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.
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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.
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Help me Walk Your Path Instead of Mine (Genesis 17)

life-choices path journeyBased on Genesis 17:1, 9-10, 15-22

Lord God, bless my plan
my Ishmael
the fruit of my answer to a desperate need
the child of my own strengths and the pressure of others

“I am God Almighty, walk before me and be blameless.”

What have I done?
Forgive me
Help me
I am foolish and shortsighted

Your ways are higher and harder than mine
Your ways take patience and steadfast trust
Your ways are beyond my strength,
there is no doubt the answer is yours

Forgive me
Deliver me from me
Help me walk your path instead of mine

Make me a covenant keeper
Make me an instrument of your saving love
that generations would come to your blessing
that generations would come to be a part of your forever family

Increase my faith
Increase my trust
so my choices always point to your power and grace
Amen

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Help me walk your path instead of mine © 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.

A prayer for moving (Genesis 12)

Snoopy-movingJune and July are often months of moving, especially for United Methodist pastors who are appointed to new congregations. This prayer is for them and all who find themselves heading to new places. It’s based on Genesis 12:1-9.

The Lord God calls Abram (and Sarai)
Pack your things
Move your family
Travel far, to a place unfamiliar

He/She/They obey
Yes they are established
Yes it is difficult

He/She/They trust
and they keep praising the Lord God
as they move farther and farther into the unfamiliar

Help me to trust you as well
You do not call and abandoned
You are ahead of us on the journey
You are the journey- the way, the truth, the life
You guide and guard
You encourage and reassure and show signs
You and your way brings blessing for me, for my family, for the world

Deepen my trust
that I may be faithful in all things
and a blessing for the generations
Amen

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A Prayer for Moving © 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- Trust in Him

afraid-trust-psalm-56-3

Trust in Him and do not fear
The peace of Christ will guard your heart. Alleluia!

Trust in Him and do not worry
The promises of Christ will prove true. Alleluia!

Trust in Him and do not wander
The resurrection of Christ will open the way. Alleluia!

Trust in Him and do not give up
The power of Christ will raise a glorious harvest. Alleluia!

Trust in Him and do not despair
The grace of Christ will heal you and keep you, now and forever. Alleluia!

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This prayer would also work well as an affirmation of faith or call to worship.

Prayer – Trust in Him © 2017 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.