A PERSONAL PRAYER
God of both Fridays and Sundays,
“See from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet…?” – Isaac Watts, early Methodist hymnodist.
I stand amazed by your love, for me, God. When I stand in the court of the pavements of my imagination, watching the whip, the thorns, the humiliation…, my heart breaks. When I trail behind your son to the cross, watch him fall and struggle to rise, I bow my head in shame and sadness. But then I consider you, God… seeing what we do to your son. You teach us in scripture that you are not just an amorphous life force sort of God. No, you are a God who feels. Oh, the pain you must feel as you see his anguish. How can you possibly still love us? You sent him to teach us how to live and how to love, how to be a community of people who reflect your glory. Instead of learning from him and following him, we took out all of our anger and pain and rage on the one who came to save. And then, incredibly, you used even our most heinous act, the cross itself, as the instrument of our salvation. I tremble in awe at the indestructibility of your love.
Over the next three days, God, I pray that somehow, that love would seep into my very soul. Let me see my own complicity in the cross, but then wipe away my guilt with your words of forgiveness. Let me understand the power of my sin to bring death, and then the power of your love to bring life. Let me know and understand that you know my secrets, see my sin, and yet you love me completely and without reservation. There are no “except for…” parts of your love. Overwhelm me with that love. Fill every cell of my body, mind, and soul with it. And then, as your love takes me over, open me up that the same love would spread from me to others around me. Let your love shine and glisten from my pores, just as love flowed from yours in that garden long ago. Show me again that the way of Jesus leads to a cross of love, but it leads finally to life… real, abundant, joyous, love-filled life.
In the name of the crucified one, I pray, Amen.
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
I hope you will join me in praying for every person, every family that comes through our doors this holy weekend. Many will be here who do not worship regularly, and it is my prayer that God’s marvelous life-giving grace will flood into their hearts and lives in a new and fresh way. Take a look at the services below…
Service of the Tenebrae tonight at 7:00 p.m.
The Service of Tenebrae (literally Latin for darkness) is a remembrance of the betrayal, arrest, torture, and crucifixion of Jesus. We will hear again the seven sayings of Jesus on the cross, and after each one is read, we extinguish one candle, until we conclude in darkness. It is among the most powerful services of the year. This year we also have a Children’s Good Friday Worship Service on the 2nd floor of the Johnson Building. Children will experience a developmentally appropriate service tailored just for them: K-5th graders will anticipate the coming of Christ’s resurrection through prayer, activities, and song. Childcare will be available for children ages 2 months – preK.
Anticipation of Easter on Saturday, 11 a.m. in the Chapel
Organist Rob Landes and soloist Jennifer Johnson present this annual Holy Weekend musical offering.
Easter Sunday is going to be a marvelous day! I would love to see you and family and friends in either our traditional worship services in the Sanctuary at 8:00 (easiest to get a seat), 9:00, 10:05, or 11:10 a.m., or our Encounter worship in the Activity Center at 9:15 a.m. For services with The Story Houston or our Gethsemane campus, look here. Our Easter Offering this year is Plant With Purpose, an organization that is doing some really cool things to fight poverty and empower people to provide for themselves around the world. Our goal is to create five sustainable development groups. We’ve raised funds for three and have two more to go. To find out more look here.
On Sunday, April 15, we begin a new four week sermon series entitled “My Child, You Are…” The old saying that “it takes a village to raise a child” is true, but what are we as a village trying to teach them? What is it that we want children to understand about themselves down at their core? What is it that every child of God, no matter what age, needs to understand about him or herself? The Bible has a very clear picture of who we are; I invite you to come and join us as we consider it together.
Sunday, April 1 – Easter Sunday
Into the darkness, God, you impose light. First, the deep blue foretaste of morning appears at the base of the gloom, barely perceptible. Soon, a rosy expanse of beauty stretches across the sky, until finally a single beam of your sun breaks the horizon and pours its warmth into the world, its brightness into our hearts. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” No gravestone can hold back the dawn. No fear can restrain the victory of your love. No evil can finally defeat your eternal and everlasting life. You transform even a cross into a pathway to new life. Do it again, God. Bring an Easter resurrection into each of us today. In the name of the Risen Christ, I pray, Amen.
-Prayer by Dr. Tom Pace
Monday, April 2
Wonderful God, you are the God of the day after Easter, too. The stone is still rolled back, the women are still preaching, Peter still can’t believe his eyes. Thank you for not being dead. Thank you for being alive, a living presence on the move in our lives! Help us protect the joy of Easter, so we might call upon it when life gets dark. Amen. -Prayer by Rev. David Horton
Tuesday, April 3
My Lord and my God, You have done the impossible. Once again, I feel like I am one of the men on the walk to Emmaus. Help me recognize the risen Christ in my life. Empower me to spread the good news for I am one of the Easter people. Amen. -Prayer by Rev. Bill Denham
Wednesday, April 4
Risen Lord, Continue to reveal yourself and assure us of our faith that you live and care for us. May our faith be made so alive in this truth, that we might face our challenges and fears with courage; trusting that we are not alone or without hope. We thank you for your promise of everlasting love and of the living hope we have in you. Amen. -Prayer by Dr. Linda Christians
Thursday, April 5
God, help us to embrace the excitement of your resurrection this week. May we live as those who have seen the resurrected Lord and have been transformed by it. Help us to live into the redemption that you have provided us in the empty tomb. Because you live we may also live in you, praise be to you our resurrected Lord! Amen. -Prayer by Rev. Thomas Harper
Friday, April 6
Lord, in rising from the tomb, you showed us the way out of our own grave doubts and fears. Give me the courage to rise up, and the strength to overcome. By the power of your Spirit, resurrect me today, so that I may walk in the way that leads to eternal life. Amen. -Prayer by Rev. Eric Huffman
Saturday, April 7
Lord, I pray to truly experience the redeeming power of the risen Lord in my life. God help make this faith real for me that I may experience true joy that can only come from you. Amen.
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