God of love,

Sometimes, I win. Sometimes I lose. Sometimes the blues get ahold of me, ah just when I thought I had made it. (With thanksgiving to Carole King, “Sweet Seasons.” But all you boomers knew that.)

It is so easy to give thanks in the good times. My heart is overwhelmed with how you have blessed me. Thanksgiving flows naturally from my heart filled with gratitude. But there are days things aren’t going so well. I am so grateful that those are few and far between, but who knows what life will bring.

I can sure remember some broken places, too. It was awfully hard to find ways to be grateful then. I remember when the pain was almost unbearable. I remember when shame was my constant companion. I remember when my heart was broken and I wondered if it was reparable? Why could I not just smile faithfully through those times? Why could I not be like St. Paul, whose difficulties were far greater than mine, but who said he rejoiced in his suffering.

Still, there has been much to be thankful for in those hard times. Thank you, God,

  • for friends who have been with me in the difficult places on my journey
  • for small victories in the midst of giant defeats
  • for the days that were good before and will be good again
  • for the things I have learned and the changes that challenges have led me to make
  • for the practice of thanksgiving, especially in hard times, and the way it conditions my spirit to practice it all along
  • and most of all for your presence, which I sometimes thought was missing but was with me all along.

God, I know so many people who are living in hard days. Problems with family. Financial crises. Marriages in trouble. Illnesses. Grief. I pray for your comfort for these people. I pray that they will not waste the hard times, but use them for your glory and your purpose. In the midst of these hard times, I pray that you would speak into their hearts so that they can say “yet, I will rejoice in God,” and learn the power of gratitude to change the way they respond to life each and every day.

In Christ….  Amen.

Make sure and see the Pure Sound youth musical in the Rotunda theatre next weekend: Hello Dolly. Thursday, May 2 @ 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 3 @ 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 4 @ 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 5 @ 2:30 p.m. These young people will blow your socks off! Check out the info and get tickets here.

Next Sunday, May 5, we begin a new series of sermons called “Living Forward.” Do you live backwards, continually reminiscing about the good old days? Or do you live sideways, looking at what other people are doing and comparing yourself to them? Or…do you live looking forward, leaning in to whatever God has in store for you? During the month of May, St. Luke’s will consider how we can embrace tomorrow as it comes and live yearning for whatever God has in store for us in the days ahead. Come and join us.

Our Easter offering this year brought in $47,210.10 (so far), supporting AVDA – Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse. One last week to give before we close the offering. 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 to https://avda-tx.org/. You can give online here.

Sunday, April 28
Loving God, you gave us the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves so that we can align our hearts with you and your love. Thank you, Lord, for the complexity of this simple commandment. Help us to wholeheartedly love one another as you have loved us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Monday, April 29
There is nothing I want more, O God, than to be enveloped by your arms and feel that I belong there. Please help me, as I go through life to realize how many other people need love and acceptance too and to open my arms to assure them that they really belong. Amen. -Prayer by John Paukune, Goodwill Sunday School Class

Tuesday, April 30
God of all things good, teach us so that we may learn your ways and stay focused on you. Define us with your love so that the world may see your presence in us and want to come to know you and your great love. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, May 1
Father God, we know that many of your children do not know you. As we go about our day today, please make us aware of those individuals to whom we can be a witness. Then, oh Lord, give us the courage to speak of your great love for them, and as we tell our story, give us the words that they need to hear to open their hearts to you. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, May 2
Dear God, how awesome you are to always be with us! When we worry, let your presence bring peace to our souls. Thank you for being with us every moment of our journey and for holding us close.  Amen.

Friday, May 3
Lord, thank you so much for this church and what the ministries and staff have meant to our entire family. It is not only continuing to do your work but how they do it, with humility and grace, what a blessing for this community. Amen. -Prayer by Greg Williams

Saturday, May 4
Heavenly Father, thank you, God, for your presence. For times when we are uncertain, guide us on your path. When we can’t make it on our own, be with us to help us. Help us to lean on you and not our own understanding. Continue to be with us, and fill us with all we need. We are so grateful for your guidance and your help. Amen.