Sermon Recording- Speak, Responding to the Pulse Orlando Massacre

orlando shakes angels

Persons from the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre protecting those mourning the Pulse victims.

Message: Speak, Responding to the Pulse Orlando Massacre
Scripture: Ezekiel 33:1-9
Offered 6/26/16 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers

When we don’t speak, people die.

If we are silent people die
Speak! Keep speaking- Speak up, Speak out
Keep speaking until
Hate is overcome by affection
Bullying is overcome by blessing
Discrimination is overcome by opportunity
Violence is no more
This place looks like heaven
Lisa Degrenia 

In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.
– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

I swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe. – Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Speech

A Statement from the Bishop and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church in Response to the June 12, 2016, Violent Crime of Hate against the LGBTQ Community in Orlando, Florida

2016 Florida Annual Conference Resolution– Help End Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning Individuals

Worship Resources for this Message 
Prayer for Violent Times by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Prayer: All Will Be Revealed by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
The Sentinel’s Prayer by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Blessing in a Time of Violence by Jan Richardson

Prayer offered by the Rev. Dr. Steve Harper at the Florida Annual Conference prayer vigil for all involved with the Pulse Orlando Shooting
Almighty God,
We come before you in this moment as one human family, all of us created in your image and intended to glorify you with our lives–particularly in the ways we treat each other.

We also stand in your presence as heirs of the first sin after the Fall–the sin of murder, continuing to behave like Cain in our refusals to care for the lives of others, harming and murdering them with our words, our actions, our silence, and our judgment.

We come before you confessing our sins of commission and omission–the sins of saying and doing too much or too little–the sins of silence and shunning–the sin of self -righteousness which is no righteousness at all.

Forgive us for all the ways we have failed to love one another, to care for one another, and as the shooting in our city reveals, the particular ways we have failed to love our lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, LatinX family, and their allies– turning a deaf ear to their pain and acting against them in ways which create a spirit of fear and a culture of discrimination that spawns acts of violence.

We especially lament the ways we have failed to love as Christians and as United Methodists, ways we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves–creating the false impression that our silence, our skewed perspectives and our retributive actions reflect the will of God. We humbly repent and are sorry for these our misdoings. The remembrance of them is grievous unto us.

Move among us by your Holy Spirit and remove our hearts of stone, replacing them with hearts of flesh that love you and everyone with a love as inclusive as your love for the world. Remove all walls that divide and drive far from us the desire to ever build a wall again.

We pray for the souls of the departed–those killed in the Pulse nightclub, and for their families and friends who grieve their deaths. We pray for the others who have been wounded, those whose lives will from now on be marked by this tragedy. And we pray for the soul of the one who committed this crime, and for his family and friends who are shamed and saddened by what he did.

We thank you for all those in the law enforcement and medical communities who risked their lives and offered their care to save others, and for our civic and religious leaders who must now guide us to beat our swords into plough shares and study war no more.

God, dwell among us to give us comfort, but not simply a comfort which enables us to move beyond our grief, but a comfort which causes us to move beyond our sin, so that we may be instruments of your peace–daily sowing love where there has been hatred, replacing injury with pardon, instilling faith where there has been doubt–until that day when justice rolls down and mercy like an ever flowing stream. Amen

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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.

TED Talk Experiment 2016- Week 7

TED talk blog graphic 2
We’ve shared 30 talks already. Time is flying! The talks for this week came from the “surprise me” section of the TED website. Click watch, then surprise me, then a length of time and topic. I chose courageous.

Want to be an activist? Start with your toys.
McKenna Pope
TED Youth 2013 New Orleans Louisiana, November 2013
At age 13, this firecracker started a campaign petitioning Hasbro to change it’s marketing strategy for the Easy Bake Oven. And it worked! Why did she do it? Because she loved her brother. Love in Action!! May your tribe increase.

The Danger of Silence
Clint Smith
TED@NYC New York City, July 2014
Stunningly beautiful and powerful. I see myself in his confession. I hear what my voice can become if I follow his courageous example.  

The Bridge Between Suicide and Life
Kevin Briggs
TED 2014 Vancouver BC, March 2014
A thoughtful, authentic discussion of a police officer’s experience helping persons who are considering suicide via jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge

How I Learned to Communicate my Inner Life with Asperger’s
Alix Generous
TED Women 2015 Monterey California, May 2015
A brilliant and funny young woman shares her difficult and courageous experience with Asperger’s and the new technology she’s creating to help others with the same condition.

My Story from Gangland Daughter to Star Teacher
Pearl Arredondo
TED Talks Education New York City, April 2013
“Everyone has a story, everyone has a struggle, and everyone needs help along the way. And I am going to be their help along the way.”

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I’m trying an experiment in 2016. Maybe you’d like to try it with me.

Here’s where I am
I’m tired of the spin. I’m tired of ideas, news, and entertainment really being one long sales pitch for profit or power.

I’m longing for creativity, curiosity, and inspiration. I’m in search of passionate people willing to speak to the truth and complexity of living with a heart of hope. I want to hear from authentic humans who are in the trenches working for the greater good.

I think I’ve found them in the TED community.

“TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On TED.com, we’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other, both online and at TED and TEDx events around the world, all year long.”

TED’s been around for 30 years. I’ve heard about them and even watched a couple of talks, but I’ve never spent any concentrated time mining the good stuff. So….

Here’s the plan
Watch 5 enthusiastic, inspiring TED Talk presenters a week for a year.
Apply and share the goodness.


Two Translations of Psalm 4

Psalm 4 in Hebrew

Psalm 4 in Hebrew

Psalm 4, reimagined by Steve Garnaas Holmes
O Love, when I cry out in silence,
you are the One Who Hears.
Between the rock and the hard place,
you give me room.

I have carried the stone of shame too far,
as if opinions could give me life,
as if human judgment is not a lie.
But you, Beloved, hold me close,
and know who I truly am.
When I am disturbed I am still yours.
I soak in this grace, silent,
letting it seep into me.

I surrender everything to your love.
Help me to trust this with my life.
I ignore the cynics who don’t see
your blessing in everything,
your face beaming at me.
You are a gushing spring of joy in me,
my jackpot, my victory dance.

In your peace I can stop. I let go.
I lie down.
In your peace I can sleep.
I am safe. I am yours.

Psalm 4, translated by Nan C Merrill in Psalms for Praying

Answer me when I call, O Beloved of my heart!
You enveloped me in Love when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me now; hear my prayer.

O friends, how long will my reputation suffer shame?
How long will you listen to false words
and seek what is less than good?

You know that the Beloved dwells with those
who are filled with love;
and hears when our hearts cry out.
Though you may feel angry,
do not give in to fear;
Commune with the Heart of your heart
as you rest,
and be in silence.
Make peace with your fears,
and trust in Love.

There are many who say,
“Grant us special favors, O Mighty One!
Bestow upon us your grace that we may prosper!”
Love has brought more joy to my heart
than they have when their banks are filled.
In peace will I spend my days and sleep at night
For You alone, my Beloved, take away my fears.

Ponder Prayer (Luke 2:15-20)

book and candle
2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 17 Reading: Luke 2:15-20
The Shepherds’ Visit

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

This post is part of the 2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas. Click here for more information, including a list of all the readings.

Ponder Prayer © 2014 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 and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.

Solitude and the Spiritual Life

Solitude by Serhat Demiroglu

Mark 6:31a (NRSV)
Jesus said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”

Solitude is the place of purification.
-Martin Buber

There is a physical desert, inhabited by a few exceptional men and women who are called to live there; but more importantly, there is an inner desert, into which each one of us must one day venture. It is a voice; an empty space for solitude and testing. –Frere Ivan

The “prayer of quiet” is a most simple and universal path. Of all the religious rituals and practices I know of, nothing will lead us to that place of nakedness and vulnerability more than regular experiences of solitude and silence, where our ego identity falls away, where our explanations don’t mean anything, where our superiority doesn’t matter and we have to sit there in our naked “who-ness.” If God wants to get through to us, and the Trinitarian Flow wants to come alive in us, that’s when God has the best chance. – Richard Rohr

An extended quote from Creating a Life with God by Daniel Wolpert
If you desire to seek the presence of God in your life, be silent and rest in prayer. Only through this interior quiet can you truly listen for Jesus.

Why is silence necessary for listening, and what happens when we enter into the silence of solitary prayer? We begin to let go of ourselves, which allows us to hear God.

God is very gracious and patient. God does not usually interrupt us or push rudely into our affairs. If we choose to ignore God, God allows that. Such is the humility of a God who died on a cross.

Therefore if we wish to pray – and by this I mean open ourselves up to the possibility that God will speak to us, teach us, transform us – we must allow space in the busy world we have created. Like the ones who went into the desert, we must go to a place where the world does not overwhelm us.

Master of the Universe
Grant me the ability to be alone.
May it be my custom to go outdoors each day
among the trees and grasses,
among all growing things
and there may I be alone,
and enter into prayer
to talk with the one
that I belong to.
-Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav

Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and Him alone. If we really believe not only that God exists but also that He is actively present in our lives—healing, teaching, and guiding—we need to set aside a time and space to give Him our undivided attention. Jesus says, “Go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place.” (Matthew 6:6) – Henri Nouwen, Making All Things New

He [John the Baptist] is in the wilderness. Obviously because he finds these surroundings appropriate to his life- the parched solitude, the endless spaces, where no one can feel at home. Inevitably we keep discovering that we too are in the wilderness, the wilderness of a great city, the wilderness of isolation, a wilderness that seems to have no center, a wilderness we cannot feel at home in. -Karl Rahner

Deprivation is neither the focus nor the final word of the wilderness. As the honey-eating John knew, the desert offers its own delights. What the wilderness gives us is a path that helps us perceive where our true treasure lies. And does not merely give us a path: empties us enough so that a path is made within us. Through us. Of us. A road for the holy to enter the world. A way for the Christ who comes.
Jan L. Richardson, Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas

A solitude is the audience-chamber of God. –Walter Savage Landor

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life. – John Muir

Loneliness is not something from which we must flee
but the place from where we can cry out to God,
where God will find us and we can find God.
-Jean Vanier, The Broken Body

Quotes from The Way of the Heart, by Henri Nouwen

  • Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self.
  • We have, indeed, to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw every day, shake off our compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord.