We pray. We study the Bible. We make friends. We tell our stories. We give ourselves away in generosity and service.
A PERSONAL PRAYER
Yes, it is Christmas or almost Christmas. I am going to see lots of people tomorrow. I will place into their hands the wafer and offer them the fruit of the grape. I will look them in the eyes and remind them that these “gifts” are the very presence of your son Jesus Christ, given out of your great love for them. I will tell them that you showed up for them. I want to help them understand that they can look up, and you are right there present for them. O God, use me to make yourself real for those who come to worship on that marvelous Christmas eve.
You also tell me that these people will be Christ for me tomorrow, that in their faces I can see your face. Your Scripture tells me that when I share with them love in some tangible way, they are transformed into Jesus Christ… “As you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me…” Yes, it isn’t simply that I can be Christ for them – they will be Christ for me! I need that, God. I need your son to be real for me.
O Jesus, I long to feel your presence, to experience your heartbeat in my own heartbeat, to have you sit with us at our family table, to feel you work beside me and nudge me along as I seek to shepherd your people. I know I push you away God. Forgive me. Melt down the walls around me, and become incarnate in my life right now.
Thank you, Jesus.
KEY VERSE FOR THE WEEK
“Behold! The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means, “God with us”). – Matthew 1:23
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION
What keeps you from just “being with” people? How might you simply re-present “God with us” to someone this Christmas?
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
Put on your calendar our Christmas Eve services, all of which you can find here. Also, note that on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, St. Luke’s will have no Encounter service and only one traditional service at 11:00 am in the Sanctuary. The Story Houston will have only one service at 11:05. There is no Sunday School on these days.
On Christmas Eve at our 6:00, 8:00, and 11:00 worship, we conclude our series on “Regifting Christmas,” with the sermon “Regifting Presents Presence.”
The financial generosity the St. Luke’s family plays is essential, and your generosity does two things. First, it helps make ministry actually happen. God is doing amazing things at St. Luke’s because you give. Second, it makes a difference in the life of the giver. We become more closely connected to God’s work as we give and grow in our faith as we trust God more. Thank you for your generous spirit and for playing a significant role in the ministries of St. Luke’s. Please consider making a generous gift to our Christmas Offering benefiting the initiative, Zero to Five Learning, or a year end gift to St. Luke’s by December 31. We are always counting on our wonderfully generous congregation to give at year end to meet our obligations, and this year is no different.
Beginning January 8, we begin a new series called “Unstuck.” Do you ever feel stuck? Stuck in your job? Stuck in your relationships? Stuck in your attitudes or addictions? This five week series looks at what the Bible says about getting “Unstuck” and moving in a direction aligned with God’s purposes for us. Come join us. Invite a friend who very well might be “stuck!”
Sunday, December 25
O God, words cannot express the joy and gratitude for you coming to be with me, to be with us. I pray that this ordinary day may be sacred, and that my own life will be forever changed. In the name of Christ, I pray. Amen. – Prayer by Dr. Tom Pace
Monday, December 26
Father, I woke up physically exhausted from all the Christmas Eve and Day to-dos that the world sets up. But, my soul is spiritually alive because you are here. I commit to play my part in the world to spread the news that you have come to save us. Amen.
Tuesday, December 27
Heavenly Father, thank you for providing me hope. Today I desire to live and walk and share your hope with others. Amen.
Wednesday, December 28
Lord, I need you today. I need to feel your unconditional love, because human relationships are hard. I need your grace, because I seem to fail you and others more often than not. Thank you for letting me rest within your loving, merciful embrace today. I love you. Amen.
Thursday, December 29
Dear God, I pray to see you in the details of my day: in the beauty of the sunrise and blowing of the breeze through the trees. Your love is evident in the handshakes with friends and hugs with my family. You are in the laughter of those around me and in the music that fills my soul. You are my God, and you are here. Amen.
Friday, December 30
Almighty God, you are the foundation upon which I choose to stand. Today I pray my feet stay firmly planted on your solid word. Keep my eyes from wandering to the shiny, fleeting ways of the world and my hands from reaching to grasp what others are pointing to. You are all that I need. Amen.
Saturday, December 31
Sweet Father, thank you for this amazing past year and all the good and bad that came with it. All of it has led me right here in this moment with you. I know you were with me through it all, and I confess I was not always with you. Please forgive me and know with you is where I desire to be. Amen.
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