A PERSONAL PRAYER
God of Love,
You seem to have sent some conflicting messages, and I get confused sometimes. It seems that how I view the arrival of the Messiah depends a bit on the prophet to whom I listen. Some of the prophets speak of doom, of fear, of all sorts of bad things. The prophet Amos proclaims, “Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light.” Amos 5:18 On the other hand, the prophet Isaiah claims that when the Messiah comes, “they will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:9 Which is it? I suppose all of us should wonder, and tremble a little when God becomes a human being and rings our doorbell. When he comes, what will he be like? A warrior? A mighty judge? What will God say when he speaks to me about my life?
And then I read the story, God. I can hardly believe that when your Messiah came, he arrives as a tiny, vulnerable child. Poor. On the margins of his culture. Born of a woman who was a bit of a disgrace to her own family. No mighty king or military leader in this small child. So what could a tiny baby have to offer us?
He can offer us your love. When you arrived in the person of Jesus, you came to demonstrate your love. Not your anger. Not your disappointment in us. Not piling on guilt and shame. Just loving us, and showing us what the Kingdom of God really looks like.
God, I pray for each person who will come through the doors of St. Luke’s on this Christmas Eve. I pray for those who are full of joy, and for those who carry heavy burdens. Let them all understand in some new way your amazing love. Open them to receive the gift of your salvation.
KEY VERSE FOR THE WEEK
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION AND REFLECTION
Who do you know that is in a time of deep, dark, down? How can you be a delivery driver for God’s love?
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
Christmas Eve Schedule
I hope you will join us on Sunday in worship. Note we have only one traditional service on Sunday morning in the Sanctuary – 11:00 a.m., and it is a Christmas Eve service with holy communion. Our full worship schedule for Christmas Eve is right on the front of our website: https://www.stlukesmethodist.org/.
Sermon Series: Getting through the Storms
Hurricane Harvey hit many of us pretty hard. Storms can wreak havoc on our homes and our city. But the greatest storms we face are usually not brought on by the weather. Rather, they are the challenges that come with life, no matter how hard we try to avoid them. Beginning January 14, I will be preaching a sermon series entitled “Getting Through The Storms.” On successive weeks, we will focus on the storms of betrayal, grief, guilt and shame, illness, and addiction. We will talk about what Scripture teaches us about them, and how we can make it through the storm to the sunshine on the other side. We would love to have you join us, and invite folks you know who might find this conversation helpful.
Check out this video about our “Remember the Poor at Christmas” effort with our Christmas offering supporting the Christian Community Service Center.
You need to know about the great work being done by CCSC to provide basic needs to those dealing with material poverty: food, clothing, rental and utility assistance, job training, and services for children. So check out this short video about CCSC’s work. We have a goal to raise at least $500,000 to help CCSC move to the next level of ministry as we look to replace our facility there and help more people with these basic needs. St. Paul says in Galatians, when speaking about the apostles in Jerusalem, “they asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.” Galatians 2:10 I hope you will be generous and remember the poor as part of our Christmas offering. You can make your contribution here.
Sunday, December 24 – Christmas Eve
God of Eternal Love, thank you for your love that never ends and never fails; a love made known to us through your son Jesus the visual image of your sacrificial and unconditional love. Help us to be conduits of your love so that others may be drawn closer to living life with you. Amen. -Prayer by Dr. Linda Christians
Monday, December 25 – Christmas Day
O God, we have prayed that you would tear open the heavens and come down and save us. Today, you humbled yourself to be born as a human being, that you would know my sorrows and my joys, to die my death for me, that you might live within me. It is not enough to say thank you. I pray that I may live my gratitude. Amen. -Prayer by Dr. Tom Pace
Tuesday, December 26
Oh Lord, your love for mankind is apparent in so many ways: the beauty and wonder of your creation, your abundant love and endless patience, and the opportunity to experience loving support in a Christian community; an endless list. We gladly accept that you are present with us in all circumstances; yet often, we simply fail to recognize your hand in ours. Father God, help us feel we are truly active members of your extended family and then encourage us to pass along your love to those to whom love is a stranger. Guide us to open our hearts and allow your powerful love to flow abundantly to others through us. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Wednesday, December 27
Jesus, thank you for loving me. Sometimes I am tired or distracted, and I feel empty. Oh loving Creator, I beg for your forgiveness. Fill me with your patient, boundless, joyful love. Overflow me with your pure love so that I can love others in my midst. Amen.
Thursday, December 28
Gracious God, we are made perfect in your love. Thank you for the gift of a loving Savior who showed us the meaning of unconditional love. Let our words and actions carry your love into the world. Amen.
Friday, December 29
Dear Heavenly Father, you have loved us beyond human reasoning and understanding. As you encircle the world in this season, let us remember the gift of your love, your Son Jesus. May your gracious love be present and power our lives. Thank you for your eternal love that knows no bounds and loving us so, Amen.
Saturday, December 30
Father God, we pray that we will let your overwhelming love fill our hearts so our lives are an outpouring of your love to our families, friends, and even our enemies. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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