Prayer- Your Voice, Your Story (Matthew 9.32-38)

voice speak sing proclaim preach

Based on Matthew 9:32-38

I am mute
No words to share
No way to be heard

Jesus, Voice of Truth
You have compassion on me
You heal me
You give me your voice and your story
Glory! Hallelujah!

We are mute
By our own choices
By the choices of others
By circumstances beyond any of us

Jesus, Voice of Grace
You have compassion on us
You heal us
You send us out with your words of grace
with your story of saving love and hope
Glory! Hallelujah!

Jesus, Voice of Hope
We return our voices to you
Use them to bring in your harvest
May everything and everyone
be healed, be held, and brought home
Field to Forever
Glory! Hallelujah!

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Prayer- Your voice, Your story © 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.

Take a Stand, a devotion inspired by Jeremiah 1:17-19

stand up speak outExtended quote from Ragamuffin Reflections by Brennan Manning
The prophet Jeremiah is a striking example of the Biblical paradox that surrender means victory, that in losing our life we find it. (Jesus Christ identifies with Jeremiah more than any other prophet and quotes him most frequently.) In the year 625 BC, the Lord summoned Jeremiah to a prophetic career. Jeremiah’s immediate response was reluctance. “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” he said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young” (Jeremiah 1:6). He was nineteen at the time. Jeremiah was not the confident, self-assured type like Amos or Isaiah. Sensitive, accustomed to the quiet of small-town life, he was temperamentally unsuited for public life and the harsh treatment that is the customary “reward of the prophets.”

Timid and afraid, Jeremiah had no ambition for such a mission. In no way did he want to preach God’s Word to his fellow Israelites. Nothing pleased him more than to be Mr. Nobody, ignored by the ruling clique of royal counselors and priests. How content he would have been to live in the tiny world of his own heart. And so he remonstrated with God, “Ah, Lord God. I am only a boy.” Each of us can sympathize, because Jeremiah is Everyman and Everywoman.

Take a Stand, a devotion inspired by Jeremiah 1:17-19 (NIV)
The words from scripture are found in regular type.

Get yourself ready!
There are things God leaves up to you
Your part of the preparation
Prayer and study and silence
Clearing out the crap so there’s space for what is coming

Stand up and say to them whatever I command you.
Rise now from the green pasture
From the still waters of comfort and slumber
Preparation leads to action
Sanctuary to Taking a Stand

Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.
God alone is God
They do not deserve your revere
Your awe
They are human
Dust and ashes, just like you

Today I have made you a fortified city,
an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land –
against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.
The call is beyond you
So God makes you more than you
Steadfast
Enduring
Rock and Refuge
Living Stone
Rejected in the Redeeming
Like your Christ
Your Jesus

They will fight
But the battle is the Lord’s

They will fight against you but will not overcome you,
for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.

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On this same theme, consider also reading The Stream of Justice, a stirring encouragement to continue our efforts for peace, freedom, and justice. Written by Steve Garnaas Holmes for Martin Luther King remembrances and similar occasions.

Take a Stand © 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.

Stand Up Speak Out graphic by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Prayer: Open Our Eyes, Our Hands, Our Lips

Open to the Light, photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Open to the Light, photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Merciful God, open our eyes
That we may see you at work
In us
Through us
Around us

Prince of Peace, open our hands
That we may release all that weighs us down
The burdens
The critics
The striving in our own strength

Holy Spirit, open our lips
That we may share the story of your saving love
With joy
With authenticity
With a power beyond our capability

All for your glory
All for you glory
All for you glory
Amen

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Prayer: Open our Eyes, Our Hands, Our Lips © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
You are welcome to use this work in a worship or other devotional setting with proper attribution. Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Advent Photo-A-Day: Day 20, Good News

beautiful feetThe thought behind the photo:
A few years ago, a friend gave me this fabulous Christmas tree ornament. I’m not a “shoe person”, but I am a pastor, so it came with a different meaning. Every year as I hang it on the tree, I smile thinking about my friend’s blessing and encouragement. Following Jesus and the call he’s placed on my life brought an unexpected change. I expected to be made new, but couldn’t imagine the great grace of “beautiful feet” from bringing good news.

SCRIPTURE: Romans 10:11-15 NRSV
The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

The December 20, 2013 devotion from http://umrethinkchurch.tumblr.com 
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 11:4-6, CEB
Jesus replied, “Go, report to John what you hear and see. Those who were blind are able to see. Those who were crippled are walking. People with skin diseases are cleansed. Those who were deaf now hear. Those who were dead are raised up. The poor have good news proclaimed to them. Happy are those who don’t stumble and fall because of me.”

John is in prison wondering, “Jesus, are you really the one we’ve been waiting for?” While there, he gets reports of all these great things happening; of prophesies coming true: blind seeing, crippled walking, sick being healed.

Wonder how John is feeling right about now. Is he able to rejoice in the fact that Jesus is doing what was foretold, while he’s suffering in prison?

In this season of merriment, how are we bringing good news to those who aren’t joyful? To those who are bound by things beyond their control or grief too great to bear?

Singing “Joy to the World” or “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” may not be well received by those experiencing pain or loss this season, but perhaps you’re able to bring comfort.

What might that look like?

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Thank you Rethink Church for a great way to make preparing for Christmas more meaningful. Join me and thousands more in setting aside time to reflect, focus, and literally picture the deep themes of Jesus’ birth.

Click here for more information on Advent Photo-A-Day from Rethink Church.

Click here for a master list of links to my submissions. Lisa <><

Christmas 8: The Shepherds’ Visit

The Story of Christmas
Day 8 Reading: Luke 2:15-20

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
– Mary Oliver

Excerpt from The Fifth Day of Christmas by Steve Garnaas Holmes
“The shepherds returned to their fields,
making known what had been told them.”

Take back to your fields
the shepherds’ wonder,
the magi’s perseverance,
Anna and Simeon’s attentiveness,
Joseph’s willingness,
Mary’s yes,
the child’s presence.

As the starlit night closes its eye behind us
the Beloved still comes into the world.
Welcome each moment
prepared to meet God in it.
Bear this wonder into this day,
and the next.

Extended quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer from
God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

We cannot approach the manger of the Christ child in the same way we approach the cradle of another child. Rather, when we go to his manger, something happens, and we cannot leave it again unless we have been judged or redeemed. Here we must either collapse or know the mercy of God directed toward us.

What does that mean? Isn’t all of this just a way of speaking? Isn’t it just pastoral exaggeration of a pretty and pious legend? What does it mean that such things are said about the Christ child? Those who want to take it as a way of speaking will do so and continue to celebrate Advent and Christmas as before, with pagan indifference. For us it is not just a way of speaking. For that’s just it: it is God himself, the Lord and Creator of all things, who is so small here, who is hidden here in the corner, who enters into the plainness of the world, who meets us in the helplessness and defenselessness of a child, and wants to be with us. And he does this not out of playfulness or sport, because we find that so touching, but in order to show us where he is and who he is, and in order from this place to judge and devalue and dethrone all human ambition.

The throne of God in the world is not on human thrones, but in human depths, in the manger. Standing around his throne there are no flattering vassals but dark, unknown, figures who cannot get their fill of this miracle and want to live entirely by the mercy of God.

Richard Crashaw, selected verses from the Shepherd’s hymn
We saw Thee in Thy balmy nest,
Young dawn of our eternal day;
We saw Thine eyes break from the East,
And chase the trembling shades away:
We saw Thee, and we blest the sight,
We saw Thee by Thine own sweet light.

To Thee, meek Majesty, soft King
Of simple graces and sweet loves!
Each of us his lamb will bring,
Each his pair of silver doves!
At last, in fire of Thy fair eyes,
Ourselves become our own best sacrifice!

Some Children See Him by Alfred Burt
red-head-mary-jesus

Some children see Him lily white,
The baby Jesus born this night.
Some children see Him lily white,
With tresses soft and fair.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
The Lord of heav’n to earth come down.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
With dark and heavy hair.

japanese holy family

Some children see Him
almond-eyed,
This Savior whom we kneel beside.
Some children see Him
almond-eyed,
With skin of yellow hue.
Some children see Him dark as they,
Sweet Mary’s Son to whom we pray.
Some children see him dark as they,
And, ah! they love Him, too!

african madonna-and-child-by-mavruk

The children in each different place
Will see the baby Jesus’ face
Like theirs,
but bright with heavenly grace,
And filled with holy light.
O lay aside each earthly thing
And with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the infant King.
‘Tis love that’s born tonight!

mary-jesus-india

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For information on The Story of Christmas Reading Plan, click here

Some Children See Him
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