A PERSONAL PRAYER Dear Jesus,
The other day after a sermon about the idols we worship, someone confessed to me that he has made “comfort and happiness” his god. I thought a lot about that. I think I can make the same confession. So many times I long for life to be easy. I find myself wondering why everything seems challenging, why nothing just flows along nicely without any bumps and bruises along the way. I think, “well, I must be doing something wrong. If I was doing it right, then life would be going smoothly.” Ah, but now I see it. It isn’t supposed to be easy. And maybe I am not supposed to be happy and comfortable all the time. And maybe instead, the challenges mean that I am doing something right, because anything that is worth doing is going to be hard.
In the Bible, I see you telling your followers that we will face trouble. I read you saying that people are going to hate us. I hear you reminding us that you went to the cross and gave your life for us in love and that we are called to do the same thing.
Strange, I have never really considered whether you were “happy” in the years you walked among us. I certainly don’t see you happy on the way to the cross. Instead, you tell us that you have joy and that we can make your joy complete by living as you taught us to live. But joy must be something deeper, maybe completely unrelated to happiness. God, I think joy is that sense of satisfaction that comes when you are doing something for someone else. Joy seems to be the fruit that emerges when you are fed and led by the Holy Spirit. I guess joy is that internal sense of being truly alive, even in the midst of pain. And you call it “my joy.” I want your joy in me.
But that doesn’t mean it will be easy. So, Jesus, in the midst of challenges, give me the strength to keep from giving up or giving in. Help me to stay faithful. Keep that hope alive within me, so that I will lean into the challenges you have for me, and know your joy.
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
I hope you are planning ahead for your Holy Week experiences.
- Sunday 4/14: Palm Sunday Picnic on Blanton Field, 11:00 – 1:00
- Wednesday, 4/17: foot washing prayer service in the Chapel at 7:00
- Thursday, 4/18: Maundy Thursday Passion story from the Gospel of John in chant and communion service in the Chapel at noon, and communion service in the Sanctuary with Dr. Linda Christians preaching at 7:00 pm
- Friday, 4/19: Good Friday service of the Tenebrae at 7:00 pm in the Sanctuary
- Saturday, 4/20: Anticipation of Easter service in the Chapel, 11:00
- Easter Sunday, 4/21: Traditional Worship in the Sanctuary, 8:00, 9:00, 10:05, 11:10 am; Contemporary in the Fellowship Hall at 9:15. (Come to the 8:00 service and that will leave more room for others at the later services, and you will find a parking space and a seat, and no waiting in line!)
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.
This week, we continue our sermon series “The Book of Glory,” looking at the last half of the gospel of John, which outlines the last few days Jesus spends with his disciples before the crucifixion. This week, we take a look at Jesus’ prayer for you and for me, found in John 17. On his way to the cross, he doesn’t pray for himself. He prays for us. Come and worship with us and let’s talk about that prayer.
Sunday, April 7
Dear Gracious Jesus, may we intently travel this Lenten season to the cross walking beside you and holding your hand tight. We know the incredible sacrifice you made for our salvation. Let us continue to faithfully pass on your love, passion, and forgiveness to everyone in our path. Amen. -Prayer by Chris LaFollette
Monday, April 8
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of Mondays. Thank you for the start of a new week with new opportunities to join you in your Kingdom work here on earth. Fill me with your light of life, and guide me to share your light with those whom I meet today. Amen.
Tuesday, April 9
God, thank you for the celebration of Lent and the spiritual opportunities that you provide for me. Give me the courage to boldly try something new that takes me out of my comfort zone and leads me further in my journey of faith. Amen.
Wednesday, April 10
Jesus, I come to you knowing that I have failed to meet the expectations that you want so badly for me, yet you still love me each and every day. I pray during this season of Lent that I will have a renewed focus to live my life better than yesterday. With your help, I will succeed. Amen.
-Prayer by J. David Anderson, Goodwill Sunday School Class
Thursday, April 11
Heavenly Father, thank you for all of the blessings you give to us every day. Thank you for providing for our needs and for always being there for us. Thank you for your unconditional love. Amen.
Friday, April 12
Gracious God, we confess that we oftentimes look at things from a pessimistic point-of-view. Help us to remember that when you created the world, you made it very good. Teach us to look for the good things in all situations with grateful hearts. Amen.
Saturday, April 13
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gifts of eternal salvation in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit of truth. Guide our thoughts and actions so that we may point the world back to you. Set us apart so that others may see your love in us and will want to come to know you also. Amen.