My time, my talents, my calling- a prayer of surrender

srrrender quoteLord, the opportunities of the world stretch before me. Many are good but only a few are best. Many could be my path in you, but far fewer actually are.

My time is a gift from you
My time is precious
My time is short

My talents are a gift from you
They can only bless and influence
when focused and deployed with purpose

My calling is a gift from you
I cannot do all things
Save me from wanting to
and trying to

I surrender it all to you
I trust you

Focus my time and talents and calling for your greatest glory. I am at peace confident in your best purposes for me. Grant me courage to step forward faithfully and leave behind faithfully. Amen

My time, my talents, my calling- a prayer of surrender © 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.

Christ Have Mercy, a prayer of confession based on Matthew 9.9-13

christe eleisonBased on Matthew 9:9-13

Mercy is not merely feeling sympathy. Mercy is extended by one who has the power to condemn or punish but chooses not to. We choose not to criticize, not to say, “I told you so,” not to exact our “pound of flesh” — not to avenge. As Jesus shows us in his interaction with the woman caught in adultery, mercy does not look back at what the person has done but forward to what the person can do in the future. – Mary Lou Redding. The Power of a Focused Heart: 8 Life Lessons from the Beatitudes

Christ have mercy on me,
a sinner.

I have failed to love as You Love
I have treated others as objects and obstacles
– less than human
– less than made in the image of God

I have elevated goals, persons, and things
to the throne of my heart
I have procrastinated
I have wasted your precious gifts of time and talent and treasure

I am proud in unhealthy ways
I am apathetic
I have raised myself too high… hid myself too low

Trusting in you and your promises
I call on your Mighty Name for mercy
I ask your forgiveness, Gracious Savior
I surrender to your healing, Great Physician
I claim your resurrection power, Risen One

You are already here
Calling me from the old to the new
Speaking my name
Welcoming me to table
Hallelujah! I will follow…

Christ Have Mercy, 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.

Prayer for Doing the New, Hard Thing

do hard things

Jesus, thank you for the gifts of time and talent. Thank you for calling and missions, for gracing me with purpose and meaning.

Forgive me for squandering your gifts – for hiding them, abandoning them, labeling them, dismissing them, postponing them for another season.

The time is now. Life is precious and short.

Shower me with your courage to try. Fill me with your perseverance and focus. Flood me with your Holy Spirit, for with you all things are possible.

I am listening. I’m following.

May all I do and say point to your saving love, your steadfast presence, and your empowering hope. Glory to you alone. Amen.

Prayer for Doing the New, Hard Thing  © 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.

Prayers for a New Year

huge clock

Please let me know the artist of this piece that I may give him/her credit.

Three Short Prayers for a New Year
We seek your truth
Your love
Your healing
You will be found

Open my being
to share who I am in you
to receive who they are in you
to rejoice in who we are in you

For the blessings of today
which remind us of the
blessings of the past
which point forward to the
blessings still to come
we give you thanks

Prayer for a New Year, based on Psalm 90
Eternal and Immortal One,
You have been our refuge from age to age.
Before the mountains were born,
Before the earth and the world came to birth,
From eternity to eternity,
You are God.

To you, a thousand years are like a yesterday
Like a watch of the night

You return us to dust
You sweep us away like a dream
We are like grass
In the morning we thrive,
We blossom
But come evening,
We are withered and dry

Teach us to number our days
That we may gain your wise heart

Fill us with your faithful love
That we may sing your joyful story

Show us your wondrous deeds
That we may see your transforming power
That generations to come may see it as well

Let your favor, O God be upon us,
That the work of our hands
May bear forth your blessing
And bring your glory. Amen.

penitence by larry poncho brown

Penitence by Larry Poncho Brown

Prayer of Confession for a New Year
As the new year is born,
We remember and regret…

Forgive us, Holy One,
When we keep You at a distance
When we defy your bidding
When we make it harder
for people to know you

Forgive us, Holy One,
When we deny our weakness
When we wallow in our weakness
When we take advantage
of the weakness of others

Forgive us, Holy One,
When we refuse Your counsel
When we waste your gifts
When we withhold Your compassion from others

Silent Confession

As the new year is born
We labor to look forward
Our hearts fill with hope
For you are making all things new
even us… Amen

Click Here for a collection of quotes entitled Counting Our Days

Three short prayers for the New Year © 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Prayer for a New Year, based on Psalm 90 © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Prayer of Confession for the New Year © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

You are welcome to use these prayers in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish them in any form.

A Prayer for Thanksgiving- Most Blessed, Most Beautiful Christ

christus-hand-lds-adapted1 Corinthians 3:21-23 NRSV
So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Most blessed, most beautiful Christ,
in you we receive all things

The receiving takes growth, so you give us guiding-
saints and sages and scripture
Thank you for the guiding

The receiving takes others, so you give us the world-
nature and neighbors and nations
Thank you for the world

The receiving takes change, so you give us seasons-
life and death and new life
Thank you for the seasons

The receiving takes time, so you give us time-
present and future and forever
Thank you for the time

Most blessed, most beautiful Christ
You give us yourself
And in you, O Christ
We belong
To you and to God and to all
Thank you for the giving

For a worship setting, consider the following version. One voice prays the portion in regular print while the congregation prays the portion in bold print.

Most blessed, most beautiful Christ,
in you we receive all things

The receiving takes growth, so you give us guiding-
saints and sages and scripture
Thank you for the guiding
in you we receive all things

The receiving takes others, so you give us the world-
nature and neighbors and nations
Thank you for the world
in you we receive all things

The receiving takes change, so you give us seasons-
life and death and new life
Thank you for the seasons
in you we receive all things

The receiving takes time, so you give us time-
present and future and forever
Thank you for the time
in you we receive all things

Most blessed, most beautiful Christ
You give us yourself
And in you, O Christ
We belong
To you and to God and to all
Thank you for the giving
in you we receive all things

The congregation now offers their own prayers of thanksgiving, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer

Most Blessed, Most Beautiful Christ © 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.

Advent Photo-A-Day: Day 4, Time

timeThe thought behind the photo:
How did it get so late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness
how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?
– Dr. Seuss

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein. – H. Jackson Brown

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 90:12 NRSV 
Teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.

Time is too slow for those who wait,
too swift for those who fear,
too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice,
but for those who love, time is eternity.
– Henry Van Dyke

The God who often takes eons to bring about a particular result also works moment by moment, constantly revealing Godself, taking flesh in the everyday unfolding of our lives. – Jan Richardson, Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 39:4-5 (NIV)
Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.

The December 4, 2013 devotion from 
SCRIPTURE: Romans 13:11-14 The Message
But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!

We cannot escape time. Social media reminds us of what’s happening real time. Many operate on a 9-5 schedule. We can watch a clock tick and literally watch time pass us by.

Don’t get too caught up in your day-to-day obligations that you lose track of time, Paul writes. In other translations it says, you know what time it is. These images of night and day, sleeping and waking, doing and squandering are Paul’s way of saying, be ready, Christ is coming any day now.

Paul’s admonition to pay attention isn’t unlike what we might hear today: What are you going to do with your life? Stop wasting time. Wake up. Snap out of it.

Have you woken up to see what God is doing now in your life, and anticipate what God will do in the future? Be up and awake to what God is doing! 

Thank you Rethink Church for a great way to make preparing for Christmas more meaningful. Join me and thousands more in setting aside time to reflect, focus, and literally picture the deep themes of Jesus’ birth.

Click here for more information on Advent Photo-A-Day from Rethink Church.

Click here for a master list of links to my submissions. Lisa <><

Love One Another: Quality Time

Quality Time by Ashley Goldberg

This is the second of five messages inspired by the book The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. The congregation is invited to take out something to write with and the bulletin insert for taking notes. Click here for the Quality Time Insert. The prayer following the message is also located on the insert. Click here for another version of the prayer.

God is love. We are able to love God because God first loved us. We are able to love others because God first loved us.

Loving relationships are so important, Jesus commanded us to love one another. Let’s read it together.

John 13:34-35 NRSV
Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

If we’re going to love others as Jesus commands then we’re going to need to learn to communicate love in the way that’s easiest for the other person to hear it and receive it. Dr. Chapman researched this and identified 5 different ways in which persons best receive love. He calls them the 5 Love Languages
(1) Words of Affirmation
(2) Quality Time
(3) Receiving Gifts
(4) Acts of Service
(5) Physical Touch

Dr. Chapman’s research supports Jesus’ claim. Loving others is essential.
Married or single, young or old, every human has the emotional need to feel loved. When this need is met, we move out to reach our potential for God and our potential for good in the world. However, when we feel unloved, we struggle just to survive.
– Dr. Gary Chapman

Does a person need love to survive? I heard of a study years ago in Russia to test this theory. Infant orphans were fed, cleaned and changed but received no other human interaction. No cuddling. No soothing. The infants did not thrive. Like food and shelter, love was proved to be a basic human need.

Last week we discovered the first love language, words of affirmation. Love is often expressed in what we say and how we say it- words of encouragement, genuine compliments, and praising someone, especially in front of others. “I know you can do it. That color really brings out your eyes. Did you hear Johnny got an A on his science fair project?”

This week we’re exploring the love language of quality time.

When our girls were small there was a gap of time between when I picked up our oldest daughter Elyse from elementary school and youngest daughter Laura from daycare. So I’d stop at the local donut shop to buy us a snack. We’d munch and drink our milk and Elyse would chatter away about her day. It was much later that I realized how important that time was to Elyse. I thought we were just hanging out, biding our time, but to her I was speaking her love language. At that time in her life she needed quality time with mom in order to feel loved.

If you read through the Gospels, you’ll notice Jesus spends a great deal of time expressing love through quality time.

The Walk to Emmaus, Luke 24:13-33                                                   
It’s Easter Sunday. Jesus is dead along with the hopes and dreams of his followers. Now there are rumors his body’s been stolen. Two of the disciples decide they’ve had enough. They’re heading home. On the road a stranger comes up alongside them. He begins to ask them questions, drawing them out, listening to their heartbreak. Then he begins to share with them the scriptures about the Messiah, how he must suffer and die for the salvation of all. Time passes. It grows dark. The disciples are going to stop for the night and invite the stranger to spend more time with them over a meal. Towards the end of the meal, the stranger takes the bread a breaks it. Their eyes are opened. Their hearts soar. Jesus is alive.

Jesus could have shared the Good News in a much quicker fashion, but he knew spending quality time with these men was the best way for them to hear and receive his love.

The Restoration of Peter, John 21:1-19                 
Peter and a few of the disciples have gone back to fishing after Jesus’ death. Peter’s heartbroken, scared and dealing with all that grief over denying Jesus in his time of need. They fished all night and haven’t caught a thing. As the morning breaks, they notice a guy hanging out on the beach. He calls to them. “Throw your nets on the other side of the boat.” Suddenly there’s a huge catch of fish. They haul it in and he’s still hanging out on the beach. He’s even got breakfast ready for them. Over the course of the meal Peter’s faith and calling are restored by the risen Lord. “Feed my lambs… Tend my sheep…. Feed my sheep… Do you love me?” Jesus expresses love, forgiveness and hope. Love as I love Peter. Words of Affirmation. Quality time.

Woman at the Well, John 4:1-43                                                           
In the ancient world, men didn’t speak to women. Rabbis didn’t teach outcasts. Jews and Samaritans were enemies. Yet Jesus takes a radical step to spend quality time with a woman at a well and as a result her whole village comes to faith.

Mary and Martha, Luke 10:38-42                           
The home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus was a safe place for Jesus and his followers, a place for great food, rest and conversation. Mary appreciates the gift of quality time. She’s always found listening at Jesus’ feet. Martha, however is wired differently. Acts of Service may be her love language, but it’s gotten twisted. It’s not about expressing love anymore. She’s trying to be Martha Stewart. Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (vs. 41-42)

Worry and distraction have gotten the best of Martha and Jesus gently talks her back down. Worry and distraction are the enemies of quality time. They steal our joy and our ability to be present to another human being. A loved one is sharing an important feeling, but our mind is far away worrying about the project that’s due, the bills yet to be paid.

At its heart, quality time is loving someone enough to lay aside the worry and distraction in order to be fully present. The Biblical understanding of quality time is abiding. Drawing near and drawing the other person out.

God doesn’t just show up once in a while, God abides. Presence. Incarnation. God draws near in Jesus’ Christ and draws us out through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. God is in it for the long haul, through the good and the bad and the ugly. God desires a deep, intimate relationship with us, a relationship rooted in being present to one another, in quality time.

1 John 4:11-16 is printed on your insert. As I read it, underline the promises of presence and abiding for those who believe.

1 John 4:11-16 NRSV
Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

Quality time often results in quality conversation. Words of affirmation focus on what we are saying whereas quality conversation focuses on what we are hearing.

What does Quality Time look like:

  1. Listening intentionally – eye contact, undivided attention, focused attention

I saw a cartoon recently of a typical family- dad watching TV, mom’s reading, son playing video game, daughter texting, and the cat watching the fish tank. The caption read “at least we’re all in the same room.” We live in a world of distraction, but it’s also a world that’s increasingly isolated. Quality time is a critical and counter cultural expression of love.

  1. Asking questions to show interest
  2. Togetherness: spending time doing special things or everyday things

What can you do this week to offer your full attention, your ministry of presence, to someone you love? Eating at a dinner table, taking a walk together, family game night or craft time, doing the dishes together… the possibilities are endless. It’s such a small thing, but so important.

What can you do to offer the same to God, the One who loves you most?

In A Mile in My Shoes, Trevor Hudson says:
Let me describe what it means to be truly present. Being present involves letting go of our constant preoccupations, immersing ourselves in the here and now, and giving ourselves wholeheartedly to whatever is at hand. … It’s about becoming more aware, alert, awake to the fullness of the immediate moment. If we are with another person, it means engaging with him or her with all of our heart, our mind, our soul, and our strength. Such wholehearted attention requires patience, time, and disciplined effort. And it is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to those around us, especially our suffering neighbor.

Jesus practiced a ministry of presence and we are commanded to do the same. God’s love shines through and our love shines through when we sit with someone while they grieve, wait with them at the doctor’s office, take someone out for coffee who’s out of work or going through a family crisis.

What would happen to the emotional climate of a household, a workplace, a congregation, a neighborhood if we left behind the distractions and the isolation for being truly present to one another, to loving each other by spending quality time?

Someone once said time is money, recognizing its value in the marketplace.
Time is valuable, but not so much for this reason. Time is valuable because time is love.

Please consider patronizing today’s featured artist, Ashley Goldberg.

Know you are always welcome at our congregation, Community United Methodist Church in DeBary, FL. We worship on Sundays at 8am, 9:20am, and 11am. Dress casual and bring the kids.

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