Dr. Tom Pace, Dr. Tom Pace lll, Senior Pastor St. Lukes UMC, Sr Pastor St Lukes

God of all times and all people in all places,

You know how I hate conflict and tension. I suspect there are some people who love a good fight – sort of “bring it on.” But not me, God. I just want us all to get along. Is that just an unreasonable expectation, God? I read your scripture to call for “shalom,” peace with justice, everything in harmony. You tell me that if I come to the altar with gifts, and my brother or sister has something against me, I should leave my gift at the altar and go fix things and then come and offer my gift. Your prophets tell me that in your kingdom, the wolf will lie down with the lamb. You challenge me to “do the things that make for peace.” But it seems that conflict remains all around me.

I guess we just aren’t quite there, yet. We haven’t figured out how to live fully as your children, and so conflict is an ever-present part of life. God, how can I manage it? How can I find your presence in the midst of it rather than avoiding it? How can I keep it from standing in the way of your purposes in this world? How can I grow as a result of it?

I marvel at what a practical God you are. You work in the midst of the nitty-gritty decisions in which sacrifices are made, and people figure out how to live together. You do not abandon us when our attitudes and motivations are broken and misguided, but continue to work to show us ways forward. Your kingdom is emerging, not so much with magical answers, but with the hard, challenging work of compromise and small steps forward.

God, I pray that you would show me how to deal with conflict. Give me the insight to know when to just let things go. Give me the courage to speak the truth in love when necessary. Give me the wisdom to seek compromise when it is called for and establish boundaries that are right and just, so that I might move forward toward your preferred future for my life, and for the whole world.

In the name of the Prince of Peace, I pray. Amen.

This Sunday, July 21, I will continue our sermon series “Father Abraham Had Many Sons (and Daughters).” We continue with the story of Jacob, and discuss his boundary deal with Laban. Our sermon is called “Coming to Terms.”

I am so excited to introduce to you two new staff people. Rev. Michelle Manuel joins our staff as a Pastor in group life, moving to St. Luke’s from the Woodlands UMC. Michelle will be focused on developing small group ministries, as Rev. Thomas Harper is working in Congregational Care and Prayer Ministry. You may remember Michelle when she preached for us earlier this spring. She is married to Quentin, and they have a one year old son Abraham. We continue working with our Bishop to find a new Senior Associate Minister. Justin Bair joins our staff as Worship Coordinator, as Noralyn Carpenter is retiring and moving to California to be “Nana on call.” Justin has been a high school music teacher. He and his wife Lauren have a three year old daughter Norah and a seven week old daughter Ivy.

I hope you will consider sponsoring a child in the Christian Community Service Center back to school drive. Your $45 provides school supplies and uniforms for one of the thousands of under-resourced children in Houston. You can sign up at the table by the Sanctuary, or contact Madeline Beem at [email protected].

Sunday, July 21
Lord, we lift up our priorities as a congregation. Give us ears to hear what Your Spirit is saying to our church. Open our eyes to see things as You see them. Help us move beyond issues of immediate need to pursuing Kingdom issues. Bring us to a place where “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is more than just words we say. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, July 22
Compassionate Father, so many people here are suffering. Only You know the depth and breadth of the burdens carried here. Grant us all wisdom to know how we can be an instrument of Your peace, both tangibly and intangibly. Amen.

Tuesday, July 23
Almighty God, we’ve come to the middle of summer – a time of relaxation – and yet it feels like we haven’t gotten any rest. We’ve filled our calendars and our days with activities too numerous to count but we haven’t set aside time for worship, prayer or community. Help us to carve out space in our lives to be more intentional in our relationship with you and our relationships with the people you have put in our lives. Amen.

Wednesday, July 24
Heavenly Father, we pray for our children who have drifted away from your teachings and from the church. We pray, God, that you would pursue them and bring them back into a community of faith. Give them what they need to turn back towards you, and place Christian mentors in their lives to help them. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Thursday, July 25
Most Gracious Lord, when life gets complicated and painful, full of shame or sadness, help us to know your unconditional love. Thank you for the people you put in our lives to support us and encourage us during difficulties. Let our hearts know your love that heals, restores, and makes all things new. Let us experience new life that comes from your grace and remember that nothing can separate us from your love. Amen.

Friday, July 26
Father God, we are so grateful for the many blessings you give us each and every day. For the new life that we have in your Son Jesus and for the mission that you call us to be the very hands and feet of your church. Help us to cultivate a heart of gratitude so that we can better see and enjoy all that you have given us. In your name we pray, Amen.

Saturday, July 27
Dear God, we ask for special blessings on each Sunday School class at St. Luke’s. We pray for the teachers and class leaders for the Holy Spirit to guide and inspire them as they teach and conduct class business. We also pray for each class member to use Sunday School as a learning experience while encouraging her/his teacher. Finally, we pray for each class to increase in size and influence. In Jesus name. Amen.