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.

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.

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9, John 14)

Jesus, The Coming MessiahJesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 12: The Messiah as Prince of Peace
Readings: Isaiah 9:1-7; John 14:27

Isaiah 9:6, The Voice
Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams, a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son is given to us: a living gift. And even now, with tiny features and dewy hair, He is great. The power of leadership, and the weight of authority, will rest on His shoulders. His name? His name we’ll know in many ways— He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing, Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace.

John 14:27, The Voice
Jesus said, “My peace is the legacy I leave to you. I don’t give gifts like those of this world. Do not let your heart be troubled or fearful.”

Quote from Helen Bruch Pearson in Do What You Have the Power to Do
Shalom, a Hebrew word for peace, means restoration of right relationships and a sense of well-being and serenity. When Jesus spoke words of shalom to those who were disenfranchised and disinherited by their society and religious community, it was far more than an everyday greeting. Jesus was bestowing on them a very real spiritual blessing and the restoration of right relationships. Shelem, a Hebrew word for physical, emotional, and spiritual wholeness, includes a person’s bodily health and well-being. Shalom and Shelem can never be experienced separately. Peace, right relations, wholeness, and health are intertwined. They do not exist for one person or one institution if they do not exist also for the benefit of all. No one stands upright as long as others remain bent over.

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
Our Wonderful Counselor
Listening with compassion
Revealing what is real

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Our Mighty God
Most powerful, most near, most good
Lighting a way bright with hope

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Our Prince of Peace
You do not give as the world gives
You understand our pain

We surrender our worries and pain to you

Offer your needs to God

We have asked, you will supply
We have made our needs and desires known
You will bring goodness and mercy
Your peace surpasses all need and understanding

Guard our hearts with your peace
Calm our minds with your peace
Fulfill your will with your peace

Silence 

Click here for a beautiful blessing by Steve Garnaas- Holmes entitled Peace I Give to You, based on Jesus’ promise of peace in John 14:27.

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Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible Reading Plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered? I look forward to your comments.

If you’re in Sarasota, please drop by Trinity United Methodist Church for one of our seasonal events or services or just to say, “Hi.” You’re always welcome and wanted.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <

The Messiah as Prince of Peace © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Peace, Be Still: Five Prayers Based on Mark 4:35-41

“Calming the Storm” by Jim Janknegt. Used with permission.

Mark 4:35-41 NRSV
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Prayer by Junius Dotson, The Africana Worship Book, Year B
You who are weary
Sleepless
Tired
Depressed
Discouraged

Do not be afraid!

You who are fed up
Hopeless
Visionless
Fearful
Tearful

Do not be afraid!

God is present in your suffering.
God will calm the winds and waves of your soul!

Prayer by Patricia Wilson, Quiet Spaces
Ever-present God, thank you for being here with me right now.
In the chaos of my life, I often forget that you are always with me,
always seeking to bring me peace. …

I feel overwhelmed, as if the world around me
is a heaving, crashing sea;
and I am adrift in a small boat,
unable to keep the waves from closing over me.

Only you can bring order out of this chaos.
Say the word, All-Powerful God,
and I know that the seas will be calmed,
and I will be safe.

Even as I say these words,
I can hear how foolish they are.

You, the God of my life, are also the God of order.

Bring order to my life, and in doing so,
take care of all those concerns that rise up
around me like storm waves.
Calm the seas of my busyness;
still the waters of my “doingness.”
Let me drift on the gentle swells of your love and care.

Prayer by Mark Dugger, devozine, November/December 2012
Peace. Be still. And the winds obeyed.
Be now as the winds.
You are my child.
I knew you long before you were knit in your mother’s womb.

Peace. Be still. My breath brings form to dust.
You were created a little lower than the angels,
created in my image.
You are my child. Peace. Be still.

Be as these winds, exhaled.
Wait on me, and I will give you rest.
The ninety-nine I would leave to find you.
The fall of a sparrow catches flight in my loving eye.

With my words, the worlds were.
My voice is small, still.
The waters know the sound of my voice and are stilled.
Wait on me, be renewed, and rise.

Calm the Storm in Me by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
The words in regular print are spoken by one voice.
The words in bold print are spoken by all.

When the waves rise high above our ability to see your face…
Still my soul, Lord Jesus,
Calm the storm in me

When the howling wind and the pouring rain drown out the sound of your voice…
Still my soul, Lord Jesus,
Calm the storm in me

When the thunder and the lightning distract us from Your presence in every circumstance…
Still my soul, Lord Jesus,
calm the storm in me

A Prayer for Storm Survivors by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
The words in regular print are spoken by one voice.
The words in bold print are spoken by all.

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
so they would come 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

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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Click Here for Prayer: In the Midst of the Storm, a longer prayer sequence using elements of A Prayer for Storm Survivors and Calm the Storm in Me plus optional sung responses.

For more wonderful, moving work by today’s featured artist, James B. Janknegt, click here. Please consider patronage of him and other artists.

For a reader’s theatre version Mark 4:35-41, click here

A Prayer for Storm Survivors © 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Calm the Storm in Me © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use these works in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish these works in any form.

Prayer: The Appearance of Peace (Luke 2:1-7)

baby jesus asleep hay2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 13 and 14 are set aside for worship and rest.
Day 15 Reading: Luke 2:1-7
Jesus is Born

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus
– Luke 2:1

Prayer: The Appearance of Peace
Lord, have mercy
Our earthly emperors
Decree away
Centurions and subjugation
Invasion and imperialism
Conquest and control
Worldly weapons bringing
an appearance of peace
Pax Romana

In the midst of the occupation
The forcing
The taking
A cry pierces the darkness
Bloodshed
Bearing
Breathing
Vernix and vulnerability
Homelessness and hay
Swaddling and skin

The appearance of Peace
Pax Aeternam
Glory to God!

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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: The Appearance of Peace © 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.

Prayer: Prince of Peace, Hear our Cry

Pāhoehoe lava meets Pacific. Photo by Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons.

Pāhoehoe lava meets Pacific. Photo by Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons.

A pastor friend wrote me asking for prayer. Her congregation is experiencing a season of tremendous change and loss due to circumstances far beyond their control. My imagination turned to swirling storms: the hurricanes we experience here in Florida, the shadowy swirl of chaos in the Creation story (Genesis 1:1-2), the overwhelming storms the disciples experienced on the Sea of Galilee. (Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25; Matthew 8:23-27)

Then I found this powerful picture of lava meeting the water by Brocken Inaglory. How does anything survive the crushing collision of boiling rock and endless waves of stinging, salty ocean? You cling to the hope of things made new. – Lisa <><

Prince of Peace, hear our cry
The winds of change are howling
Hurling us to and fro
We can’t get our footing
We can’t get our bearings
We’re drowning in loss

Prince of Peace, hear our cry
Pull us up for air
Hold us together
Anchor us in grace

Reveal what is real

For You are the Blessed Word
Creating new life from chaos
You are the Morning Star
Lighting a way bright with hope
You are the Prince of Peace
You hear our cry

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Prince of Peace, Hear Our Cry © 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.