Extending Blessing (Ephesians 3)

detail from the Hagia Sophia mosaic of Christ

detail from the Hagia Sophia mosaic of Christ

For this reason, I kneel before the Father,
from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. – Eph. 3:14-15

Blessing begins with reverence
A reverence for our Wondrous God
Who bends low to welcome us
Birthing us through water and Spirit
Naming us and claiming us
beloved and blessed
Who not only welcomes us but welcomes all
Knitting us together
in the Body Miraculous
Strangers becoming brothers and sisters
A family far beyond class, clan, or culture
Far beyond what we could ask or imagine

I pray that out of his glorious riches
He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. – Eph. 3:16-17

From an incalculable treasure of grace upon grace
God pours out strength
Not as the world gives
Not with obvious outward displays
But hidden in the very depths of our frailty
God pours and floods with blood and breath
The very power of life
Driven and danced by Holy Spirit
That we may find our true home in Christ
Our true self in Christ

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
May have power, together with all the saints,
To grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—
That you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Eph. 3:17-19

This power
This companionship
This indescribable, priceless love of Christ
This is the blessing
Infinitely wide and long and high
Poured forth and driven deep
All the way down to the roots- our vines anchored in God’s grace
Rooted and Established- tilled till all the wild branches embrace
and the sweet fruit overflows the cups of justice and joy

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
According to his power that is at work within us,
To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
Throughout all generations, forever and ever! – Eph 3:20-21

Glory be to the Blessed One
Opening our lips in blessing
With power to make new

Glory be to the Blessed One
Opening our hands in blessing
With power to make whole

Glory be to the Blessed One
Opening our hearts in blessing
That the grace poured in by Christ
Would overflow
Generation to generation to generation
An endless procession
To all, in all, and through all

Amen.

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This prayer was inspired by by 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.

Extending Blessing © 2014 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.

Growing in Resilience: Nothing Can Contain You, Isaiah 66.1-2

listening-by-meganne-forbesGrowing in Resilience
Day 27, Read Isaiah 66
Reflection: Nothing Can Contain You, based on Isaiah Isaiah 66:1-2, The Message

God’s Message: “Heaven’s my throne, earth is my footstool. What sort of house could you build for me? What holiday spot reserve for me? I made all this! I own all this!”

God’s Decree: “But there is something I’m looking for: a person simple and plain, reverently responsive to what I say.”

Eternal One
Magnificent and Mighty
Transcendent and Glorious
Nothing can contain You
No heart
No house
No sanctuary
No fortress
No people or plan or strategy or decree

Nothing can contain You
You need nothing
You made all that is seen and unseen
All is yours

Nothing can contain You
You are Whole
Complete

Yet, You desire something
You are looking for something
For someone
Someone real, plain, humble
Someone faith-full, hope-full
Trembling with awe and anticipation
Reverent and ready

Speak Lord, your beloved, your servant, is listening

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Nothing Can Contain You © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon Recording- The Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5.21-32)

Sermon Series Website What is Church
Sermon Series: What is Church?
Message 2 of 6: The Bride of Christ
Scriptures: Ephesians 5:21-32
This message was offered Sunday, 4/29/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

The Wedding Vows
I, _________________, give myself to you to be your husband/wife to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, forsaking all others until we are parted by death, recognizing the promise of life everlasting and love everlasting. This is my solemn vow.

The Church as Bride of Christ: Problems with metaphor

  • Difficult for those who’ve been disappointed by marriage – Never married, divorced, betrayal, abusive marriage
  • Difficult for men to relate to “bride”
  • The phrase “Bride of Christ” not found in the scriptures but there are plenty of passages which use the metaphor

bride outsideAll metaphors break down. Bride of Christ remains a powerful reminder of our relationship to one another and to Christ

Read Ephesians 5:21-32 NRSV

21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

  • Be subject = Voluntary, free choice, submission, our power under the authority of another, cooperating, collaborating
  • Ephesians 5-6 describes the mutual submission of husbands and wives, children and parents, slaves and masters

How?

  • Previous verses discuss being filled with the Holy Spirit by singing Psalms, Hymns, Spiritual Songs & giving thanks to God the Father in name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Trinity, the fullness of God, First Creed)
  • Out of Reverence to Christ- We submit to Christ as His followers out of reverence for Christ first submitting to us. Jesus made the ultimate submission in his life, death, and resurrection.

Notice verses 22-27

  • The Love of our Lord Jesus Christ is deep, pure, sacrificial
  • Look what Jesus gave up to make us his own. Compare with Philippians 2. Poor, homeless, misunderstood, glory to humility, abused and tortured, obedient to the point of death, even on a cross
  • Jesus making us his own- making us holy, set apart, like in marriage the couple is set apart only for each other

Vs. 26 Cleansing with the washing of water by the word

  • The powerful presence of Jesus in the sacrament of baptism and in his Holy Word- Cleansing, new birth, water for growth, Jesus’ tears, Jesus washing feet

Vs. 27 Jesus presents the church to himself in splendor radiant

Remember, you are both beloved and the light of the world. Jesus, the Bridegroom, presents us like a Bride unstained, unwrinkled, unblemished, innocent which literally means unwounded. By his stripes, we are healed. He took the wounds that we might be unwounded.

28 In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church.

We leave our earthly labels and tribes to be at one with Christ

  • This isn’t head knowledge, it’s down to the bone, the blood, skin in the game, an intimate union
  • This is a relationship of devotion, fidelity, one spouse, one Lord. Jesus first loved us that he may be our first love

Let us, the Church, the Bride, recommit to Christ the Bridegroom, using the Wedding Vows

We give ourselves to you Jesus, to be your Bride, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, forsaking all others, knowing we are not parted by death, recognizing the promise of life everlasting and love everlasting. This is our solemn vow.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean 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.

Prayer: All will be Brought to Light (Matthew 2.1-12)

vision eye see

Having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they left for their own country by another road
– Matthew 2:12

Prayer: All Will be Brought to Light
Radiant One, give us wisdom
to know when to wait and when to act
to know what to pick up and what to leave behind

The hidden will be brought to light
hidden words
hidden thoughts
hidden actions of our hands
hidden motives of our hearts

Radiant One, give us wisdom
to stand- trusting all will be revealed
to bow- knowing all will be revealed

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Be sure to check out some wonderful prayers based on this scripture passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes, entitled Another Road and Inward Magi.

Prayer: All Will be Brought to Light © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon Recording- Hallowed Be Thy Name

hallowed be your name
Sermon Series: 57 Words That Changed the World
Messages on the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:5-15

Message: Hallowed Be Thy Name
Scripture: Matthew 6:5-15
Offered 4/10/16 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

The Lord’s Prayer informs, forms, and transforms us and the world. – Lisa Degrenia

We have no idea of how to live until we first know who God is.
So when we say that God’s name is holy, that tells us how we ought to live.
Knowing the Creator tells us where the creation is meant to move.
– Will Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas, Lord Teach Us- The Lord’s Prayer and the Christian Life

Hallow has two meanings
1) To holy-fy and honor
2) To make known, reveal

If you claim to be a child of God, a follower of the Risen Christ, live like it and pray like it.
– Lisa Degrenia

Matthew 25:37-40
37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Matthew 5:16
Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Worship Resources for this Message 
Call to Worship- God’s Glorious Name

Study Resources for this Message
Lord, Teach Us: The Lord’s Prayer & the Christian Life
by Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon

The Lord and His Prayer by N. T. Wright

Fifty-Seven Words that Change the World: A Journey through the Lord’s Prayer
by Darrell W. Johnson

A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer by W. Phillip Keller

Our Heavenly Father: Sermons on the Lord’s Prayer by Helmut Thielicke
Read it for free online!

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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.

Prayer: All will be Brought to Light (Matthew 2:1-12)

vision eye see2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 25 Reading: Matthew 2:1-12
The Wise Ones

Having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they left for their own country by another road
– Matthew 2:12

Prayer: All Will be Brought to Light
Radiant One, give us wisdom
to know when to wait and when to act
to know what to pick up and what to leave behind

The hidden will be brought to light
hidden words
hidden thoughts
hidden actions of our hands
hidden motives of our hearts

Radiant One, give us wisdom
to stand- trusting all will be revealed
to bow- knowing all will be revealed

***********
Be sure to check out some wonderful prayers based on this scripture passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes, entitled Another Road and Inward Magi.

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: All Will be Brought to Light © 2013 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.

God in My Image: an aha moment from Proverbs 6:16-23

Graphic from Dustin Beasley's blog, Endure Life

Graphic from Dustin Beasley’s blog, Endure Life

SCRIPTURE: Proverbs 6:16-23 The Message
Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion:

  1. eyes that are arrogant
  2. a tongue that lies
  3. hands that murder the innocent
  4. a heart that hatches evil plots
  5. feet that race down a wicked track
  6. a mouth that lies under oath
  7. a troublemaker in the family

Good friend, follow your father’s good advice; don’t wander off from your mother’s teachings. Wrap yourself in them from head to foot; wear them like a scarf around your neck. Wherever you walk, they’ll guide you; whenever you rest, they’ll guard you; when you wake up, they’ll tell you what’s next. For sound advice is a beacon, good teaching is a light, moral discipline is a life path.

OBSERVATION
The seven items on the list are destructive choices. They bring separation, pain, and injustice. God offers us the way of goodness and life. Following this path brings direction and protection.

APPLICATION
The first two vows of the United Methodist Baptismal and Membership Liturgy
1. Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?
2. Do you accept the freedom and power that God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?

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.

I am very comfortable with the God of grace, mercy and love. So much so that when a friend in my Bible study class asked me about this passage I didn’t know what to say. God is love and yet God hates. God hates not only evil actions but God also hates people who choose them. How can this be?

Humans can love and hate at the same time, but our hate usually leads to sin. Prejudice, sectarianism, gossip, judging others, labeling, bullying, violence. Hate is not a healthy or faithful option for me.

There is such a thing as the wrath of God. God cries out that oppressors be stopped, that violence end. The cry [in Psalm 137] is not literally to kill babies, but to utterly destroy the offspring of greed and exploitation, to end the line of succession of violence and abuse, to chop off the family tree of hate and fear and selfishness. The change is built on love of the oppressors— but God’s merciful justice requires that some things get destroyed. As Revelation 11:18 says, “Your wrath has come, and the time… for destroying those who destroy the earth.” – Steve Garnaas-Holmes, About That Psalm

God is without sin. Always. God can love and hate without sin. Maybe I’ve tried to box God in to my limitations. Scriptures like this are a reminder that God is greater. God isn’t an enabler who tolerates destructive choices passively. To love means to take a stand. Evil and foolish choices have serious consequences, the main one being they put us in opposition to God. God is good, holy and just and thus opposes all that is not. The wonder and grace of God is that God continues to extend the offer of reconciliation and new life to the opposition.

A God small enough to fit inside your head is not big enough to meet your needs.
– Chuck Missler

PRAYER: Your Word, Your Way
Lord God, help me love you
All of you
I want to know you, follow your path
I want to be wise
Far from foolishness and evil

Help me love your word
All of it
I want to cherry pick passages
Box you in to what is comfortable for me
What I understand and want
Fashion you in my image

You are greater
Your thoughts are greater
Your greatness draws me close
Your greatness weakens my knees in awe, respect and worship

Save me from extremes
too soft, too hard
too tolerant, too legalistic
too much love, too much law
too much me

Help me love you
your word
your way
Always
Amen

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God in a Box graphic courtesy of Dustin Beasley’s blog, Endurelife

This devotion is based on the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here

Prayer: Your Word, Your Way © 2013 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.