A PERSONAL PRAYER
God of love,
When I read the papers, watch the news, read and hear the comments, it seems that the animosity towards others is overwhelming. It appears folks have all chosen a team, and have little good to say about anyone on another team. I would like to believe that it is only the people on the fringe, but it seems deeper than that. You know, God, how hard I try to bring people together, to unite people around our mission, to share your truth as I understand it in a way that people can receive it in grace. And you know that I am fully aware that I have my own biases, that I may very well be wrong in my understandings, and will one day “know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Cor 13:12) Guide me, God, in my thoughts, words, and actions, that they may faithfully represent your will.
I confess today that too often, those of us in the church look a whole lot like those of us in the world. We pull away from those with whom we disagree. We campaign for our own self-interest. We divide over non-essentials. We judge others rather than examining ourselves. And as the world watches us, they don’t see any difference between us and others in the world. Forgive us, God, and show us how to live like your son showed us rather than jumping aboard the thoughts, words, and deeds of our chosen tribe. Show me a different way, God.
I remember Jesus prayed for us, “that we may be one.” So I join him in that prayer today. Only you can draw us together, as the family of all Christians, as a nation, as a world. Show me how I can be a part of that work of reconciliation.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
This Sunday, September 8, we begin a new three-week sermon series called “Better Together.” In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Paul says “I hear there are divisions among you…” Boy does this speak to what is going on in our world, in our time. Looking at passages from 1 Corinthians 11-13, we will explore together both the theological framework and practical suggestions for not just tolerating one another, but actually living in love together. We can be diverse in opinion but united in mission and love. I hope you will invite your friends and colleagues, whether they are folks with whom you agree or folks with whom you struggle. Both the church and the world so desperately need to hear the “more excellent way” that Paul shares with the church at Corinth. This week, our sermon is based on 1 Corinthians 11:17-29, and is titled “The Jesus Jersey.”
Sunday, September 8, is our Fall Kick-Off. Children will move up to their new Sunday School classes. Food and fun in the Fellowship Hall from 11:00-1:00, and yes, the other pastors and I will take our turns in the dunk tank if you want to see us get wet. This is a great day to bring a friend to worship!
The best way to find a place to belong at St. Luke’s is to join a small group. Sign up for the Small Groups Launch on September 24, and invite someone else to sign up, too! Visit https://www.stlukesmethodist.org/small-groups-launch.
Did you miss last week’s sermon on September 1? Watch it here.
Sunday, September 8 – Fall Kickoff
Lord God, as we begin a new season we pause to take a breath and reflect on all that you have blessed us with this past summer. We are so grateful for the trips, events, and moments that we have shared with our loved ones. Looking forward, we pray that we would follow the path that your Holy Spirit lays out before us. Help us not to be anxious but expectant, to face the fall season with a joyful and gracious heart. We look forward to all that is to come as we round out 2019. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen. -Prayer by Rev. Thomas Harper
Monday, September 9
God, we sometimes dread the start of a new work week, but today we pray that you would help us to see our work differently. We pray that you would open our eyes to new opportunities to serve you through our work. Please bless our efforts, and remind us that we are working for you. Amen.
Tuesday, September 10
Healing God, we pray for our children who are sick and fighting serious illnesses. We pray that you would ease their pain and make their treatments successful. We pray that you would miraculously heal them and restore them to good health all the days of their lives. Amen.
Wednesday, September 11 – Patriot Day
Heavenly Father, as we remember the victims who died on this day in 2001, we pray for comfort for their families who have had to go on without them. We thank you, Lord, that in the midst of that horror you brought us together as a nation to love and help one another. We pray that you would help us to remember that feeling of unity we found in you on that day and help us to work together to do good things as one nation united by your love. Amen.
Thursday, September 12
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the Stephen Ministers here at St. Luke’s. We appreciate all of the time they have spent in training to help us, and we thank you that they are here to listen to us and walk alongside us through our struggles. Please bless them and their families as they selflessly volunteer their time for us. Amen.
Friday, September 13
Heavenly Creator, we thank you for loving us unconditionally and for never leaving us. We are grateful for Jesus who gives us the example of how to live and love. Please continue to guide us and grow us in our journey of faith. Amen.
Saturday, September 14
Our Father in Heaven, we pray for those who are currently incarcerated. We pray that you would help them come to know true forgiveness that comes from you through your son, Jesus. We pray that you would redeem them and give them hope. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.