A PERSONAL PRAYER
As I pray, images and conversations spin around me regarding murders of people, many children, in a high school in Florida. Parkland is a long way away from here, and it would be nice to think of the incident as a sad story that has very little to do with me.
But I know better. John Donne says “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” I am a part of a world that is broken, and I have a part in its brokenness. I enjoy television shows full of violence, and yet think that I have no part in the problem of the violent world we live in. I take in the sexy scenes of popular movies, but think I have no part in sexual predation or pornography. I turn my head away from lost and hurting people in my own neighborhood and world, but think that an angry and deranged young man in Florida isn’t connected to me. I am blind to the truth, too obstinate to receive it in my heart.
When I read the Bible, you tell me that we live in a world that is interconnected. When one of us hurts, we all hurt. When one rejoices, we all rejoice. The prophets spoke out against the whole people of Israel, not just “a few bad apples,” because together they shared all the guilt. And like a dysfunctional family where each member has our role in the dysfunction, we all play our part in the problems that haunt us.
So what now? I am praying for families in Florida, for those injured, and even for the young man who destroyed so many lives. Still, it feels like I can’t do much to help families so far away, but I can push to do something for others right where I live. I can push back the darkness in my city, on my block, in my workplace. And I can face the truth of my own complicity in the sin of the world we live in.
So Lord, I repent. I turn again and seek to live differently, and do everything I can to be part of the solution rather than the problem. Help me. Help all of us. We need a savior.
In the name of the one who came to save us from our sin,
KEY VERSE FOR THE WEEK
He said to me, Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey.—Ezekiel 3:3 Read the whole scripture passages for Sunday’s sermon here: Ezekiel 3:1-11
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION AND REFLECTION
What truth about your life do you think you have been avoiding? What benefit might you discover if you faced that truth?
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
New Sermon Series and Study: These Bones Shall Live!
Our Lenten sermon series and study this year is based on the book of Ezekiel. There are hard truths we often avoid. There are things we don’t want to hear. There are consequences to the decisions we make and lifestyles we choose, and we would rather not think about them. But the prophet reminds us that truth and consequences will catch up to us. And the prophet also helps us to see that God can redeem us, and put the broken pieces back together again. Beginning this week, and continuing through the Sunday after Easter, we will talk together each Sunday about the truth God has for us, and how we can receive it.
Along with the sermon series, our Scripture + Shared Bible study will also focus on this prophet. The video lessons are team taught by Eric Huffman and me. You can do them alone on your Scripture + Shared app, or sign up for one of our Lenten Living in Faith Together (LIFT) groups here.
We have a number of opportunities you may want to be a part of for Lent and Easter this year. You can find it on the events tab of St. Luke’s new app (search St Lukes UMC Houston) or online at https://www.stlukesmethodist.org/easter/. You might check out the Lenten Path on the south lawn of the church at the purple bell banners on the lampposts. Our Easter Offering this year is Plant with Purpose, an organization that is doing some really cool things to fight poverty and empower people to provide for themselves around the world. Check it out here.
Sunday, February 18
Father God, we ask that you would breathe new life into these bones of ours. Forgive us for the ways we have fallen short of being your church or have been distracted by other things that are not rooted in you. Call us to rise up again and be your people for the transformation of this world. Thou are mine and we are thine. Amen. -Prayer by Rev. Thomas Harper
Monday, February 19
God, I pray that everyone will be nice to each other and have fun in their life. I love you, Jesus. Amen. -Child’s Prayer
Tuesday, February 20
Dear God, When we find ourselves in a situation with someone who is difficult to deal with, please help us to remember your words are merciful, as you are merciful. Help us to take a deeper look at the situation and see what that person really needs. Then, guide us to help. Let us be kind. Amen.
Wednesday, February 21
Dear Lord, We know that it is right to give thanks to you for you are good and your steadfast love endures forever. Help us during our busy days to thank you for the many blessings you give us and for your care and presence which is always with us. Grow in us thankful hearts. Amen.
Thursday, February 22
Dear Father, Thank you for letting our lives be a work in progress. You forgive us and guide us as we continue to grow. You accept us with love and your saving grace. Glory be to you Father, Amen.
Friday, February 23
Heavenly Father, life is full of ups and downs. Let us remember that you are with us and you will never leave us. Give us peace during the hard times and help us to keep our focus on you during the good times. Thank you, God, for your love; you are good…all of the time. Amen.
Saturday, February 24
Dear Lord, be with those who have been diagnosed with cancer over the past year. Grant them peace in your presence and the strength to fight their illness. Help them to know that they are loved and cherished by their family and friends. Amen.
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