace on violent homes and hearts
Shower compassion on selfish and short-sighted motives
Rain down generosity and understanding
so all are covered in blessing and harmony and life
Forevermore
Forevermore
Amen

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Independence Day Prayer for Unity © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Our Peace (Ephesians 2)

people crossEphesians 2:13-18
Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Jesus
You are our peace

You proclaim it
You create it
You bring us near

Without you there is
No safety
No belonging
No nurturing
No identity rooted beyond this dust

Without you we are
Anchorless
Strangers, Aliens
Outsiders, Outcasts, Orphaned

Our need is so deep, so desperate
So beyond us
It took flesh, your flesh to make peace
Your torture puts hostility to death
Your broken body breaks down every dividing wall
Your blood makes us blood

What wondrous truth
What dazzling grace

Bring us near again, Jesus
Help us remember and re-member
Make us one in your generous, fierce love

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This prayer was born from the Ephesians Reading Challenge. Click Here for more information on the challenge to read and reflect on the entire book of Ephesians 3 times in 3 weeks. 

The Ephesians Reading Challenge accompanied a sermon series entitled Sit Walk Stand which was inspired by Watchman Nee‘s book Sit Walk Stand, a study of Ephesians. You will find recordings and notes from this series on the blog as well.

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

Prayers Remembering Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day

memorial day military graveIntroduction
READER ONE:
We gather this Memorial Weekend with persons all over our nation to remember those who make great sacrifices in service to their country and to pray for God’s promised peace.

READER TWO:
The 3rd Saturday of May is Armed Forces Day. It is set aside to honor men and women who currently serve in the United States Military. While we remember them throughout the year, we will especially remember them today.

READER ONE:
The last Monday in May is Memorial Day. It is set aside to honor military service members who died while serving in the military. It was first called Decoration Day because graves were decorated with flowers and flags. It was changed to Memorial Day to put the emphasis on the fallen, not the graves. We will also remember them today.

READER TWO:
November 11th is Veterans Day. It is set aside to honor all who served in the military, living or dead. We will set aside time in November to honor them, thank them, and remember them.

Memorial Prayer
READER ONE:
Jesus, we hear your words, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13 NRSV)

READER TWO:
Please turn to the list in your program as we honor those who are currently serving as active duty military or as reservists.

Read the list

If you know of anyone else currently serving in the Armed Forces, please speak their names now that we may honor and bless them as well.

Pause as persons respond

PASTOR:
Almighty God, we are grateful for those who are willing to sacrifice and to serve. Strengthen the men and women mentioned here today and all who risk their lives to protect others. Help all military personnel to serve with honor, wisdom, and compassion. Guard them against hard-heartedness, despair, and evil. Strengthen and bless their families, especially when they are separated one from another. Surround them with your protection, your grace, and your peace.

A person enters with a large, lit, white candle. If possible, consider using a service member in uniform.

PASTOR:
Let us pause for a moment of silence as we remember and honor those who died while serving their country in the armed forces.

Moment of Silence

PASTOR:
Merciful God, we recognize those who made the ultimate sacrifice, putting the welfare of others ahead of their own safety. We are grateful and humbled by their actions. Strengthen and comfort their friends and family members as they remember and grieve. Amen

READER ONE: Micah 4:1-4 NRSV
Hear these words of promise and hope from the prophet Micah.
In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills. Peoples shall stream to it, and many nations shall come and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

ALL:
God of Love, it is your will for the nations to seek you and to know you.
It is your will for us live together in peace, provision, and equity.
Forgive us our warring ways.
End the selfishness and corruption.
End the mistrust and misinformation.
End the violence.
Bring wholeness and hope to every system, relationship, and person broken by war.
Show us where we can join you in your great work of peace.
Give us the courage to act and your wisdom to know what to do.
We ask this in the strong name of Jesus
The Savior of the World,
The Lord of All,
The Prince of Peace…

Conclude singing Let There Be Peace on Earth

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Prayers Remembering Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day
© 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon Recording: Helping Things Go Right (1 Samuel 24.8-22)

Sermon Series pursuing peace 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Pursuing Peace
Message 4 of 4: Helping Things Go Right
Scripture: 1 Samuel 24:8-22
These are the notes from a message offered 10/7/18, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. This is the last post in the series. I pray they’ve empowered and inspired you to be a peacemaker.

Psalm 34:14  Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

Can you have a heart of peace in the midst of violence?

  • Can a soldier have a heart of peace? War is part of the job
  • Can a survivor of violence have a heart of peace toward their attacker? It’s complicated. There are issues of safety and justice.
  • The short answer is “yes.” David shows us it’s possible. Here’s the way he did it.

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DAVID AND KING SAUL

  • After David killed Goliath, King Saul puts him in charge of his army.
  • David wins many battles, and he becomes well known and popular
  • Whenever David comes home from war, the women would come out dancing and singing: “Saul has struck down thousands, and David has struck down tens of thousands!”

If King Saul had a heart of peace how would he respond when he heard this?

  • Celebrate along with the others
  • Praise God for sending a person with such bravery, faith, and skill

But, King Saul has a heart of war

  • Furious, suspicious, jealous of David. So jealous he wants David dead.

A Heart of War puts us in the box. We are imprisoned by our wounds and sinful desires.              

  • I’m better than David, I’m the anointed king
  • Maybe I’m actually worse than David. Is he a better leader? A better warrior? More beloved of God?
  • But, I deserve to be honored more than David. I’m the king.
  • And it’s important that I’m seen as the one in charge. I must be seen as the king.

As a result of his heart of war, 

  • King Saul is more and more troubled in his mind and spirit so David would be summoned to play his harp to soothe the king. One day while David was playing the harp for King Saul, the king hurls his spear at him. David dodges it just in time, and the spear shot into the wall. Saul throws another spear; David dodges that one, too
  • King Saul sends David again and again into incredibly dangerous battle situations. David is victorious.
  • King Saul then starts sending people to kill David
  • In 2 chapters, 1 Samuel 18 and 19, Saul tries to kill David 12 times. David runs away and hides in the desert
  • Finally, King Saul decides to go after David himself, taking 3000 men with him.

They come across a cave, so King Saul dismounts and heads into the cave to relieve himself (verse 3, yes it means what you think it means). What the king doesn’t know is that David and his men are sitting deeper in the cave

David’s men start encouraging David to kill the king. Then they volunteer to kill the king for David.

Here’s what David does

  • He sneaks up behind the king and cuts off a corner of his cloak lets him leave unharmed.
  • Then David scolds his men for wanting to attack the king. David has a heart of peace.

I Samuel 24:8 Afterwards, David also rose up and went out of the cave and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance.

  • David initiates a conversation rather than letting Saul just leave
  • David approaches with no weapon and bows exposing his neck to the king
  • David shows respect for Saul’s position as King and respect for him as a human being.

1 Samuel 24:9 David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of those who say, ‘David seeks to do you harm’? 10 This very day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you into my hand in the cave, and some urged me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not raise my hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed.’

  • We have the power to choose how we respond. We call on the Holy Spirit to help us choose well. David was a man after God’s heart, consistently seeking God’s strength and guidance.
  • David chooses to break the cycle of conflict. The war stops with me.

1 Samuel 24:11 See, my father, see the corner of your cloak in my hand; for by the fact that I cut off the corner of your cloak, and did not kill you, you may know for certain that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you are hunting me to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between me and you! May the Lord avenge me on you, but my hand shall not be against you. 13 As the ancient proverb says, ‘Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness’; but my hand shall not be against you. 14 Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A single flea? 15 May the Lord, therefore, be judge and give sentence between me and you. May he see to it, and plead my cause, and vindicate me against you.”

  • David reminds Saul of their relationship- Saul had been like a Father to David. Saul’s son Jonathan was David’s best friend. David was married to Saul’s daughter Michal.
  • Another reminder of relationship- Saul is a powerful king and David is his loyal servant (a dead dog, a flea).

The Peacemaking Pyramid from The Anatomy of Peace

The Peacemaking Pyramid from The Anatomy of Peace

David reminds us how to help things go right. He starts by cultivating his own heart of peace. He builds a relationship and reminds Saul of their relationship professionally and personally. It’s not hard to imagine David listening to Saul poor out his anguish as he played the harp for him. This built empathy within David for Saul. David communicates with Saul when he didn’t have to. David speaks the truth about how his actions show he is not at war with Saul.

Jesus does the same. Come to us with a heart of peace. Reaching out to us to establish and build a relationship. Jesus understands our deepest dreams, needs, pains, and hope. Jesus listens and empathizes. Jesus is compassionate toward us. Jesus communicates with us, revealing the truth of who he is and who we are and who we can be when we are reconciled to one another.

1 Samuel 24:16-22
16 When David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 17 He said to David, “You are more righteous than I; for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. 18 Today you have explained how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lord put me into your hands. 19 For who has ever found an enemy, and sent the enemy safely away? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. 20 Now I know that you shall surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. 21 Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not wipe out my name from my father’s house.” 22 So David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Mark 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 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.