Prayer Poem: The Fullness of You (Luke 1:57-80)

heart lights2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Days 6 and 7 are set aside for worship and rest
Day 8 Reading: Luke 1:57-80
Zechariah’s Prayer

Even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit.
– Luke 1:15, Gabriel describing John the Baptist

The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you”
– Luke 1:35

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb.
And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
– Luke 1:41

Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy
– Luke 1:67

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:14-19

Prayer Poem: The Fullness of You
I desire the fullness of You
The height and the depth
The length and the breadth
Oh God I desire the fullness
Of Your love, Your love in Christ Jesus

Root me in Your love
Establish those roots to the core of Your heart
Root me in Your love
Grow them deep, grow them true
Tapping into the fullness of You

I desire the fullness of You
The height and the depth
The length and the breadth
Oh God I desire the fullness
Of Your love, Your love in Christ Jesus

Grant me Your power
Together with all who choose to believe
Grant us Your power
Light our minds, Shine right through
Till we grasp the vast fullness of You

I want to know Your love
A love that surpasses all knowledge
The full measure of Your love
You are Love, my Love, our Love, our first Love

We desire the fullness of You
The height and the depth
The length and the breadth
Oh God we desire the fullness
Of Your love, Your love in Christ Jesus

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

Prayer: The Fullness of You © 2010 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.
Lisa is especially interested in collaborating with someone to set this text to music.

For more information on the art and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.

Prayer: Now and Not Yet (Luke 1:5-25)

Barefoot-Walking on path2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 1 Reading: Luke 1:5-25
Zechariah and Gabriel

Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so?
– Luke 1:18

Prayer: Now and Not Yet
God of Now and Not Yet,
We race ahead of you,
Wanting answers now
Results now
Actions now
We see you lagging behind,
slow in coming.
Hosanna! Save Now!

God of Now and Not Yet,
We struggle to keep up,
You appear, but we are slow to believe
Slow to understand
Slow to change
Slow to act
Slow to…
You race head, pioneering into unfamiliar places,
Be still so we can keep you caged

God of Now and Not Yet,
Your Kingdom draws near and stretches into forever
Steady our steps
Till the rhythm of our faith
Keeps pace with your faithfulness
Amen

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

Prayer: Now and Not Yet © 2010 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.

Advent Door 11: The Covenant Continues


The Advent Door Reading Plan
Day 11 Reading: Luke 1:68-79

For a worship resource based on this scripture passage, click here

Scripture Summary:
Zechariah’s song of blessing to God and to his infant son, John.

Zechariah sings. Full of wild hope, he sings. Knowing the state of the world, he sings. – Jan Richardson, Through the Advent Door

Have you ever noticed the parallels between the stories of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis and Zechariah and Elizabeth in Luke? Today was the first time I did. Wow! All I can do is marvel at God’s constancy over thousands of years. I am so very thankful God remains steadfast and faithful in the midst of this ever changing life.

Like their ancestors Abraham and Sarah, Zechariah and Elizabeth are blessed with a son in their old age. Both sons would serve a key role in the fulfilling of the covenant. The connection is not lost on Zechariah, who praises God for remaining faithful to the covenant with Abraham.

Both couples receive news of their child from heavenly visitors. One spouse believes the announcement (Abraham and Elizabeth) while the other does not. (Sarah and Zechariah) The unbelieving spouse is quick to reveal their disbelief with their responses. Sarah laughs in disbelief when the heavenly visitors reveal she will have a son. (Genesis 18) Zechariah is ministering in the holy of holies of the Temple when the angel Gabriel reveals Elizabeth will bear a son. Zechariah’s questioning of Gabriel reveals his disbelief. (Luke 1)

Zechariah’s disbelief results in a ten month verbal time out. His imposed silence reminds us of the previous 400 hundred years of silence experienced by God’s people when there were no prophets in Israel. The return of Zechariah’s voice foreshadows the return of a prophet, his son John the Baptist. John’s prophetic preaching ministry in the wilderness would prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ – the Word of God made flesh, the Promised Messiah, the Fulfillment of Covenant.

God tests Abraham by asking him to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. As Abraham’s knife plunges towards the boy, an angel stops him and shows him that God has provided a ram (male sheep) for the sacrifice. Later, John the Baptizer would identify Jesus as the Lamb of God, the One God provides to be the ultimate sacrifice for all sin for all time.

1 Peter 1:18-19 (NRSV)
You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.

The heavenly visitors tell both families what to name their sons. Abraham and Sarah’s son will be named Isaac, meaning laughter; a constant reminder of Sarah’s reaction to the birth announcement and God’s joy at doing the impossible. Zechariah and Elizabeth will name their son John, meaning God is gracious.

God establishes circumcision as a sign of the covenant with Abraham and his descendants. (Genesis 17) Zechariah’s silence is broken at the circumcision and naming of his son, John, when he agrees to name the child as God had directed. John would make the way for Jesus to establish baptism as the new sign of the covenant, where we are named and claimed by God.

Galatians 3:26-29 (NRSV)
In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

In the Old Testament, God reveals the covenant promises. In the New Testament, God fulfills those promises in the coming of Jesus the Messiah. God didn’t stop there. Even today, God continues to remember, rescue, and redeem. As God’s people for today, we have the chance to continue the long line of those who join God in extending that blessing and salvation to the nations. Will we?

Come, let us use the grace divine, and all with one accord,
in a perpetual covenant join ourselves to Christ the Lord;
Give up ourselves, thru Jesus’ power, his name to glorify;
and promise, in this sacred hour, for God to live and die.

The covenant we this moment make be ever kept in mind;
we will no more our God forsake, or cast these words behind.
We never will throw off the fear of God who hears our vow;
and if thou art well pleased to hear, come down and meet us now.

Thee, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, let all our hearts receive,
present with thy celestial host the peaceful answer give;
to each covenant the blood apply which takes our sins away,
and register our names on high and keep us to that day!
– Charles Wesley

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This year’s Advent reflections are inspired by the e-book Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas [Kindle Edition] by author and artist Jan Richardson. In the style of a classic Advent calendar, Jan offers twenty five reflections, each with an original piece of art. Consider this your invitation to join me and Jan on this journey to Christmas. – Lisa <><

For more information on the Christian season of Advent, click here

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

Christmas 4: Zechariah’s Prayer

The Story of Christmas
Day 4 Reading:
Luke 1:57-80

For a reflection on this scripture, click here

Perhaps this is the gift of silence, it shuts off our brains enough for us to receive a new story and, like Zechariah, to worship fully.
– Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pregnant old ladies and other signs that God’s story is better than the one we tell ourselves

Click Here for a reflection entitled In Darkness, Light by Steve Garnaas Holmes

Canticle:
Seeking God’s Liberation and Deliverance
This worship resource is based on Luke 1:57-80, the great prayer of faith and hope that bursts forth from Zechariah when he is freed from silence at the naming of his son. It combines the hymn Blessed Be the God of Israel by Carl P. Daw, Jr. with original prayers by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia. Suggested tunes for the hymn are KINGSFOLD or FOREST GREEN. This prayer is especially powerful when sung with only the accompaniment of a hand drum such as a djembe.

ONE OR ALL SINGING:
Blest be the God of Israel who comes to set us free
and raises up new hope for us: a Branch from David’s tree.
So have the prophets long declared that with a mighty arm
God would turn back our enemies and all who wish us harm.

ONE VOICE:
Save us and all people from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Guide our feet into the way of peace.

ALL SPEAKING:
Liberate us and all people from political oppression and corruption,
so all may worship you and serve you without fear.

ONE OR ALL SINGING:
With promised mercy will God still the covenant recall:
The oath once sworn to Abraham, from foes to save us all;
That we might worship without fear and offer lives of praise,
In holiness and righteousness before God all our days.

ONE VOICE:
Rescue us and all people from ignorance and false teaching,
that we may be transformed by the knowledge of salvation.

ALL SPEAKING:
You show great mercy and forgiveness to every person.
Release us from slavery to sin and death.

ONE OR ALL SINGING:
My child, as prophet of the Lord, you will prepare the way,
to tell God’s people they are saved from sin’s eternal sway.
Then shall God’s mercy from on high shine forth and never cease
to drive away the gloom of death and lead us into peace.

ONE VOICE:
Free us and all people from addiction and destructive dependence,
that we would embrace light rather than darkness.

ALL SPEAKING:
Deliver us and all people from despair and discouragement.
Help us walk through the shadows rather than making our home there.

ALL SINGING:
Blest be the God of Israel who comes to set us free
and raises up new hope for us: a Branch from David’s tree.
So have the prophets long declared that with a mighty arm
God would turn back our enemies and all who wish us harm.

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For information on The Story of Christmas Reading Plan, click here

Blessed Be the God of Israel text © 1989 Hope Publishing Co.

Prayers and compilation © 2010 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.

Christmas 1: Zechariah and Gabriel

The Angel Appearing to Zacharias by William Blake

The Story of Christmas
Day 1 Reading:
Luke 1:5-25

Prayer: Now and Not Yet
God of Now and Not Yet,
We race ahead of you,
Wanting answers now
Results now
Actions now
We see you lagging behind,
slow in coming.
Hosanna! Save Now!

God of Now and Not Yet,
We struggle to keep up,
You appear, but we are slow to believe
Slow to understand
Slow to change
Slow to act
Slow to…
You race head, pioneering into unfamiliar places,
Be still so we can keep you caged.

God of Now and Not Yet,
Your Kingdom draws near and stretches into forever
Steady our steps
Till the rhythm of our faith
Keeps pace with your faithfulness.
Amen.

***********
For information on The Story of Christmas Reading Plan, click here

Prayer: Now and Not Yet © 2010 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.

Hymn Text: The Fullness of You

This Advent, I’ve been struck by all the places in the story of Jesus’ birth where folks are “filled”.

  • Zechariah, Elizabeth and their unborn baby John are all filled with the Holy Spirit.
  • After receiving instruction in a dream, Joseph is filled with assurance to go ahead and take Mary as his wife.
  • Mary receives a unique filling. She becomes the Theotokos, the “God-bearer”, full of Word and Grace and Love and Truth made flesh in her womb.
  • The angels are filled with song and the shepherds are filled with joy at the news the Messiah is born.
  • Herod is filled with fear.
  • The wise ones are filled with curiosity over the magnificent star, then a sense of purpose to find the newborn King, then awe as they meet him, then wisdom to go home another way.
  • Anna and Simeon are filled with peace, knowing the promises of God are fulfilled in the child they have the chance to bless.

Filled by the Holy Spirit, a quilt by Lisa Ellis

This filling carries over into those first followers of Jesus. Read through the Acts of the Apostles. They are filled and filled and filled with the Holy Spirit again and again. Through that filling, they are able to preach Jesus boldly and do powerful works of healing.

To see visible objects we need the eyes of the body.
To understand intelligible truths we need the eyes of the mind.
To have the vision of divine things we cannot do without faith.
What the eye is for the body, faith is for reason.
To be more precise; the eye needs the light which puts it in contact with visible things;
reason needs faith to show it divine things. -Theodoret

The same can happen to us. Are we praying for full-fill-ment? Are we seeking the fullness of God with all our hearts? Paul is one of many who prays for it for. Let’s follow his example. You will find his beautiful petition in Ephesians 3:14-19. The new lyric you find below is based on this text, especially the last three verses.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

The Fullness of You
based on Ephesians 3:17-19

I desire the fullness of You
The height and the depth
The length and the breadth
Oh God I desire the fullness
Of Your love, Your love in Christ Jesus

Root me in Your love
Establish those roots to the core of Your heart
Root me in Your love
Grow them deep, grow them true
Tapping into the fullness of You

I desire the fullness of You
The height and the depth
The length and the breadth
Oh God I desire the fullness
Of Your love, Your love in Christ Jesus

Grant me Your power
Together with all who choose to believe
Grant us Your power
Light our minds, Shine right through
Till we grasp the vast fullness of You

I want to know Your love
A love that surpasses all knowledge
The full measure of Your love
You are Love, my Love, our Love, our first Love

We desire the fullness of You
The height and the depth
The length and the breadth
Oh God we desire the fullness
Of Your love, Your love in Christ Jesus

© 2010 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.
Lisa is especially interested in collaborating with someone to set this text to music.