A PERSONAL PRAYER
I confess that I have grown cynical about some things. I see problems in the world, and don’t see how they can really be solved. I see challenges in my life, and figure I will never be able to overcome them. My logic tells me I am right to feel such a way. We humans are flawed, sinful, so we will always be hurting one another, taking more than our share of things, treating others as objects to be used. And the world is a broken place, and diseases and tragedies will always be with us.
And yet, when I look around, I see miracles all over. People who are sick are healed. Broken relationships are restored better than they were before. Grieving people find joy again. You came to save us from our sin, and you are with us doing that work of salvation every day.
So today, O God, as I wait for the birth of your son, I choose to expect to be amazed at what you will do. I choose to believe you will save us from our sins. Open my eyes to the wonder of your astonishing power and goodness. Let me see your salvation, and follow it right to the manger.
In the name of Jesus, the one who is coming, I pray.
KEY VERSE FOR THE WEEK
For nothing will be impossible with God. Luke 1:37
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION AND REFLECTION
What seems impossible in your life? In your view of the world? What would it mean to “believe” in the face of that apparent impossibility?
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
Advent and Christmas Events and Schedule
Everything Advent and Christmas is right here, and there is a lot going on before we get to Christmas Eve. Let me remind you that on Christmas Eve, we will have an abbreviated schedule in the morning, with traditional morning services at 11:00 a.m. only on Westheimer and Gethsemane campuses. The Story has 8:30 a.m. carol singing and one morning service at 11:05 a.m. These morning services will be Christmas Eve services, with the same message as the services in the afternoon and evening. Those service times are right here.
Christmas Festival This Sunday!
This Sunday morning is St. Luke’s Christmas Festival in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 traditional services on the Westheimer Campus. We will have a full orchestra and chancel choir at all the services. It is always the highlight of the Advent season, and I know you will be blessed! Come and join us! As part of the worship service, I will share thoughts on “Expect Wonder,” the third in our series of sermons “What Do You Expect?”
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.
reVision Houston was founded by some visionary folks from St. Luke’s and St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, and it is a part of our work on the Gethsemane Campus. Its mission is to revision what “family” looks like, and to create communities of kinship for at risk young people. Their Soccer Team, reVision FC, received a grant from Dick’s Sporting Goods, and you should check out this powerful video about the team. Go to reVision Houston website and find out more about their work www.houstonrevision.org.
Sunday, December 17
Amazing God, renew in us a sense of wonder, like that of a child the first time she sees a Christmas tree lit up at night, like the shepherds taking that first step to Bethlehem, not knowing what they’ll find but excited to find out. Open our hearts so we might expect miracles. Open our eyes that we might see them. Thaw our disenchanted hearts, and help us turn to wonder. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen. -Prayer by Rev. David Horton
Monday, December 18
Lord, thank you for your many blessings. We are surrounded by the wonder and excitement of Christmas. We try to keep the source of our wonder the miracle of Christ’s birth and the magnitude of your extraordinary gift. We continue to be dazzled by the surprises and the miracles of reconciliation and reconnection that occur during this joyous season. Holiday distractions often cloud our focus, Lord; I pray we never fail to live lives of generosity and gratitude for your countless and unexpected gifts. Through the Holy Spirit, we cling to your strong presence in our lives as we celebrate the birth of Christ, our Savior. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Tuesday, December 19
Precious, sweet Jesus. I close my eyes and see you. I wonder at your ten tiny fingers, ten tiny toes, soft skin, and deep brown eyes. I look at you and I am overwhelmed and flooded with emotion. I want to hold you close to me as my tears trickle down my cheeks. Amen.
Wednesday, December 20
Dear Lord, may we see the miracles you are working around us and receive with gratitude and awe the overwhelming wonder of love. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Thursday, December 21
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the work that you are doing through the Christian Community Service Center to provide for those in need. As we bring our Christmas offering for CCSC, open our hearts to share your blessings with others. Work through us to bless our neighbors as you have blessed us. Amen
Friday, December 22
Dear Heavenly Father, as we get caught up in the wonders of Christmas, let us remember the wonders you have done, things you have planned, and know that none can compare to you. Then open us up to new wonders of your love and help us grow. Thank you for filling us with joy as the magic wonder of the season is revealed. Amen.
Saturday, December 23
Dear Lord, we need to slow down and appreciate the wonder of this time of celebration. We get caught up in all the bright lights and the gifts under the tree, but we really need to stick to basics and give thanks for the wonder of your gift of the Christ Child. I confess, Lord, the excitement that seems to fill the very air we breathe is not always about your gift of that innocent babe; we get side-tracked by all the tinsel everywhere. Please remind us to celebrate the wonder of the way in which lives have been changed because of this holy child’s birth. What a wonder-filled gift to receive. In His name we pray, Amen.
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