A Prayer and Reflection Based on Luke 10-11

summer in the scriptures luke (1)Prayer based on Luke 10:1-12
The Mission of the Seventy

This is the glory of your saving love
That you don’t just bless us
Heal us
Guard and guide us

That you don’t just forgive us
Redeem us
Save and sanctify us

For you, that is too light a thing

You make a place for us in your saving work
You call us and empower us
Each of us

You make a place for us in your family and a place for us in your plan
that we might experience your power and the wielding of that power
that we might experience the fullness of your grace

The glory of your saving love is
Your hope and your hope made real in the world
Your love and your love in action

Glory to you, Most Blessed Savior!
Glory to you, Lord of Mercy and Light!
Glory to you and to the fulfillment of Your Kingdom
in us and in all!
Amen!

Based on Luke 11:37-53
A wise person once advised me, when you come across scriptures where Jesus is instructing or correcting the Scribes and the Pharisees, stop, listen, and allow the Holy Spirit to examine your own heart. Pastors, small group leaders, and ministry leaders are often more like them than we want to admit. They were the “churched people” of their day. They too took their faith seriously, worshiped deeply, prayed and read the scriptures searching for God, answered a call, and studied hard to prepare themselves for leading God’s people, bore the responsibility and sacrifice of leadership.

Reflection and meditation on these texts keep us humble and soft in God’s hands. We need God’s grace and leading to avoid falling into the same enslaving practices.

In this light, let us reflect on Jesus’ warnings from Luke 11, often referred to as “the woes.”

Verse 42: Woe to you … for you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God
God, reveal in me where have I focused on rules and details above you.
Free me from the need to control and micromanage.
Free me from blocking access to your love and grace and justice.

Verse 43: Woe to you … for you love to have the seat of honor … and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces
God, reveal where my pride, ego, and need for attention have become false idols.
Forgive me and heal me of judgmental attitudes that separate me from you and from others.

Verse 44: Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it
God, reveal every hidden thing I think and do which hurts others.
Reveal my hypocrisy.
Reveal where my attitudes and actions bringing contamination rather than community.
Lord, bury me with you and raise me to new life.

Verse 46: Woe also to you … for you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.
God, reveal how my actions and expectations are burdening others unnecessarily.
Forgive me for placing myself above others and beyond accountability.
Humble me and grow in me a love and solidarity with all people.
Turn my faith into compassionate action.

Verse 47: Woe to you! For you … are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors
God, reveal how I am perpetuating the prejudices and injustices of previous generations.
Heal me and empower me to join you in breaking this cycle.

Verse 52: Woe to you… for you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.
God, reveal how I am making you and your ways confusing and difficult.
Grant me a hunger for your truth and kingdom living.
Help my words to match your words, my ways your ways, so others find you easily.

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For the next few months, I’m reading a chapter from the Gospels each day. This is part of the Summer in the Scriptures reading plan sponsored by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Click Here for the reading plan.

You’re most welcome to read along and to join the Facebook discussion group, Summer in the Scriptures. You don’t need to be a Methodist or attend a Methodist church. All are welcome and all means all.

As part of the Facebook group, I’ve been supplying prayers based on the day’s reading. Feel free to post your prayers and observations based on the readings here or there as well.

May the grace of the Gospels, the challenge, and the call, inspire us to great faith and great good works in Jesus’ name. – Lisa <

The Glory of You Saving Love © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Reflection based on Jesus’ Woe’s © 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.

Coronavirus- Three Critical Reflection Questions for Moving Forward

Microscopic view of Coronavirus, a pathogen that attacks the respiratory tract. Analysis and test, experimentation. Sars

We’re living a mile-marker moment in the history of humanity. Like the invention of the printing press or WWII, life to come will be marked as before and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

I attended a webinar sponsored by Fresh Expressions and Fuller Seminary entitled Two Churches at Once. It recognized the dramatic and lasting changes we’re experiencing right now due to the pandemic.

Click Here to register to watch the video of the webinar.

During the webinar, I found these questions from the Rev. Dr. J.R. Briggs profound. I’ll be spending time with them in the coming days and hope they will be helpful to you as well.

Thoughtful, rich questions like these will help us move forward in clarifying our priorities, purpose, and core beliefs in a new age. They’ll also help us live them out in the new normal.

I’d love to hear your responses. Feel free to share them below- Lisa <><

What has coronavirus taken away? 

What has coronavirus not taken away? 

What has coronavirus given us?

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© 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Now Offering Online Devotions

Greetings, dear ones.

I’m doing my best to get creative so we can stay connected during our time of social distancing and quarantine. It’s hard because of the steep technology learning curve. (I refer to hard things as eating frogs!) It’s also exciting to conquer something new!

On Wednesdays, I’m offering a scripture reflection and prayer time via Facebook Live on our congregation’s Facebook Page. Join us at 8:00 am Eastern time or watch the video when it’s a good time for you.

This morning, we reflected on Psalm 27. Boy, did I need these hope-full reminders from God’s word.

On Wednesdays, I’m also offering an evening check-in time of reflection at 7:00pm Eastern time, again via Facebook Live on our congregation’s Facebook Page.
https://www.facebook.com/TrinityUMCSarasota/ 

For you folks who are into churchy words- Wednesday mornings are a type of Lectio Divina and Wednesday nights are a type of Examen. Both are very friendly to folks new to these practices.

We’re also offering worship on Facebook Live Sunday mornings at 9:00am and 10:30am.

PS- You can hear me struggling with the music on today’s recording. If you have any suggestions on a better way to provide music for these gatherings, please pass it along. The suggestion needs to honor copyright laws, such as using pre-recorded music. We do have a CCLI license.

Be safe. Be encouraged. Be hope-full. – Lisa <><

Stay Connected

 

An Examen in the Wesleyan Tradition by Bishop Ken Carter

light sea dawn landscape

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

An examen is a set of reflection questions that encourage spiritual honesty and growth.

Reflection is an ancient practice, with references in the Bible (Lamentations 3:40-41; Galatians 6:4-5; 2 Corinthians 13:5). Ignatius of Loyola encouraged the practice with the early Jesuits, as did John Wesley with the early Methodists.

This examen was written by Ken Carter, Bishop of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. It concludes a message, now monograph, entitled Defining and Growing an Inclusive, Gracious and Evangelical Center: The Future(s) of The United Methodist Church.

I encourage you to read this faithful, thoughtful work. Click Here for the entire message.

If you’re considering adding an examen to your spiritual practices, this would be a great choice, especially during Lent as you prepare for the victorious message of Christ at Easter. You could use the entire examen daily, several times a week, or one section each day.
– Lisa <><

Grace
I begin today by claiming my identity as one who is created in the image of God.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I am of sacred worth and am uniquely gifted.
When I come to myself—the truth of who I am—I experience blessing.
I reflect on those persons who have been a part of my life today, who have seen this in me, who have encouraged me.
Have I really been attentive to them?
Have I fully accepted their gifts?
I stay with these encounters for a moment.
I see the faces of these persons and listen to their voices again.

Repentance
Next, I see the moments of my day that I regret.
I rely upon the fruit of the Holy Spirit, especially love, peace, and patience, for help in returning to these moments.
This is uncomfortable. And yet repentance that is of God is a return to the love God wants for me.
It is the journey home.
For a moment, I consider the ways I am stuck or lost. Why do I resist change?
I ask for the courage to return to God.

Confession
As I reflect on the day, I ask God to reveal the harm that I have done to others and the harm I have done to myself.
I make an honest assessment of my failures and mistakes.
Where I have not loved my neighbor as myself, I confess that I have sinned.
What is the sin that separates me from those closest to me?
How does arrogance, judgmentalism, ego or privilege distort the way I see others?
How have I buried my birthright gifts and refused to enjoy and share them?

Faith
I ask for the gift of God’s healing and renewing grace.
I set aside my own claims of righteousness or merit.
In faith, I say yes to Jesus Christ, who loves me and gave himself for me.
I place my trust in Jesus Christ alone for the gift of salvation.
And for a moment, I consider how I am actually living by faith.
Do I find it difficult to trust?
I return to the good news that I embraced when I first began to walk with Jesus.
I ask that God would empower me to live this day in faith.

Love
God has created me. God knows me.
God’s sacrificial love in the crucified Jesus is for my salvation.
When I have received the gift of faith, I become a more loving person.
And when I have placed my faith and trust in Jesus Christ, I become a part of his body, which is the church.
I boldly ask that I will be made perfect in love in this life—
that I will love God and love the people I encounter each day in God.
I ask that my love for God would grow as I read the scriptures,
spend time in prayer and receive communion as often as possible.
I ask God to give me a greater love for others,
especially those to whom I have made promises and covenants,
and those with whom I have differences.
I ask God for the happiness is taking the daily risk of living in grace, practicing repentance and confession,
and growing in a faith that expresses itself through love.
Amen.

Sermon- Self Reflection (2 Corinthians 3)

Sermon Series Seeking God 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Seeking God
Message 4 of 5: Self Reflection
Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 13:5; Lamentations 3:40-41; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 2/2/2020 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of the entire traditional worship service, including the message.

I have absolutely no control over the middle of my day. Every day is different. The unplanned and unexpected happen regularly. The only part of my day I have any possibility of anchoring is the beginning and end of my day, the bookends.

What I’m starting to do, and invite you to do, is to anchor, to ground the bookends of our day with spiritual practices that keep us connected to God.

I need these practices so that when the unexpected happens, troubles or joys, I’m ready for it spiritually.

Testimony of the Death of Hal Stanton
The death of the faithful is not a tragedy. It’s, of course, sad and we grieve. We love and we miss Hal.

But Hal was ready. He had conversations the days before his death that were full of peace, hope, gratitude, and love. His wife Margot was ready. This doesn’t diminish the sadness or grieving. We have the sadness and grieving while we are also anchored in the promises and hope of heaven. It can be both at the same time.

Hal’s kids were ready. While we were gathered around his hospital bed last night, we sang his favorite hymn, we spoke to him and held his hand, we prayed, and it was peace. We were all moving forward together in the light, love, and presence of God.

I want to be ready. I want to be ready to serve and love and have a good word from God. And I want to be ready when its time to go home to heaven. By the grace and power of Almighty God, we can be.

If I had to start from absolute scratch with spiritual practices, what would be the first three I would want to know, practice and teach? These timeless three create a sacred rhythm in our lives: Scripture, Stillness, and Self Reflection.

Scripture
We all need a scripture reading plan to read the Word of God for ourselves. In reading the Word of God we begin to know what’s God’s voice and what isn’t. We get grounded in the promises of God and the character of God. We’re strengthened by the stories of God’s people.

Click Here for a great reading plan for beginners
Click Here for a plan that covers the entire Bible

Stillness
Stop and spend time with God no agenda. We come simply, openly, honestly, just as we are. Our world is busy, full, and loud. I need stillness to remember- Be still and know that I am God and that I’m not God.

Click Here for last week’s message on stillness

Self-Reflection
Start your day with Scripture Reading and Silence. End your day by reflecting on it with God

All of these practices, including self-reflection, are rooted in Scripture.
2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?…

The presence of God is with us and in us and through us.

Lamentations 3:40-41
Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands to God in heaven.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

The practices of scripture, stillness, and self-reflection bring us freedom. All of us can have unveiled faces before God. We can take off the mask and be real and honest. These practices bring transformation in our lives- we are made new, we are healed, we are forgiven, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

These practices are not only rooted in scripture but are also practiced throughout the history of God’s people. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), the founder of the Jesuits, wrote a set of reflection questions. They’re wonderful. They’re known as The Examen and are still used today.

John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism, wrote 22 questions. John’s an overachiever and a little compulsive. These questions are also wonderful and still used today.

Our set of 8 questions are a mixture of questions from many sources. They have the essence of Ignatius’ Examen and Wesley’s questions.

Self Reflection is a new practice for me. I start my day with scripture and stillness and end my day with self-reflection. Bookends. This is the sacred rhythm I’m trying out. Find the sacred rhythm that works for you.

When I did the self-reflection questions right before bed, I found I was way too tired. So I moved the practice to the end of my workday to help me transition from work to home.

Here’s what I noticed since using the self-reflection questions
It helps me decompress from the day.
It keeps me awake and alive in the Holy Spirit.
It helps me to be more intentional- eyes to see, ears to hear

I also noticed the longer I keep to the practice, the richer it becomes. It started off simple, even superficial. But as the days passed, I began to trust myself more so I could be more honest with myself. I also began to trust I could be more and more honest with God.

Let’s walk through the questions.

1. What happened today?
Make a quick bullet list or write a narrative

2. Glory Sighting: Where did you see evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in others? In and through you?
This helps us not gloss over God’s presence. We practice seeing God, praising God, and testifying to it.

3. What did you read/hear/learn?
Christians are lifelong learners. Jesus was a teacher. We are students. We are disciples.

4. What are you thankful for?
Gratitude opens us to the joy of the Lord which is our strength.

5. How are you feeling emotionally?
Be honest and seek Christ’s perspective

6. Where did you miss a Spirit-led opportunity of loving God, others, and yourself?
This is a lovely way of saying, “Where did you blow it today? Where did you embarrass the family of God?” 

We need a point of confession. There’s something about writing it down which relieves the burden of guilt (real or false). I’m not trying to hide it from God or take care of it in my own strength. There’s an old phrase, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” God please heal me, forgive me, and help me.

7. What are you asking the Holy Spirit to do in you and through you?
This is the question of mission, purpose, and call. God help me fulfill your plan for me.

8. What will you do tomorrow to be more available to the movement of the Holy Spirit?
This is intention and action. By doing it late in the day, you already have the intention for the next day.

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Sermon- Self Reflection © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.