Ponder Prayer (Luke 2:15-20)

Nativity by He Qi

Nativity by He Qi

Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. – Luke 2:19

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. – Proverbs 4:23

Ponder Prayer
Welcome Little One
Holy One

So much has been said about you already
So much to take in

How can I hold you?
How can I hold you and all that you are?

Make by heart your baby book
There to gather all the names
the stories
the promises
There to pause and ponder
the silent snapshots
Treasuring you as you treasure me
Keeping them safe for times to come

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Click the link to read the scripture which inspired this reflection, Luke 2:15-20

Today’s post was made richer and clearer after reading Richard Rohr’s post, Finding God in the Depth of Silence

Ponder Prayer © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
by Lisa Degrenia (www.revlisad.com)
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Satisfying and Silencing: A Reflection and Prayer for Thanksgiving based on Psalm 65

silent sea psalm 65-7 b

Psalm 65:4b, 7 NRSV
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
Your holy temple…
You silence the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples.

When I first read Psalm 65, I was reminded of Thanksgiving. Verses 9-13 praise the bounty of God, the Lord of the Harvest, who provides water, flocks, and grain in abundance. This generous provision is a needed blessing for any community, but especially in a difficult environment like the desert.

When I reread the psalm, I was drawn to verse 7, especially the phrase “You silence… the tumult of the peoples.” Provision of food and water is a way God silences the desperate cries of deep need. It is worthy of thanks all on its own, yet there is more to praise. There is always more to praise. God goes deeper and further in satisfying and silencing because that’s God’s being, God’s desiring. God goes beyond “give us this day, our daily bread” to meet the needs of body and soul and community.

Praise is indeed due you, O God, for you…

  • answer prayer (vs. 2) so we are not left alone in the monkey brain, the incessant inner monologue of our questioning and worry.
  • forgive our sins (vs. 3) so we are not abandoned to the mayhem of twisted choices and broken relationships.
  • provide us a home in your family (vs. 4) so we are not overwhelmed by crushing waves of isolation. We so need the companionship and support of others, especially the wise and faithful.
  • deliver us, the deepest of need, so we are not left despairing and hopeless in the chaos of trying to save ourselves.

Prayer based on Psalm 65
Praise is due to you, Generous God,
We commit ourselves to you alone
For you answer prayer and welcome all who seek you
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence all competing and false voices
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

When sin and pain overwhelm us, you forgive and heal
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence the chaos and destruction
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

Bring us near. Raise a song in our hearts.
A shout of praise and thanksgiving in your sanctuary.
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence all apathy and skepticism
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

By awesome deeds, you answer us with deliverance,
O God of our salvation;
You are the hope of all the ends of the earth
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence prejudice, suspicion, and hate
Silence the guns of war and the rhetoric of terror
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it
You provide the people with grain, Great God of Abundance
Raise up a shout and a song of joy across the whole world
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence the cries of hunger and need
Silence the cries of injustice and despair
O Lord, open our lips, and our mouths will declare your praise.

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Satisfying and Silencing, reflection and prayer © 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information on publishing this work in any form.

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Only Beloved Son and Sacrifice (Genesis 22, John 3)

Jesus, The Coming Messiah
Jesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 2: The Messiah as Only Beloved Son and Sacrifice
Readings: Genesis 22:1-18; John 3:16-17

Genesis 22:12, The Voice
Don’t lay your hand on the boy or do anything to harm him. I know now that you respect the one True God and will be loyal to Him and follow His commands, because you were willing to give up your son, your only son, to Me.

John 3:16-17, The Voice
For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. Here’s the point. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction.

This story is sometimes referred to as the sacrifice of Isaac. In other places it is called the sacrifice of Abraham. It is one of the most powerful and disturbing stories in all scripture. God instructs Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his beloved son, his long awaited child of promise.

Isaac was to be the first of a great nation; of countless descendants. “Like the sand on the shore…like the stars in the sky… a blessing to the nations,” God vowed. How would this happen if Isaac was dead?

Abraham does not seem to question. He seems to moves forward with purpose- obedient, full of faith and resolve.

Isaac asks about the sacrifice, and Abraham replies, “God will supply.” (verse 8.) Is his voice strong and confident or does it crack and catch with emotion? Does Abraham wonder if Isaac is the sacrifice God has provided? We do not know. What else was said? Again we do not know. The two fall silent as the altar is built, as Isaac is bound and laid upon the wood.

God the Father stops the sacrifice of Father Abraham’s beloved, promised son. Whatever needed to be confirmed in Abraham has been found.

As Abraham said, God the Father indeed provides the sacrifice for that day and later the sacrifice for all time- a beloved, promised Son. In the mystery of Trinity, God is Father and Son and Spirit, Savior and Sacrifice and Breath. God alone is bound and laid upon the wood. No blood will be shed but God’s own. – Lisa Degrenia

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
Beloved Son who makes the way for us to be children of God

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Sacrifice of the ages for our forgiveness and salvation

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Heaven and earth fall silent before such wondrous love

What will you ask of me?
How will you test my reverence and loyalty?
In that moment I pray I will be found willing
And faithful
And worthy
That I will know beyond all doubt the command is from you
And in that knowing, I will trust you
Hand steady
Mind focused
Ears tuned to your next command

Help me remember, You will provide
Here I am

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Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible Reading Plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered? I look forward to your comments.

If you’re in Sarasota, please drop by Trinity United Methodist Church for one of our seasonal events or services or just to say, “Hi.” You’re always welcome and wanted.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <

The Messiah as Only Beloved Son and Sacrifice © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

A Glimpse of your Glory, a reflection on Matthew 14.22-26

boat_on_still_water_by_crimson1d

Based on Matthew 14:22-36

The storm rages, where are you? Wave after wave crashing against us. The air is full of howling and screaming and struggle. My eyes and flesh burn with a thousand salty stings. I am blind. In the oppressive and unending darkness only the ghost of death approaches.

Your voice breaks through, “Do not be afraid.” It is you Jesus. Life not death. You are always present no matter how terrifying the circumstance, no matter how desperate the situation.

You step into our fearful and fragile boat. All is calm. A profound peace. A matchless silence. We wonder and worship, in awe at another glimpse of your glory.

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A Glimpse of your Glory, a reflection on Matthew 14.22-26
© 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.

Sermon Recording – Ceasing (Mark 6)

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Message: Ceasing 
Scriptures: Mark 6:30-32
Offered 1/1/17, New Year’s Day, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

Classic New Year’s Resolutions
1. Exercise, eat right, lose weight
2. Quit smoking, drinking, drugging
3. Get serious about my spiritual life
4. Budget, pay off debt, save for the future
5. Organize my house
6. Organize my calendar so I can do more in less time. If I keep my scheduled focused, I can work more efficiently, do more things in less time.

Being Productive
1. Makes me feel important, needed
2. Keeps the adrenaline pumping. You can be addicted to stress.
3. Hurry keeps everything on a safe superficial level. Depth takes time. I don’t have to look closely at my relationships or my situation or my soul. I don’t have to feel my feelings fully. I’m fine as long as I’m busy. No, we’re not fine we’re sick.

Hurry Sickness – an unhealthy, continuous internal drive to accomplish more, achieve more, experience more in less and less time. More and more has diminishing returns. It keeps us from living well and ultimately destroys our soul.

John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted
For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith.
It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.

Do you want a life like this, or do you want something different?
Jesus offers an alternative.

Mark 6:30-32 NRSV
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.

Jesus’ Cure for Hurry Sickness is Ceasing
Ceasings = Solitude, Silence, Slowing, Sabbath
Ceasing distraction and noise and trying to do it in our own strength
Ceasing hurry. Ceasing in order to seek.

Jesus practiced ceasing regularly throughout his ministry
1. At the beginning he spent 40 days alone in the wilderness and at the end he spent the night in Gethsemane before crucifixion
2. Spent the night alone in prayer before choosing the disciples
3. Time away after the death of John the Baptist
4. After feeding the 5000, after healing a leper, after the 12 returned from preaching/teaching

Verse 31 says they were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. That sounds like us.

Jesus was busy, but never hurried
Busy = full schedule, many activities, demanding
Hurried = unhealthy inner drive, keeping up appearances, proving yourself
Hurry is based on fear and worry.
Hurry is constantly preoccupied, never fully present.

Busy = constantly reminded of God and my need of God
Hurried = unavailable to God

Vance Havner said, “If you don’t come apart for a while, you will come apart in a while.”

Jesus’ Cure for Hurry Sickness is Ceasing
Solitude Silence Slowing Sabbath
Creating space to listen. Trusting God will provide.
Stopping the self medication stimulation, distraction, and society scripts
Allowing God to hit the reset button

How to practice ceasing?
Quiet time, quiet place
Little ceasings throughout the day

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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.

sermon © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.