We pray. We study the Bible. We make friends. We tell our stories. We give ourselves away in generosity and service.

 

WE PRAY: A PERSONAL PRAYER

Gracious God,

You know, God, that I have always been one of those pushing for movement, for things to change. I have been one who was ready to lean forward. I used to walk around singing “The times, they are a changin…”.   But as I am older, I am less ready for change. I yearn for peace. Tranquility. Now, I find myself humming “Peace like a river.” I find myself more interested in quiet than I am in transformation. I guess I am now “the man,” the establishment, the one who represents the status quo. I don’t want to be that guy, God. Jesus sure wasn’t that guy. He turned over the tables in the temple, and upset the establishment so much that they killed him.

And I find myself less interested in changing myself, God, much less the world around me. Am I really an old dog, that can’t learn new tricks? Surely not, God. Surely I’m still growing. Surely I am still learning. Surely your Holy Spirit is still at work within me with your sanctifying grace, helping me, as John Wesley put it, to “go on to perfection.”

Gracious God, forgive me for my stiffneckedness, and for my complacency, and open me to your Spirit, that you might change me, and through me, in some small way, transform the world.

In the name of Jesus,

Amen.

 

WE STUDY THE BIBLE: KEY VERSE FOR THE WEEK
For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials – Acts 15:28  Read the whole text for this week’s sermon here: Acts 15

 

QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION
For whom are you most afraid? Why? When you pray for them, what do you pray? How have you or can you bless them?

 

SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
Where have you seen people confuse that which is essential with that which is non-essential?  How have you changed in the past year or decade?

 

This week in Worship, we conclude our series on Courage, as we focus on “The Courage To Become; Facing Our Fear of Change.” In its earliest days, Christianity was a sect of Judaism, and the first Christian disciples followed all of the Jewish laws. But those early leaders of the church felt the Holy Spirit move them to reach out to non-jews, and the church had to make a decision whether the new converts should follow the laws of Moses. That decision was just the first of many decisions about change that the church endured over the centuries that followed. Change is never easy, and we will talk about how we open ourselves to Holy Spirit driven change in our lives and in our world. Are you a person who is open to change, to being led by the Holy Spirit to become who God intends you to become? Come worship this Sunday.

 

Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Join us for worship services at 7:30 a.m. in the Chapel, 12:00 noon and 6:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary. The ashes are made from burning last year’s palm branches, and symbolize both our repentance and our penitence for sin (grieving for our sin by sitting in sackcloth and ashes was a common custom), and our own mortality (ashes to ashes, dust to dust).

 

Text the word LENT to 313131 to receive brief daily devotionals and suggested experiences for each day during Lent.

 

It isn’t too late to sign up for a small group to go along with our series for Lent, “Start Here: Six Questions for Skeptics, Seekers, and Thoughtful Believers.” It will look at the basic questions of the Christian faith, built around the framework of the Apostles’ Creed. Eric Huffman and I have written the curriculum as a sort of conversation about these questions: Go here to register: http://www.stlukesmethodist.org/lift

 

PRAYER CALENDAR

Sunday |  February 7

Faithful God, you never promised that our lives would be easy, but you did promise that you would always be with us. As we go through changes, help us to seek you always because your love for us is steadfast. Amen.

Monday | February 8

Dear God, every day we experience change—some good and some not so good. Help us to remember that you are always working for our good even behind the scenes. Help us to be faithful and positive, to be a light to those in the world around us during good times and hard times. Amen.

Tuesday | February 9

O God, you led the Israelites through the desert into the Promised Land. They didn’t know the way, but they knew your presence was with them to guide them on their journey. In the same way, guide us in our pilgrimage through Lent, make us mindful of your presence and increase our longing for you. Amen.

Wednesday | February 10

Ash Wednesday

Merciful God, the ashes placed on us are evident, but in truth, they make us a bit uncomfortable. Grant us courage to confront the sinfulness in our lives and strength to bear the cross of our crucified redeemer. Only then can we return to you with all our hearts. Amen.

Action: Read Psalm 51:1-17. Read again and pray through this passage.

Thursday | February 11 

Lord, we cannot make this pilgrimage without your help; the mountains are too steep and the path forward is unclear. Take us by the hand, you who created us. You, who made all things in heaven and earth and reveal yourself to us as together we journey. Amen.

Action: Ask God to help you find a way to help someone who is having a hard time on the journey.

Friday | February 12

Quiet the voices in our heads and calm the craziness around us, O God. Help us to find a quiet place to sit alone with you; to rest in your presence and yield to your immeasurable peace and strength. Amen.

Action: Allow yourself 10 minutes today to sit and be still before the Lord.

Saturday | February 13

Jesus, thank you for the gift of your peace, a peace that prevails even in the face of danger or fear. Let us recognize this peace and dwell in it. Amen.

Action: Listen to a calming song and sing to it.