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

Holy God,
Today, I pray for your church.
My prayers are of overflowing gratitude and thanksgiving. I love your church. She has been a nurturing mother to me since I was fourteen years old, and she nurtured my own mother and father before me, and my grandparents and great grandparents before them. She has been the love of friends, who have spoken the words of life to me. She has been church dinners and worship services and Bible studies and covered dishes delivered to our home. She has been the smiles of brothers and sisters in Christ, whose names I know well and those whose names I have never learned. She has been family and community to me. But the church has also been mission, God, the mission you gave us, partnership in the gospel, working side by side to shine a little light and push back the darkness, to offer the light of Christ to those who walk in that darkness. She has been generous people, who have poured out their time and money, sweat and tears, to accomplish your purposes. What a joy it has been to be a part of her community and her purpose.
But my prayer today is also for guidance and correction, O God. You know our faults, God. Before he died, your son prayed that we, your church, might be one, be unified. And you see our disunity all around. You see that too often, we are as divided as the rest of the culture of which we are a part. You see that too often, we have exchanged our mission for complacent attitudes and apathetic spirits. You have asked us to storm the gates of hell, and we have settled for motivational speaking and sentimental hymns. No, these things are not bad, but they are so far short of your calling for us, and our worship must move beyond lips alone to heart and hand and soul and strength. Forgive us, God, and by your Holy Spirit correct our ways and restore us. Use us for your purposes.
And God, thank you for your church. I love her so very much.
Amen.

KEY VERSES FOR THE WEEK
43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common – Acts 2:43-44. Read the whole passage of Scripture for Sunday’s sermon here: Acts 2:42-47

QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION
Why are you a part of the church? Are you more drawn to the church because of our sense of community or our sense of purpose?

SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
In his book unChristian, David Kinnaman of the Barna Institute writes about the attitude of many folks, particularly young people, about the church. He writes “When outsiders claim that we are unChristian, it is a reflection of this jumbled (and predominately negative) set of perceptions. When they see Christians not acting like Jesus, they quickly conclude that the group deserves an unchristian label. Like a corrupted computer file or a bad photocopy, Christianity, they say, is no longer in pure form, and so they reject it.” This Sunday, we will talk about the “holy catholic church, the communion of saints.” We will consider the nature of the church – the body of Christ, and the mission of the church – to make disciples for the transformation of the world.

OK, it is Lent, but hang on, Easter is Coming!  At our Westheimer Campus, Traditional Easter services will be at 8, 9, 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. in the Sanctuary. Encounter Worship will be at 9:15 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall. The Story Houston will have a sunrise service at 7 a.m. on Blanton Field and additional services at 9:30 and 11:05 a.m. in the Activity Center. Gethsemane Campus services are at 9:00 and 11:15 a.m. Please note that we will have shuttle parking running all morning from the Central Market parking lot on the corner of Westheimer and Weslayan. Briar Club parking is not available on Easter. Children under five can’t ride the shuttle because of car seat laws, but drop ‘em off at the church and come back and park. It will make your life so much easier and less hectic, and it is going to be fun! Consider giving up your spot in generosity and service…
You can check out all the information about Holy Week and Easter services here:http://www.stlukesmethodist.org/easter

PRAYER CALENDAR

Fourth Sunday in lent
March 6

Gracious God, we pray for your blessings upon your Church. Fill it with all truth and peace. Amen. Action: The hymnist wrote, “Name your blessings, name them one by one.” Make a running list of your blessings and give thanks to God for them.

Monday | March 7
Jesus, you served with a humble heart and showed your disciples how to serve by putting others’ needs before their own. Show us again today. Amen.
Action: Think of a way to serve someone today and ask God to help you do it.

Tuesday | March 8
God, you call us to be united in love and one mission to the world, so that all will come to know and follow Jesus, the Savior of the world. Amen. Action: Send a thoughtful note to someone who is grieving a loss of someone or something significant in their lives.

Wednesday | March 9
Jesus, you knew how it felt to suffer, feel exhausted, experience disappointment, loss and so much more. And you knew to turn to God, your Heavenly Father for comfort, strength and solace. Help us to know this too. Amen.
Action: Sit quietly for 10 minutes in the morning or late afternoon and rest; picture yourself in the arms of your loving Heavenly Father.

Thursday | March 10
God, we probably don’t always mean it when we pray, “Thy will be done” because we haven’t relinquished our controlling ways to you. Forgive us, and let your will always be done in our lives. Amen.
Action: Name something with which you struggle to relinquish control; offer it to God and pray, “Thy will be done.”

Friday | March 11
Compassionate God, in Scripture we are told that true religion is caring for the widows and orphans in their distress and to keep ourselves unstained by the world. May our religion be ever true before you. Amen.
Action: Memorize James 1:27 and pray for God to redefine “religion” in your mind and heart.

Saturday | March 12
Search me O God, and know my heart. Teach me your ways so that I may walk in your path that leads to life everlasting. Amen.
Action: Find articles of clothing that you no longer wear and donate them to a favorite charity.