Learning to Pray- Thank you, God

Thank you god for

Imagine yourself as a little child. You didn’t need to be taught how to ask for help. You were born knowing how. Asking for help was as natural as breathing. We just have to remember to ask.

What wasn’t so natural was saying, “Thank you.” We have to be taught and reminded.

Consider this moving truth about saying, “thank you” by author Ann Voskamp.
“All the brokenness in the world begins with the act of forgetting — forgetting that God is enough, forgetting that what He gives is good enough, forgetting that there is always more than enough to give thanks for.”

Wow! So, learning to pray is actually re-membering. This takes place when we remember to give thanks.

Finish this sentence. Thank you, God, for…
Finish it ten times. Ten thousand times.
Literally, count your blessings.
We re-member by remembering the goodness in our lives.

Now finish this sentence. Thank you, God, for your…
That one extra word shifts our attention to the One who provides every goodness.
We re-remember by remembering the Giver and the gift.

Ann Voskamp continues
“Though we forget, though we’re prone to chronic soul amnesia, You never forget us, You never abandon us, You never give up on us. You have written us, our very names, on the palm of Your hands, written even me right into You — though we forget, You re-member us, You put us & the broken bits & members of us back together again. We are re-membered in You — You who engrave Your love letter to us right into Your skin…. right into Your beating heart.”

Wow again.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear ones. In the comments, share how you’re finishing these sentences. May these simple sentences help you re-member and give thanks all year long. – Lisa <><

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This is the second in a series of posts on Learning to Pray. Click here for the first post, God, please help.

Learning to Pray- Thank you, God © 2019 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.

All Saints Remembrance


I am not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.
– Nelson Mandela

Holiness only appears to be abnormal. The truth is, holiness is normal; to be anything else is to be abnormal. Being a saint is simply being the person God made me to be. Saints at the end of the day are not really strange or odd or misfits. They are simply real, or normal. They actually are what we all are made to be, what we can be. – James C. Howell

ALL SAINTS REMEMBRANCE
1 Corinthians 1:2-3 NRSV
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

The followers of Jesus in Corinth had some serious problems, infighting and immorality to name a couple, yet Paul calls them saints. A saint is not a perfect person. Saints are simply persons who know their deep need of God- they know they’re sinners- yet they haven’t stayed there. They’ve placed their trust in the marvelous grace, forgiveness, and healing of God through Jesus Christ.

If you love and follow Jesus, you are a saint.

And so my brothers and sisters
Let us remember who we are in Jesus- saints set apart by God and for God
Let us remember our purpose- to lead a devoted life
– A life worthy of the calling to which we have been called
– A life which inspires faith in others
– A life ushering in the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven

Let us recommit ourselves to this life,
by first honoring the lives of those who have inspired us
– The heroic and humble who ran the race before us
– The martyrs who sacrificed all for the sake of Jesus
– And especially those who we have known and loved who led us to Jesus and encouraged us to deeper faith and service

Let us pray…

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
You surround us with witness after witness to your transforming love
Inspire us and empower us to persevere
Fill our hearts with courage

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
You weep with us in our heartbreak and loss
Comfort us and protect us in our mourning
Fill our souls with hope

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
You cry out in victory over sin and the grave
Raise us and release us to fulfill your calling
Fill our lives with faithfulness and good works

Raise your voices and speak their names now …

Persons are invited forward to speak the names of those they are remembering into the microphone, to choose a carnation, flower the cross, and pray at the communion rail 

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All Saints Remembrance © 2019 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.

Holy Spirit, Pour Out Your Truth (John 14)

Sermon Series spirit filled 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Spirit Filled
Message 4 of 5: Pour Out Your Truth
Scripture: John 14:16-17, 25-26
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 6/30/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Saints QB Drew Brees Shares his testimony

John 14:16-17
Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

  • The Holy Spirit is the Presence of God with us right now.
  • The Spirit is with you and in you. Now and Forever!
  • God’s presence, sustaining, and blessing is all around us. You have the power to ignore and push away the Spirit. You have a choice. The Spirit will not be forced upon you.
  • The Holy Spirit is the Advocate = Helper/Counselor/Parakletos. One set from the Father. Exactly like the Father and Christ.
  • The Presence of God is a Help. The Presence is for you.

John 14:25-26
Jesus said, “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”

The Spirit Teaches us and Reminds us
One of Jesus’ main missions was to teach. Jesus would refer back to the Old Testament, reminding his hearers what it really meant and really said. Jesus brought the promises of God into his time period and thus our time period. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, will continue to do that.

What the Spirit teaches us and reminds us is seen in how the Spirit is revealed in the Scriptures. Think 4 B’s: Bird, Breath, Blow, Burn.

holy spirit bird breath blow burn

Bird – Click here for the sign language motion

  • We are named and claimed by God in our baptism. Our true identity is found in Christ Jesus, rooted in the eternal, not in how the world wants to label and stereotype us.
  • The Love Dove of Jesus’ Baptism- The heavens were opened to Jesus. He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. This is my Son the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:16-17)

Breath- Click here for the sign language motion for breath

  • We are made alive in Christ, awakened and empowered to love and serve
  • Holy Spirit as the sacred, life-giving breath of God
  • the gift of life in Genesis 2:7
  • God instructs Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones to prophesy to the breath (Ezekiel 37:9-14)
  • After his resurrection, Jesus breathes on the disciples, offering the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 20:19-23)

Blow- Click here for the sign language motion for wind

  • The Holy Spirit is God, and thus beyond our control. Like the coming and going of the wind, the movement of the Holy Spirit is unseen and mysterious.
  • We hesitate to surrender to the Spirit because we want to be in control. We’re afraid of change and loss. We know our normal and we want to keep it.
  • In the Beginning, a wind from God swept over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2)
  • “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
  • Pentecost- The coming of the Spirit was like the sound of the rush of a violent wind and it filled the entire house (Acts 2:2)

Burn- Click here for the sign language motion for fire

  • The fire of God reminds us of passion, our mission/calling from God, and the refiner’s fire which burns away what isn’t good for us so the gold is revealed.
  • Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3)
  • The pillar of fire leading God’s people through the darkness and across the wilderness to the promised land (Exodus 13-14)
  • God consuming the offering in the battle between Elijah and the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18)
  • Isaiah’s lips being cleansed by a lump of burning coal from the heavenly altar
  • God companioning and rescuing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace (Daniel 3)
  • God described as a Refiner’s Fire (Malachi 3)
  • John the Baptist’s prophecy that the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3, Luke 3)
  • The tongues of fire dancing on the disciples’ heads at Pentecost (Acts 2)

When you think of Fire, what comes to mind?

  • Fire takes- burn down the house, forest fire, burn my skin- sunburn, radiation treatment. Devastation. Destruction. Consuming. Devouring. If I surrender to the Spirit, what will he take from me?
  • Fire gives- candles on Christmas Eve, campfire, warmth, light.
  • We get scared of the Spirit. Not sure if we want it.

What the Fire Gives by Jan Richardson, from her book Circle of Grace
You had thought that fire
only consumed,
only devoured,
only took for itself,
leaving merely ash
and memory
of something
you had believed,
if not permanent,
would be long enough,
enduring enough,
to be nearly
eternal.

So when you felt
the scorching on your lips,
the searing in your heart,
you could not
at first believe
that flame could be
so generous,
that when it came to you—
you, in your sackcloth
and sorrow—
it did not come
to consume,
to take still more
than everything.

What surprised you most
were not the syllables
that spilled from
your scalded,
astonished mouth—
though that was miracle
enough,
to have words
burn through
what had been numb,
to find your tongue
aflame with a language
you did not know
you knew—

no, what came
as greatest gift
was to be so heard
in the place
of your deepest
silence,
to be so seen
within the blazing,
to be met
with such completeness
by what the fire gives.

Holy Spirit, Pour out your truth
“That flame could be so generous.” I needed that reminder.

What we believe about God matters. If we believe God is angry, ready to punish, always watching, distant it will color everything. But if we believe God is generous, strong, good, and near, then the gift of the Holy Spirit is generous, good, and near.

We have our normal we know really well. It’s comforting and comfortable in a world that’s always changing. But, what God offers us is a new normal beyond circumstance. It is generous.

The first thing God always offers is to be heard and seen. Being before doing. God knows me just as I am. God sees me just as I am. God loves me just as I am. God invites me into all I can be.

I long to be known and seen and understood like this. That’s what I find in the presence of God. No need to hide. This knowing and seeing are so generous you can surrender to it. It is trustworthy and it is truth.

What do you most need today from the Spirit?
What do you most need to be reminded of?

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Holy Spirit, Pour Out Your Truth © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon Recording: It Begins With Baptism (Matthew 3)

Message: It Begins in Baptism
Scripture: Matthew 3:11-17
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 1/13/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. On the first Sunday after Epiphany (January 6), many Christians remember the Baptism of Jesus Christ. As part of the celebration, the faithful renew their baptismal vows.

Rev. Janet Wolf telling the story of Fayette
In new members’ class we talked about baptism: this holy moment when we are named by God’s grace with such power it won’t come undone.

Fayette was there—a woman living on the streets, struggling with mental illness and lupus. She loved the part about baptism and would ask over and over, “And when I’m baptized, I am . . . ?” We soon learned to respond, “Beloved, precious child of God, and beautiful to behold.” “Oh, yes!” she’d say, and then we could go back to our discussion.

The big day came. Fayette went under, came up sputtering, and cried, “And now I am . . . ?” And we all said, “Beloved, precious child of God, and beautiful to behold.” “Oh, yes!” she shouted as she danced all around the fellowship hall.

Two months later I got a call. Fayette had been beaten and raped and was at the county hospital. So I went. I could see her from a distance, pacing back and forth. When I got to the door, I heard, “I am beloved . . . ” She turned, saw me, and said, “I am beloved, precious child of God, and. . . . ” Catching sight of herself in the mirror— hair sticking up, blood and tears streaking her face, dress torn, dirty, and rebuttoned askew, she started again, “I am beloved, precious child of God, and . . . ” She looked in the mirror again and declared, “ . . . and God is still working on me. If you come back tomorrow, I’ll be so beautiful I’ll take your breath away!”

In a world that pronounces so many of us “not good enough,” what might it mean to believe that our true identity is chosen, precious, and beloved?

It begins with baptism

Reading: Matthew 3:13-17 NRSV

Chosen, Beloved, Blessed. It all begins with Baptism.

Where do we find our Identity?             

  • What family, country, neighborhood we were born into
  • Our job, school, the team we follow

We can find our identity in so many different places. But those measures of identity will fade away. They are not lasting. This is lasting. “This is my son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased. This is my daughter, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

This is who you are in Christ. It so strong, so rooted, it goes beyond circumstance. It goes beyond disease. It goes beyond death.

Identity begins with baptism. But there’s more!

Empowerment

  • Verse 16, The heavens were opened to him
  • Verse 16, The Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him
  • Verse 11, Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire

It all begins with baptism. This naming, claiming, and identity begins with baptism and empowering begins with baptism.

It doesn’t stop or end with baptism. It begins with baptism. This is where Jesus begins his public ministry, the three years leading up to his death and resurrection. The healing, the preaching, the welcoming, the teaching, the work of justice and saving.

It’s not just the beginning for Jesus, it’s also the beginning for us. Baptism is the ordination of every follower of Jesus Christ into the priesthood of all believers. 

Jesus didn’t come and die and rise again so you could be a member of a church. Jesus came and died and rose again so you could be a missionary. A missionary in whatever way that looks like for you. A missionary to your family, co-workers, neighborhood, the folks you hang out with… whatever that looks like.

It’s so important and it will take so much of us we too must remember who we are and we too must be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Baptism of Christ with Dove by Daniel BonnellThe Baptism of the Christ with Dove by Daniel Bonnell. What do you notice? What does it remind us of?

  • movement of the painting
  • power of the colors, fire colors
  • light radiating
  • submission and humility of Christ
  • you see the crucifixion
  • the dove representing the Holy Spirit
  • Jesus’ arms match the dove wings
  • One Christ’s hands are down and one is up, death and victory/resurrection, fully human and fully divine
  • of ripples of water radiating out into the world

What if every time we washed our faces, or stood beneath the shower, or were caught in a rainstorm, we remembered and reaffirmed our baptism- our identity and our empowerment.   

There’s so much being said in this powerful painting because there is so much going on in the waters of baptism. When we come forward to the waters, there’s so much we are reaffirming, recommitting to, and being thankful for.

On the recording, the message transitions into the Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows

Worship Resources
Holy Spirit, Holy One
Holy Spirit, Descending Dove
Alight on me that I may know your presence
Anoint me that I may know your call
Fill me that I may know your power
Guide me that I may know your path
Name me that I may know, that I know, that I know who I am
Amen

Be Still, Remember
a hymn for reaffirming the baptismal covenant
Suggested Tune- ONE BREAD, ONE BODY (United Methodist Hymnal #620)

Refrain-
Be still, remember, who you are.
Come touch the water
of your birth.
Be dead to sin, alive to God.
Remember who you are in Jesus.

Verses-
You are beloved.
You are an heir.
You are a child of God.

You are claimed.
You are marked.
You are named by God.

Chosen and blessed
Gifted by God
Witness through word and deed

Check out a poem/devotional entitled The Beloved by Steve Garnaas Holmes

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Holy Spirit, Holy One © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Be Still, Remember © 2000 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
It Begins in Baptism © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

All Saints Remembrance


I am not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.
– Nelson Mandela

Holiness only appears to be abnormal. The truth is, holiness is normal; to be anything else is to be abnormal. Being a saint is simply being the person God made me to be. Saints at the end of the day are not really strange or odd or misfits. They are simply real, or normal. They actually are what we all are made to be, what we can be. – James C. Howell

ALL SAINTS REMEMBRANCE
1 Corinthians 1:2-3 NRSV
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

The followers of Jesus in Corinth had some serious problems, infighting and immorality to name a couple, yet Paul calls them saints. A saint is not a perfect person. Saints are simply persons who know their deep need of God- they know they’re sinners- yet they haven’t stayed there. They’ve placed their trust in the marvelous grace, forgiveness, and healing of God through Jesus Christ.

If you love and follow Jesus, you are a saint.

And so my brothers and sisters
Let us remember who we are in Jesus- saints set apart by God and for God
Let us remember our purpose- to lead a devoted life
– A life worthy of the calling to which we have been called
– A life which inspires faith in others
– A life ushering in the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven

Let us recommit ourselves to this life,
by first honoring the lives of those who have inspired us
– The heroic and humble who ran the race before us
– The martyrs who sacrificed all for the sake of Jesus
– And especially those who we have known and loved who led us to Jesus and encouraged us to deeper faith and service

Raise your voices and speak their names now …

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
You surround us with witness after witness to your transforming love
Inspire us and empower us to persevere
Fill our hearts with courage

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
You weep with us in our heartbreak and loss
Comfort us and protect us in our mourning
Fill our souls with hope

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
You cry out in victory over sin and the grave
Raise us and release us to fulfill your calling
Fill our lives with faithfulness and good works

Persons are invited forward to choose a flower, place the flower on the cross, and pray at the communion rail. 

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All Saints Remembrance © 2016 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.