Sermon Recording- God’s End Game, Reconciliation (Genesis 33; 2 Corinthians 5)

Jacob Sermon Series

Sermon Series – Jacob, Punk to Patriarch
Jacob’s journey to faith and accepting his place in God’s plan is full of schemes, betrayal, and family dysfunction. Yet, in the midst of the mess, God remains steadfast- offering relationship, provision, purpose, and new life. In Jacob’s story, we see our own mess and God’s saving grace for us as well.

Message: God’s End Game, Reconciliation 
Scriptures: Genesis 32, Genesis 33
Offered 10/02/16 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

2 Corinthians 5:15-19
[Jesus] died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

From the Walk to Emmaus Worship Booklet for Pilgrims
Loving God, you love us, all of us,
and ask in return that we love you with all our hearts and souls and minds.
Loving God, you love us, all of us,
and ask in return that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Loving God, you love us, all of us,
and ask and return that we forgive and not hold grudges.
Loving God, you love us, all of us,
and ask in return that we take up our cross and follow you.
And by your grace we will love and obey.
Let it be so, now and forever. Amen

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

Quotes: Reconciliation and Peacemaking

One of the statues of the Reconciliation Triangle by Broadbent Studio. For more information, see the link below.

One of the statues of the Reconciliation Triangle by Broadbent Studio. For more information, see the link below.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NRSV)
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

Reconciliation is the physical demonstration that God is at work in the world. Any fool can put people at odds. Only God – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all – can bring those opposed to one another together as sisters and brother. When we lose reconciliation, we lose the purposes of Jesus.
– Sean Palmer, Missing the Point

Running throughout our sacred texts, traditions, and experience is the thread of God’s desire for union, inclusivity, non-violence, trust, patience, and healing.– Richard Rohr

Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.
– Desmond Tutu

We have not come to compete with one another.
We have come to complete one another. – Bill McCartney

Extended quote from Compassion in Practice: The Way of Jesus by Frank Rogers Jr.
Radical compassion in the face of violence invites the offender into a right and appropriate relationship. Jesus yearns for reconciliation – the estranged will be reunited, enemies will heal their differences, and perpetrators of violence will be restored to the communities that they betrayed. Radical compassion hopes for such reconciliation, and invites it even with those who act egregiously.

Reconciliation, however, is neither naive nor cavalier. Reconciliation has conditions. It requires the following:

  • Repentance. The violent or abusive person repents and admits the wrong he or she committed.
  • Remorse. He or she shows remorse for the pain his or her actions caused.
  • Restitution. He or she makes restitution, if only symbolically, in an attempt to restore that which was lost.
  • Rehabilitation. He or she commits to take steps toward his or her recovery so that further violation no longer occurs.

The response to injustice is to share.
The response to despair is a limitless trust and hope.
The response to prejudice and hatred is forgiveness.
To work for community is to work for humanity.
– L’Arche Founder Jean Vanier, Community and Growth

Violence, no matter how dramatic, doesn’t change anything. The world is already full of it, and more of it is just more of it. What actually changes the world is when the violence stops. It’s when the wounds and fears that drive our violence are healed. It’s when people who are bitter or afraid are reconciled. It’s forgiveness, kindness and nonviolence. What changes the world is the slow, quiet, gradual work of mending the human soul.
Steve Garnaas Holmes, Conspiracy

The only Hebrew Scriptures that [Jesus] quotes are those that move toward mercy and justice and inclusivity. There are scriptures that present God as punitive, imperialistic, or exclusionary, but Jesus never quotes them in his teaching. In fact, he speaks against them…. Jesus was not changing the Father’s mind about us; he was changing our mind about God—and thus about one another. If God and Jesus are not hateful, violent, punitive, torturing, or vindictive, then our excuse for the same is forever taken away from us. – Richard Rohr, What Jesus Says about God

John 14:27 NRSV
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Give me peace by Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Terrible things have happened.
God, grant me acceptance.

People have been hurtful.
Give me forgiveness.

I am not done being hurt by what has happened.
Help me let go.

I also have done terrible things.
Forgive me.

I am afraid of my own guilt.
Heal me of my shame.

I want so desperately to be “good” that I need others to be “bad.”
Release me from judging.

I am angry because I feel powerless.
Give me peace.

I am afraid of my vulnerability.
Give me peace.

I am addicted to my fear and anger.
Give me peace.

In fear, I desire more violence, that others bear my pain.
Give me peace.

My anxiety, like a gun, makes me feel safe and powerful.
Give me peace.

This world is in need of healing.
Give me your peace, that I may be healing,
for this alone is your desire.
Amen.

**********
The Reconciliation Triangle consists of three memorials in three different cities confessing their role in human trafficking, asking for forgiveness, and vowing to continue to work for justice in this matter. Click here for more details of this powerful project.

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 Quote: Whenever People Love Each Other

Buechner on love 21 John 4:15-16 NRSV
God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

This piece was created using PicMonkey, a free, online picture editor. It’s super easy to use and has lots of great fonts, filters and other editing goodies. Someone with limited artistic abilities (like me) can feel very accomplished very quickly. – Lisa <><

The picture: Reconciliation (originally named Reunion) is a sculpture by Josefina de Vasconcellos located in the ruin of Coventry Cathedral.

A Few Thoughts on Anger

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NRSV)
Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.

Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back — in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you. – Frederick Buechner

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. -Mark Twain

Consider how much more you often suffer from your anger and grief, than from those very things for which you are angry and grieved. – Marcus Antonius

Whatever the offense, a fundamental rule for processing anger is this: Do not harm yourself or anyone else. We must learn to manage the physical stimuli that grip us after a hurt. Anger can be as challenging to control as a wild stallion. When wronged, we need to let our emotions subside before acting. This may mean taking a break and removing ourselves physically from the situation. During this time-out, it is important not to replay the offense. – Kathleen Fischer, Forgiving Your Family

Anger, Your Friend by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Anger is not a sin. It’s a feeling.
It’s not your enemy. It’s also not righteousness.
Anger may arise in the face of injustice, or happenstance,
or almost nothing at all.
But it is not “against” those things.
It’s not about those things at all,
but about your response to those things.
Anger is a response to your powerlessness.
Otherwise, you’d simply fix what was wrong.

Anger is your loyal friend: it’s giving you a message
and won’t leave till you get it.
So don’t neglect or suppress your anger:
it will sit there and seethe in your mind’s basement
and become toxic to you and others,
and, consciously or not, you will weaponize it.
Don’t turn your anger against anybody, including yourself.
Just listen to it: it’s telling you about your powerlessness.
And it’s telling you what you care about.

Listen to your anger, and ask:
1. What is not right?
2. Do I really care about this?
This anger could just be a conditioned response.
But it’s letting you know of your misplaced desire
for power and control.
If this thing is not worth caring about,
You can let your anger be, without reacting to it. Just let it be.
And let yourself be powerless. (After all, you are.)
3. If I do care about this, what can I do?
Remember, you’re still powerless.
But let your anger direct your attention to what you can do—
not to hurt, to avenge, or to make yourself feel less powerless,
but to make the situation better.
In action, you will regain your power.
Then thank your friend anger.

Matthew 5:21-25 NRSV
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first, be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.”

Because true prayer is rooted in surrender, anger is the surest way not only to be distracted in prayer but also to be defeated in our attempts to pray. Anger gives rise to thoughts and images which poison the soul. This is why Jesus said that we cannot allow grudges to exist when we are worshiping God. This is why we cannot focus on the speck in someone else’s eye while ignoring the log in ours. The manner of our praying is first to remove the blockages so that God’s “water of life” can flow unimpeded into our lives. – Steve Harper, The Manner of our Praying

Making sacred space for genuine mourning over our wounds is essential within the journey of healthy forgiveness. Genuine mourning involves many feelings, including anger and sorrow, which are closely intertwined. …For some of us, it feels safer and easier to rage than to cry. Rage is often our masked tears.
Flora Slosson Wuellner Forgiveness, the Passionate Journey

Yes, I was angry. And I was a little afraid. After all, I’ve not been free in so long. But, when I felt that anger well up inside of me, I realized that if I hated them after I got outside that gate, then they would still have me. I wanted to be free so I let it go.
~Nelson Mandela upon leaving prison after 27 years of confinement. This quote opens an excellent article by Gail Brenner entitled 10 Life-Changing Facts About Anger

A Blessing for Times of Anger
Your anger is real
Your pain is real
Your fear is real

In the honesty of this moment
May you remember
Your Defender is at hand

Anger’s fire will not consume you
Pain’s waves will not overwhelm you
Fear’s furor will not run away with you

God’s love is stronger
Making all things new
Transforming destruction
From death to life

May the Promise claim you
And embrace you
And empower you to
Surrender revenge
Pick up perspective
and wisdom
and grace
and hope
and freedom
and…

************
If you know the artist of today’s featured work please let me know so I may give him/her credit.

A Blessing for Times of Anger © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for permission to publish this work in any form.

One with God, One with Each Other


I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking and praying on the theme of unity these past weeks. It began with the death of Trayvon Martin. Sanford Florida is a short drive from my home. I keep thinking about how we continue to fear one another and how this fear escalates into labeling and violence.

I’ve also been actively praying for The General Conference of the United Methodist Church, which begins the end of April in Tampa. This is the decision making body of our denomination and there are many important topics before them, topics which can be polarizing and divisive. (To join the prayer campaign, click here)

There are other situations, too. A couple in the midst of divorce, a disagreement between friends, a costly betrayal. Oh the things we do to one another. It breaks my heart and I am sure it breaks God’s heart. Lord have mercy.

The good news is that mercy does come. In the breaking and brokenness, God makes a way for us to be one- one with God and one with each other. Christ is broken that we might be freed from our fear, that we might find unity in our diversity, that we might be whole.

Merciful One, make us one with each other and one in you. Amen.

Worship Resource: Make us One
ALL SINGING
Make us One by Carol Cymbala
The Faith We Sing #2224
CCLI # 695737
The music continues underneath each Scripture reading.

ONE SPEAKING: John 13:34 (NRSV)
Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

ALL SINGING
Make us One by Carol Cymbala
The Faith We Sing #2224, CCLI # 695737

ONE SPEAKING: John 15:4-5 (NRSV)
Jesus says, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

ALL SINGING
Make us One by Carol Cymbala
The Faith We Sing #2224, CCLI # 695737

ONE SPEAKING: John 17:11b (NRSV)
Jesus prays, “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”

ALL SINGING
Make us One by Carol Cymbala
The Faith We Sing #2224, CCLI # 695737

Continue with prayers for unity, individual or corporate, silent or aloud

———————
compilation © 2012 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, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.