Save us from our selfish selves, a prayer of confession (Matthew 11)

save me from myself

Based on Matthew 11:20-24

Mighty One,
We call to you for deeds of power
You answer
We see them moment by moment, day by day
The steadfast outpouring of your grace and saving love

But do we thank you, Jesus?
Do we bow before you in awe?
Do we lift our songs in adoration?
Do we turn from our selfishness and sin to testify?

No.
We see but we do not repent
We see but we do not praise
We see but we do not follow

Lord have mercy
We are hard-hearted
Entitled
Apathetic

Lord have mercy
Work your most gracious miracle in us
Save us from our selfish selves
Lord have mercy

*******
Save us from our selfish selves, a prayer of confession © 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.

Two Pockets: Healthy, Faithful Perspective

A well respected and beloved Polish Rabbi named Simcha Bunim used to say,
“Every person should have two pockets.
In one, there should be a note that says ‘for my sake was the world created.’
In the second, there should be a note that says, ‘I am dust and ashes.’”

Rabbi Bunim went on to say one must know how to use the notes, each one in its proper place and at the right time.

He knows us well

When misused, we hunker down in one pocket and make a home
We use a note to justify, judge, and deflect self examination

For my sake the world was created- I’m all that and a bag of chips
I am dust and ashes- Eeyore is my best buddy

But, when we open to the wisdom of the notes, we accept we are not one or the other. We realize we are both notes. Both pockets. We see the wisdom of the notes in the wisdom of God’s Word which goes back and forth, naming us and reminding us who we are- beloved and dust. We are both and we need both.

I am dust and ashesWhen we are too proud, too entitled, too full of ourselves, too self-sufficient, we reach in a pocket and remember anokhi afar va’efer, I am dust and ashes
I am small
I am worthless
I am mortal
I am unclean
I miss the mark, I stray from the path- that’s what the word sin literally means in Greek
I am like everyone else who has ever lived and who will live
I need a savior

Psalm 90:3 NRS
You turn us back to dust, and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”

Ecclesiastes 3:20b NIV
All come from dust, and to dust all return.

Luke 9:41 NRSV
“O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?”

In Luke 3, John the Baptist is right to remind us we are a “brood of vipers” and of our need of repentance, to turn back to God’s path, not just with our words but our actions.

for my sake was the world createdThen, when we are discouraged, overwhelmed and losing faith (when we feel like dirt) we reach in the other pocket and remember bishvili nivra ha’olam, for my sake was the world created.
I am a unique and beloved child of the King of kings
Christ loved me enough to die for me and raise me to new life
I am fearfully and wonderfully made
I am called
I am gifted
I am empowered by the Holy Spirit to do great things for God
God is using me in the salvation and transformation of the world

Psalm 8:4-8 NRSV
What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Psalm 139:14 NRSV
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.

We stand with Jesus in our baptism, water washed, anointed with the fiery dove of the Holy Spirit, named and claimed by God as beloved children.

Jesus stepped into the water not out of his need but of ours
To remind us of our great need- I am dust and ashes
To remind us who we are in Him- For my sake the world was created

Prayer for Perspective
Eternal and Beautiful God,
The One who births us and names us
Grant us perspective
A holy centering
of truth, humility and our belovedness

Not too high that we fall away from you
our need of you
our need of others

Not too low that we fail to trust
to reach out for you
to reach out with you

In you, with you, for you we are
humble and powerful
unique and alike
common and regal
priceless and dust

Grant us perspective, Merciful One
A holy centering
Let no voice be too loud
Or too soft
So we may persevere in faith
in hope
in following
in becoming
Amen

*********************
I am indebted to Rabbi Jack Moline for a blog post which provided much of the information and inspiration for this reflection.

Two Pocket Devotion and Prayer for Perspective © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are very welcome to use this in a worship or group setting with proper attribution.

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

#LukeActs2014: Woe, Woe, Whoa (Luke 11:37-54)

repentance4Read Luke 11:37-53 NRSV

When Jesus wondered out loud if he would find faith on the earth when he returned (Luke 18:8), I thought he meant that evil would increase to such an extent that it would extinguish faith. And that may well be. But lately, I have added another thought to my mind about his words. I wonder if he might have meant that faith would be so misrepresented by those of us who allege to have it, people would not touch it with a ten-foot pole. But whatever Jesus meant, we can never abide the notion that faith may diminish as time goes by. And to whatever extent we contribute to this through our contaminated witness, all we can say is, “Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy!”
– Steve Harper, Contaminated Witness

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. We 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.”

Opening Prayer: Psalm 51:10-13 NRSV
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

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 myself, others, and access to your love and grace.

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 the judgmental attitudes which 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, have mercy upon me and raise me to new life in you.

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.

Verse 47: Woe to you! For you … are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors
God how am I perpetuating the prejudices and injustices of previous generations? Help 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 how am I making you and your ways confusing? Grant me a hunger for your truth and help my words to match my actions so others find you easily.

Closing Prayer: Psalm 51:10-13 NRSV
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

******************
Woe, Woe, Whoa © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are very welcome to use this in a worship or group setting with proper attribution.

Reading for the week of March 16: Luke 11
Click Here for more information on the #LukeActs2014 Reading Plan

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Two Pockets: Healthy, Faithful Perspective

A well respected and beloved Polish Rabbi named Simcha Bunim used to say,
“Every person should have two pockets.
In one, there should be a note that says ‘for my sake was the world created.’
In the second, there should be a note that says, ‘I am dust and ashes.’”

Rabbi Bunim went on to say one must know how to use the notes, each one in its proper place and at the right time.

He knows us well

When misused, we hunker down in one pocket and make a home
We use a note to justify, judge, and deflect self examination

For my sake the world was created- I’m all that and a bag of chips
I am dust and ashes- Eeyore is my best buddy

But, when we open to the wisdom of the notes, we accept we are not one or the other. We realize we are both notes. Both pockets. We see the wisdom of the notes in the wisdom of God’s Word which goes back and forth, naming us and reminding us who we are- beloved and dust. We are both and we need both.

I am dust and ashesWhen we are too proud, too entitled, too full of ourselves, too self-sufficient, we reach in a pocket and remember anokhi afar va’efer, I am dust and ashes
I am small
I am worthless
I am mortal
I am unclean
I miss the mark, I stray from the path- that’s what the word sin literally means in Greek
I am like everyone else who has ever lived and who will live
I need a savior

Psalm 90:3 NRS
You turn us back to dust, and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”

Ecclesiastes 3:20b NIV
All come from dust, and to dust all return.

Luke 9:41 NRSV
“O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?”

In Luke 3, John the Baptist is right to remind us we are a “brood of vipers” and of our need of repentance, to turn back to God’s path, not just with our words but our actions.

for my sake was the world createdThen, when we are discouraged, overwhelmed and losing faith (when we feel like dirt) we reach in the other pocket and remember bishvili nivra ha’olam, for my sake was the world created.
I am a unique and beloved child of the King of kings
Christ loved me enough to die for me and raise me to new life
I am fearfully and wonderfully made
I am called
I am gifted
I am empowered by the Holy Spirit to do great things for God
God is using me in the salvation and transformation of the world

Psalm 8:4-8 NRSV
What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Psalm 139:14 NRSV
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.

We stand with Jesus in our baptism, water washed, anointed with the fiery dove of the Holy Spirit, named and claimed by God as beloved children.

Jesus stepped into the water not out of his need but of ours
To remind us of our great need- I am dust and ashes
To remind us who we are in Him- For my sake the world was created

Prayer for Perspective
Eternal and Beautiful God,
The One who births us and names us
Grant us perspective
A holy centering
of truth, humility and our belovedness

Not to high that we fall away from you
our need of you
our need of others

Not to low that we fail to trust
to reach out for you
to reach out with you

In you, with you, for you we are
humble and powerful
unique and alike
common and regal
priceless and dust

Grant us perspective, Merciful One
A holy centering
Let no voice be too loud
Or too soft
So we may persevere in faith
in hope
in following
in becoming
Amen

*********************
I am indebted to Rabbi Jack Moline for a blog post which provided much of the information and inspiration for this reflection.

Two Pocket Perspective and Prayer for Perspective © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are very welcome to use this in a worship or group setting with proper attribution.

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

#LukeActs2014: The Mat (Luke 5:17-26)

Please let me know the name of this work and the artist who created it so I may give proper credit.

Please let me know the name of this work and the artist who created it so I may give proper credit.

The Mat
A spiritual exercise by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
based on Luke 5:17-26
Materials: Bible, index card, pen/pencil

Read Luke 5:17-26

Remember a time when you were unable to help yourself. How did you feel? This was an “on the mat” moment. Write your name in the middle of the index card, your mat. Who carried you in your time of need? Who stayed by your side? Who moved heaven and earth to get you to what you needed? Who brought you to Jesus when you couldn’t bring yourself? Write their names in the four corners of your mat. Say a prayer of thanksgiving for them. Allow time for prayer and reflection.

Turn your card over.

Think of one or two persons who are “on the mat” right now. Write their names in the middle of the index card and write your name in the corner. How will you carry them and raise them up? How will you befriend them, companion them, stay by their side? Overcome the obstacles to connect them with what is needed? Bring them to Jesus through prayer and grace? Who will you gather to help you? Write their names in the corners as well. Ask Jesus to give you the boldness, perseverance and compassion to take up this saving work. Allow time for prayer and reflection.

We are bound together by our common experience
Sometimes on the mat, sometimes carrying the mat
Sometimes receiving, sometimes giving
We all have needs
We all need one another and we all need Jesus
Our Forgiver
Our Healer
Who looks on us with love
and takes great delight in our holy adventures

Allow time for silent thanksgiving and reflection and/or sharing.

******************
The Mat © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are very welcome to use this in a worship or group setting with proper attribution.

Reading for the week of February 2: Luke 5
Click Here for more information on the #LukeActs2014 Reading Plan

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Two Simple Questions for Spiritual Self Examination

Open, Listening. Taken at the Life Enrichment Center Fruitland Park. Photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Open, Listening. Taken at the Life Enrichment Center Fruitland Park. Photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Examen by Steven Garnaas-Holmes
From his blog Unfolding Light
Reprinted with permission

The voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
”Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight a path for the Holy One:”
… Bear fruit worthy of repentance.
                  —Matthew 3:3, 8

The ancient examen, or examination of consciousness, is a simple, two-part prayer of discernment, reviewing a recent time period (a day, an hour, week, whatever).

         • When did I feel closest to God or most in harmony with life?

Give thanks for the “consolations:” those moments when you felt the gift of life, and the presence or grace of God. Be mindful that the grace in those moments, and the God who granted it, are still with you.

         • When did I feel most out of touch or out of harmony with God or life?

Embrace also the “desolations:” the sorrow, warning, loss or other response arising from those moments when you felt out of harmony, when you felt life drain from you. Be mindful that God was with you then and is now. The inner discord you feel is the Spirit nudging you back toward the path of Life. Within you is an innate desire to be in harmony with God. Dwell with that longing; it is your repentance. Follow it: it is the path of the Holy One. Let it guide you. It is the light that will lead you through the darkness to God.

Using the Beatitudes for Self Reflection and Growth

If you know the name of this work or its creator, please let me know so I may give proper credit.

If you know the name of this work or its creator, please let me know so I may give proper credit.

In his book, The Ladder of the Beatitudes, Jim Forest makes a terrific recommendation: use The Beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5:1-12) as a set of questions for self reflection. Think about the possibilities for using them to prepare for prayer or worship or the start/end of the day. This kind of reflection provides a framework for discovering our next steps in more fully following Christ.

So, here are the questions which came to mind for me.
What questions do The Beatitudes stir in you? – Lisa <><

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

  • Am I still trying to save myself or am I completely depending on God’s love, mercy and grace?

Blessed are those who Mourn

  • Do I mourn my destructive thoughts and actions, my sin, my brokenness?
  • Am I heartbroken over the brokenness of my community and world?

Blessed are the Meek

  • Do I think too lowly or highly of my gifts, talents and strengths?
  • Have I places my gifts, talents and strengths fully under the authority and discipline of God that they may be used by God for a greater good?

Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

  • Am I doing all I can to build right relationships with God, others, myself, and the rest of creation?
  • Are other appetites taking first place in my life?

Blessed are the Merciful

  • Have I forgiven those who have done me harm?
  • Do I need to ask anyone for forgiveness?
  • Have I rejected revenge and bitterness fully?

Blessed are the Pure in Heart

  • Who or what rules my motivation and desire? God? Others? An addiction? Myself?
  • How am I cooperating with the Holy Spirit in the development of an undivided heart?

Blessed are the Peacemakers

  • How am I building bridges and breaking down dividing walls in Jesus’ Name?
  • How can I more fully abandon violence, prejudice, bias, and hate?

Blessed are the Persecuted

  • How am I loving my enemies and praying for them?
  • Am I living and practicing my faith in gracious ways everywhere I go or am I hiding it as a way of protecting myself?

***************
Click here for a meaningful and deep sermon on the Beatitudes by Nadia Bolz Webber entitled Some Modern Beatitudes.

Click here for an interesting perspective on the Beatitudes by Richard Rohr entitled How to Win by Losing. Rohr encourages us to read the Beatitudes from the perspective of how they describe Jesus as the suffering servant.

Click here for a post by Steve Garnaas Holmes entitled More Beatitudes. He used Jesus’ Beatitudes as a starting point for writing a few more reflecting modern issues. Consider trying this exercise as well.

You are welcome to use this work in a worship or group setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.