Prayer: In Our Unbelief (Mark 9.14-29)

help my unbeliefBased on Mark 9:14-29, Jesus healing a boy with a destructive spirit. If you’re using this in a group setting, consider having one voice on the regular print and all voices on the bold print. 

Jesus, we ask with half a heart
One eye open
Fingers crossed

The situation is so impossible
So great
So desperate

Have mercy on us in our unbelief

The suffering is so deep
So dangerous
So complete
So far beyond control for so long

We’re so heartbroken
So tired
So disappointed
So hopeful, only to fall again
Nothing works
Nothing changes
We have tried and failed and tried and failed and tried…

Have mercy on us in our unbelief

We come with our if’s
If you can save
If you can heal
If you can do anything

Have mercy on us in our unbelief

Give us courage to trust and hope
To try again
To come and ask expecting something new

Give us courage to believe
Fully
Faith-fully
Again

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In Our Unbelief © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

You are welcome to use this prayer in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please leave a comment to contact me directly for publishing and posting consideration.

Like our sister Mary, a Christmas Affirmation

mother-of-god-icon-l

Like our sister Mary, we say yes

Yes to your favor
Your presence
Your blessing

Yes that we are enough just as we are
Where we are

Yes to your calling
and the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon us to fulfill it

Yes to bearing and birthing
Your Word and your Promises and your Kingdom
in this time and place

Yes to all things being possible with you

Like our sister Mary we say
Here I am, the Lord’s humble servant
As you have said, let it be done to me
in me
through me

Like our sister Mary we sing and celebrate you
Our God, Our Liberator
For though we are your humble servants
You have noticed us

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This affirmation is offered for all, but especially for those who lead God’s people during the holy-days of Christmas. It can be an weary and stressful time. It’s easy to miss the wonder and grace of God’s intimate presence with so much responsibility. The stakes feel sky high. Breathe, trust, receive brothers and sisters. The promises are for you as well.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <><

Like our Sister Mary © 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.

Based on Luke 1:26-48, The Voice translation

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 Sacrifice and Savior. 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.

Parable of the Talents: Fearless or Fearful? (Matthew 25.14-30)

Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25:14-30

John of the Cross wrote that “In the evening of life we will be judged on love alone.” The two servants, probably more experienced in loving, fearlessly invest their portions of love. Heedless of sheer foolhardiness, they risk ego, rejection, derision, even death, adventurously increasing the master’s wealth of love in the world. The last servant misses the point, and like sinning against the Holy Spirit (Mt. 12:32) the poor clueless man finds himself in the outer darkness for clinging to the supposed safety of burying his love in the ground. John Wesley comments, “So mere harmlessness, on which many build their hope of salvation, was the cause of his damnation.”
– Suzanne Guthrie, The Edge of the Enclosure

The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess him. He wants those who belong to him to be brave and fearless. He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the Spirit. This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular of the representative, administrating Spirit. A Christian is fearless. –Tertullian

Cowards die many times before their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but once.
– William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (II, ii, 32-37)

Only those who risk going too far will ever know how far they can go.
– T.S. Eliot

Whatever you do you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you into believing your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories but it takes brave men and women to win them. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Moving ahead requires us to face the present with its hardships and afflictions, knowing that these, too, are part of the way. To do this requires a measure of courage, that word formed from the Latin cor, or heart. In such circumstances, the challenge before us is not simply to avoid losing our heart. Rather, it is that of finding our heart, of living “heartfully.” – Mark S. Burrows and John H. Ohlson, Love is a Direction from Weavings, Aug/Sept/Oct 2012

Click here and here and here for three thoughtful reflections on this passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes

Zephaniah 1:12
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, “The Lord will not do good, nor will he do harm.”

Philippians 4:13 (NRSV)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Dear God,
I am so afraid to open my clenched fists!
Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to?
Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands?
Please help me to gradually open my hands
… and to discover that I am not what I own,
but what you want to give me.
And what you want to give me is love,
unconditional, everlasting love. Amen.
– Henri Nouwen

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Expectant, a prayer for greater faith

Holy One
You are at work, your saving work
Help me to trust this truth and to live expectantly

Expecting to see people come to faith
Growing in faith

Expecting to see people freed from poverty,
Delivered of disease
Making sacrifices for the greater good

Expecting to see prayers answered
Jobs found
Bills paid

Expecting to see wars end
Corruption abandoned
Justice and opportunity abounding

Expecting to see lives unshackled from addiction
Families made whole
Neighborhoods and Nations open
and welcoming
and hope-full

You make the crooked straight and the rough places a plain
You make a way when there seems to be no way

Give me eyes to see
A heart full of faith
Lips quick to testify in thanksgiving and praise

Glory, Glory Hallelujah to our God on high!
Glory, Glory Hallelujah to our God with us!
Amen!

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Expectant, a prayer for greater faith © 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.

Speaking Peace in the Face of the Storm

Quotefancy-806355-3840x2160As I write this, Hurricane Irma has turned toward us. I keep thinking of my friends in the Caribbean, my congregation, my neighbors, and my family who are so far away. There is much to warrant true concern. There is much that is unknown. In the midst of it all, God is near. God’s well of hope and safety and belonging is deep and it is for you. Love one another, make the best decisions you can, pray and trust God. You are not alone.
Your sister and servant in Christ- Lisa <><

Jesus, we see You calming storms
Storm tossed seas and stormy lives
Extend Your power and grace again,
Upon us and all in need

Speak peace and healing over bodies and spirits
overwhelmed by the crashing waves of circumstance
Jesus, speak peace. (Moment of silence)

Speak peace and perspective over minds and hearts
adrift in confusion or drowning in fear
Jesus, speak peace. (Moment of silence)

Speak peace and hope over people, families, and communities swamped by danger and loss
Jesus, speak peace. (Moment of silence)

Speak peace and truth over the media that they may use their influence to build good will rather than stir up anxiety
Jesus, speak peace. (Moment of silence)

Speak peace and protection over first responders – firefighters, law enforcement, medical personnel, power workers, and shelter workers- as they risk their lives to help those who are suffering.
Jesus, speak peace. (Moment of silence)

Speak peace and belonging over those who are displaced by evacuation – those in shelters, those stranded on highways, those in hotels, those far from loved ones.
Jesus, speak peace. (Moment of silence)

Speak peace and well-being over those who are hunkering down- the well prepared, the foolish, and the vulnerable, especially those who are poor or alone.
Jesus, speak peace. (Moment of silence)

You are the Prince of Peace.
You are the Resurrection and the Life.
You are strong to save.
Our hope and trust are in You

Offer your own prayers. Conclude with the Lord’s Prayer.

If you are using this prayer in a group setting, one person reads the light print and everyone reads the bold print. 

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Speaking Peace in the Face of the Storm © 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 of the Unemployed, based on Matthew 20.1-16

unemployedBased on Matthew 20:1-16, the parable of the vineyard owner hiring workers

My hope rises with the sun
I want to be hired, to be useful
I need the work

The day is passing
I need to be hired
I need to work
I have responsibilities and debts
I need to work to care for myself and my loved ones

The day is nearly gone
I have skills to offer, yet no one sees them
Why am I not valued?
Why am I not wanted?
The idleness eats my soul

The day is nearly done, as is my hope
Yet, you see me
You want me
You come for me

I give you what I have
The sweat of my brow
The labor of my limbs
The dreams of my heart
The weight of my needs
The hole of my soul

Help me to trust you in this lean time
Help me to trust worthy work is coming soon
With a boss as generous and fair as you
Help me trust there is work to be done
all are wanted
all are needed
all are chosen

Help me hold on to hope
Stay here soul
Stay here

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Prayer of the Unemployed © 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.