A PERSONAL PRAYER
God of indescribable, unfathomable, incomprehensible love,
As dawn broke on Friday morning,
your beloved Son was on the way to the court of the pavements between the fortress and the temple.
The long prayer of agony in the garden was accomplished.
The betrayal was complete.
The arrest was carried out.
The midnight trial was over.
Peter’s denial was so fresh on his mind.
Still ahead was the unfaithfulness of the crowd,
the treachery of the religious leaders,
the weak will of Pilate,
the scourge and the thorns and beatings,
the long walk with a crosspiece on your bloodied back,
the nails and the spear,
the gasping for breath,
the cries of anguish and of love.
It really is hard to comprehend, God, his suffering and your love, and his love and your suffering. He was so clear about you and he being one and the same. It seems that it is seldom the two don’t go together-love and suffering. Seems that real love often hurts.
And they call it Good Friday? Good because it shows who you really are and just how much you love us. Good because somehow, in his willingness to die, he broke down the wall of sin between us and you.
If I didn’t know there was Easter, I am not sure I could bear it – the guilt of it all, that it is my sins for which he suffered and died. You taught us who he would be through your prophet Isaiah’s suffering servant song:
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried-
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him-our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
on him, on him. Isaiah 53:3-6 (The Message)
But God, I know there is resurrection. The worst thing is not the last thing. The pain of today is the seed for the harvest of Sunday. Can I believe it? Will I choose to believe it?
God, thank you for all of it. For the suffering. For the dying. For the waiting. And most of all for the resurrection. Work in my heart and life that I might believe, and have life both abundant and eternal.
In the name of the Crucified and Risen Christ, I pray. Amen
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
Company’s coming! On Easter Sunday we will welcome over 6,000 people to our campus to worship the risen Lord. Many of these folks will be first time guests. We hope you will join us in praying that their first experience at St. Luke’s will be so welcoming and joy-filled that they will want to return. In addition to praying, here are other ways you can help: Consider attending the 8:00 a.m. Traditional service (all four Traditional services are the same), or the 9:15 a.m. Contemporary service. The parking will be easy, and there will be plenty of seats. Another idea, if you are able, is to park on the 3rd floor of the garage or in the parking lot at the corner of Buffalo Speedway and Westheimer, so we leave parking for our guests. Finally, be sure to welcome everyone with a warm smile and a Happy Easter!
Please join us for all of our worship experiences this Easter weekend. (more information here)
- Friday, 4/19: Good Friday service of the Tenebrae at 7 p.m. in the Sanctuary
- Saturday, 4/20: Anticipation of Easter service in the Chapel, 11 a.m.
- Easter Sunday, 4/21: Traditional Worship in the Sanctuary, 8, 9, 10:05, 11:10 a.m.; Contemporary Worship in the Fellowship Hall at 9:15 a.m.
Our Easter offering this year supports AVDA – Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse. I hope you had the opportunity to hear about it in worship last week. AVDA takes a holistic approach by advocating for the safety and self-determination of victims, promoting accountability for abusers, and fostering a community response to abuse. Last year alone, AVDA served 4,042 adult and children victims and 901 abusers. The organization’s outreach efforts reached 16,000 adults and youth. From intervention to prevention, the AVDA staff works tirelessly on behalf of abuse survivors to end family violence in our community. If you want to know more, go tohttps://avda-tx.org/. You can give online here.
Sunday, April 21 – Easter Sunday
O God of Life, today death has no dominion over me. I am alive abundantly. I am alive eternally. I am alive in you. The empty tomb is a sign – you are alive – alive in our midst, alive in my heart. And because you live, I also can live. Alleluia! Amen! -Prayer by Dr. Tom Pace
Monday, April 22
Heavenly Father, as we return to our daily life after celebrating Lent and Easter, help us to remember the power of the resurrection and the gift of your grace. Let us no longer settle for ordinary things, but help us to seek first your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Tuesday, April 23
Dear God, thank you for all the Kid’s Hope volunteers. Please guide each relationship as the children learn about the joys of friendship with their mentors. Bless their times together each week with smiles and laughter. In the name of your son Jesus I pray. Amen. -Prayer by Becky Palmer
Wednesday, April 24
Dear God, You have graciously given me yet another day filled with many blessings to enjoy. Thank you. I confess, however, that I often fail to focus on my blessings but rather find myself dwelling on my past mistakes and worrying about what may happen in the future. Help me to joyfully live in the present, to rejoice in the day the Lord has made and to be glad in it. Amen.
Thursday, April 25
Gracious and loving God, thank you for the gift of our faith community. Help us reach out and connect with those who may have different perspectives. Keep our hearts and minds open and guide us to value the amazing diversity of the world you have given us. Fill us with your spirit of love and gentleness. Amen. -Prayer by Cheryl Bryan, Genesis Class
Friday, April 26
Dear Heavenly Father, I live in wonderment of your presence and how you show up in my life. Even when I try to hide in darkness, you find me, often in the least expected places with the least expected people. You bless me with the St. Luke’s Community…who meets me in my walk. I immediately feel their strength and encouragement. They are with me in my brokenness. Heartfelt gratitude for the magnitude of this Community…so undeserving, yet, so abundantly given. It’s all about you God. Let me be your window in Christ. Amen. -Prayer by Debbi Brod
Saturday, April 27
Heavenly Father, we are grateful for the privilege of residing in the USA with its many freedoms. We pray for our nation and, especially, for its leaders. Micah 6:8 tells us: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV) Lord, we ask you to instill in each leader the ability and courage to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you while performing the jobs for which they were elected or appointed. Amen. -Prayer by Neil Stovall, Goodwill Sunday School Class