We pray. We study the Bible. We make friends. We tell our stories. We give ourselves away in generosity and service.
A PERSONAL PRAYER
Thanksgiving behind us. Christmas still ahead of us. We are now officially in “the holidays.” It is going to be a wonderful time. Our home will be decorated. Our family will gather. Our church will hear and sing beautiful music. Children will dress up in bathrobes and magically become shepherds (or shepherdesses, of course.)
But today, as we head into the season, I pray for those for whom the holidays are not so easy. My father–in–law shared with me that as he worked at Christian Community Service Center this week, a woman gave as proof of her address a pawn ticket, in which she put her wedding ring up for collateral for a $15 loan. I pray for her. I pray for the woman I spoke to yesterday, planning to tell the children they are divorcing. I pray for the man who called for the name of a marriage counselor, because the tension is so high in their home, but they want to stay together. I pray for the person who turned in a prayer leaf saying that his or her last unemployment check was last week. I pray for the family who is awaiting results of the latest biopsy. I pray for the child who is afraid of his own mother and father. I pray for all those who had a hard time coming up with “one thing to be thankful for” at the dinner table yesterday.
God, this Sunday is the first Sunday of advent, a new year on the Christian calendar. I pray that it will be a new start for those who have suffered this year. I pray that you might use me to speak hope and potential into their lives. I pray that all of us might be bearers of your hope, that the words and actions of the people of St. Luke’s will help others to believe that God’s purposes for them will be accomplished, and that God’s love is stronger than whatever challenge they are facing. Thank you God, for giving us hope for tomorrow, and calling each one of us to be a beacon of that hope.
In Christ, I pray.
KEY VERSE FOR THE WEEK:
So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. –Isaiah 55:11
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION:
How would you explain to someone else the hope that is within you? Who has spoken or acted hope into your life? To whom might you regift hope this season?
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
This week we begin our Advent series on “Re-Gifting Christmas” My grandmother used to give my grandfather the same gift year after year. Then, when he wasn’t looking after Christmas, she would take it from him and put it in her cedar chest to save, so she could give it to him again the next year. He was always pleased to receive it! If you have great “regifting stories,” it would be fun to hear them. Send ‘em right away! This week, we will talk about regifting hope. This is a really important message, and I hope if you are traveling, you will either listen to the podcast, or worship with us via livestream at one of our services.
I hope you received your advent mailer and devotional guide. It will make a difference in your season if you choose to participate in the prayers and daily activities. Also take note of all the great events coming up in this season. You can also check out all the activities here.
Sunday, November 27
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
Hope of the world enter our hearts anew this week. Amen.
Monday, November 28
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
Father God, it’s a new week, and a new season—Advent. I am so over- whelmed at the whirlwind of activity and traffic all around me, yet you call me to sit at your feet. Thank you that you loved me even before I arrived on the planet. You entered as a babe on a busy night so long ago so that I would have the hope of eternity in you. Thank you that you keep your loving gaze upon me. This week I choose to breathe, slow down and smile. Amen —Prayer by Suzi Pitts
Write the name you like to use for God in the middle of a piece of paper. Write down your hopes for the world, our country and your life. When you are finished, let your mind rest and listen. Enjoy the silence.
Tuesday, November 29
O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore. Psalms 131:3
Lord, thank you for your faithfulness. As the days fill with the noise and bustle of the season, may you stir my heart to hope in you. Regardless of the needs of the day, you are my hope, my strength, and my joy. Let that hope shine from me and light the lives of others. Amen.
Think of one thing that is contributing to your frenetic pace this season. Give it up this week and spend that time with someone who needs a listening ear.
Wednesday, November 30
Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 40:4-5
Heavenly Father, You sent your Son that we might have peace. And I already feel so stressed about my holiday to-do list. Give me focus on the things that really matter. Amen.
Write a prayer of hope for a special friend or loved one.
Thursday, December 1
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near—
Joel 2:1 —Prayer by Doug Christians
Heavenly Father, Hear our prayer: help us to be obedient to You and to follow in the ways that makes us closer to You. Prepare our hearts and minds to accept your grace and forgiveness for anything we may have done wrong. Make everyone aware of your desires to be close to us and have a personal relationship with us. Then guide us to walk in this life in a way that prepares us for eternity; for we know that day is coming; it is near. Amen.
Call a friend or loved one who has been a source of hope in a difficult time and thank him or her.
Friday, December 2
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:1
Dear Lord, He’s coming! He’s coming! Something amazing is about to happen. It is during this Advent season that we are hopeful and excited about the birth of Jesus. We ask that you continue to share this hope with us during this season. In Your name we pray. Amen.
—Prayer by Addison (Age 8) and Jack (Age 10) Conner
Regift hope and send an uplifting card (not email) to someone who is homebound.
Saturday, December 3
Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.
Our most heavenly Father, thank you for your continued guidance as you lead us down the path of righteousness. Thank you for teaching us that you are the truth and the way to salvation. Lord help us to be patient as we wait for you to show us the things that we don’t understand. Give us the encouragement and reminder that you are our rock in times of need and you are always by our side as we accept the journey with you into your kingdom. We are so thankful for the blessings that you continue to put before us. Lord we trust you and thank you for loving us. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen. —Prayer by Steve Lufburrow
Plant an Amaryllis or Narcissus bulb. Patiently waiting and watching as the roots and plant shoots serve as a visual reminder that growing and grounding are a joint effort.