A PERSONAL PRAYER
God of love,
It is getting pretty crazy. Stuff to do at work. Planning for next year. Thinking about year end. Lots of worship services. Wanting it all to be just right. Stuff to do at home. Christmas gifts to think about. Parties coming up. Christmas cards to send. Thank you notes to write.
So in the midst of all of this, what really matters? It was in the cacophony of Bethlehem, packed full of people because of a census taken by a crazy king, that a simple ordinary thing happened in a simple ordinary stable. A little baby was born, and the world would never be the same. I pray that in the midst of all of this, a simple thing would happen in my life. You will be born into my life yet again, and nothing will ever be the same.
God, I know I need to prepare for your arrival. I need you, Holy Spirit, to enter in and push aside the clutter to get my heart and life centered. Show me how to prepare for that. Open my eyes that I might discover what really matters in the midst of all of this activity and busyness. Let me really experience that which is at the heart of this season, that these days might be, for me and all of us, holy and sacred.
In the name of the one for whom we wait, I pray. Amen.
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
What are the days leading up to Christmas really all about? We call it the “holiday season,” which is really short for “holy days season.” What is holy about it? In the craziness of preparing for Christmas, we can often lose sight of the real essence of the season. This Sunday, December 2, we begin a new series of sermons in which we consider the values that underlie the season of Advent and Christmas. Our first sermon in the series “Tis the Season for…” is titled “Simplicity.” Let’s get down to the heart of the matter – a simple message of good news.
Please join us for dinner this Monday night, December 3, in the Fellowship Hall. St. Luke’s Christmas offering this year will be to support the creation of a preschool on our Gethsemane campus. The Early Childhood Education Project will help to pay to renovate a wing on that campus to bring it up to code, as well as some start up costs to get the program going. To register for the dinner, click here. (Even though it says the deadline is Thursday, go ahead and register and come on anyway!) To find out more, or to support this effort, click here.
Thanks to everyone who has made a financial commitment to St. Luke’s for our 2019 ministries. Here is a status update: We have received 1012 commitments for approximately $7.3 million dollars toward our goal of 1320 commitments for $8.5 million to fund ministries for 2019. Every amount matters, because it is the strength of shared commitment that makes things happen. If you are a member of St. Luke’s and have not had a chance to make your commitment, you can view some important information and make a commitment online here. We use all of the information to make decisions about ministries and projects we want to undertake, and we very much want this to be a time in which we are all working together to accomplish our goals.
We have so much going on during this season, and I would love to have you be a part of it. If you want to know more about all of St. Luke’s Advent activities, click here.
Sunday, December 2
Lord, Thank you for the gift of worship, which provides us an opportunity to come together as a church to spend time with you and renew our spirits. God, we know that there are people in the world who cannot freely worship you. We pray for those who are persecuted because of their faith. We pray that you would give them courage, sustain them, and protect them as they live in faithfulness to you. Lord, we also pray that you would help us to remember that our freedom to worship you is a gift of high value. Amen.
Monday, December 3
Lord, we thank you for the gift of work. You have blessed us with unique gifts and talents which allow us to provide for our families. Lord, we pray for those who are unemployed. We pray that you would help them to make connections that open doors to meaningful employment. Please provide for them and give them encouragement. Help us to see our jobs as opportunities to further your kingdom here on earth. Amen.
Tuesday, December 4
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of friends who walk alongside us through the ups and downs of life. Thank you for those special friends who bless us each day with loving kindness and support. Show us how to be a blessing to them also. Amen.
Wednesday, December 5
Gracious God, the Great Physician, we thank you for the gift of good health which allows us to do everything that we need to do. We pray for those who are sick and need physical healing. Grant them comfort as they undergo medical procedures, peace as they await test results, and support as they rely on family and friends. Then, O Lord, we pray for your miraculous healing to restore them to good health. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.
Thursday, December 6
Almighty God, thank you for the gift of education. Thank you for the capacity to learn new things, the opportunities to study and grow and the mentors and teachers who invest their time in us. We pray, Lord, that you be with those who may lack the opportunity for education as well as those who have learning disabilities. Please provide new opportunities for them to grow and learn. Help us to share our gifts, our talents, and our time with them. Amen.
Friday, December 7
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of family. Thank you for binding us together with love. We pray for healing of broken family relationships; grant us opportunities for reconciliation. Help us to forgive and offer grace to bring harmony back into our troubled relationships. We also pray for those who are without their family; help us to show them the love of their church family. Amen.
Saturday, December 8
Almighty God, we thank you for the gift of knowledge which allows us to make better decisions. We confess that we often think we know it all and fail to see things from someone else’s point of view. We even allow knowledge to divide us and separate us from others who think differently. Help us, O Lord, to remember that our human knowledge and understanding of things is so very limited compared to yours. We seek your guidance to help us to use our knowledge to do good things that will bring about unity and to make the world a better place. Amen.