A PERSONAL PRAYER
God of love,
I confess that it is hard to keep love for your Son at the center of my heart this season. Seems like I am even more distracted by deadlines and tasks to do than ever. And I confess that much of the time, the familiarity of the Christmas message makes it feel less incredible to me than it really is. I find myself going through the motions. I have taken you for granted, God. I have let my sense of amazement grow cold. How unbelievable is the story of a God who, “did not count equality with God as something to be grasped…” (Philippians 2) but was born as a human being, all because you wanted to be with us. It is as if you said, “Don’t come to me. I will come to you.” It is unbelievable indeed. And yet, I do choose to believe!
So, God, this week I ask for your help to respond by worshipping you. As I begin each day, and especially as we worship Christmas Eve, I pray that you would help me to set aside all the tasks and focus my mind fully on you. The rest of each day, God, I pray that I might present the tasks themselves as offerings of worship. I am reminded of the Bryan Adams song, “Everything I do, I do it for you…” When I wrap a gift, may it be an offering to you. When I call a friend, may it be pleasing in your sight. If I peel potatoes on Christmas day, may it be an act of worship, offered in love for you. Just as a carpenter builds for you, and an artist paints for you, may the work I do be done as a gift offered to the Christ child, my version of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.
I love you, God. Thank you for coming to be with me. Amen.
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
Come worship with us on Christmas Eve and bring a friend. The Christmas eve worship schedule is here. A very special thanks to all who work so hard to make Christmas Eve and the whole Advent season so special at St. Luke’s. Ushers and greeters, choirs and all our musicians, worship leaders and pastors, media team folks and communications team members, custodians and maintenance staff, finance team members and children and youth leaders all work hard during this season because we believe it is an opportunity to connect people to this marvelous Savior, Jesus the Christ. I am so grateful for all of them!
This Sunday, December 23, we’ll have our usual service times, and Sunday School is not in session. Childcare for infants through pre-K is available. We conclude our four week sermon series ‘Tis the Season, as we look at the Biblical basis for the cultural values of the Christmas season, considering the value of worship. Almost everyone who claims the name “Christian” chooses to come to church on Christmas Eve. The church needs to have ten different services across our campuses in order to have room for all the folks. Why is that? Why is worship so important to us on this day? And what is that worship supposed to look like? Our message is titled Tis the Season for… Worship.
Check out the neat video about the Early Childhood Education Project for our Gethsemane campus here. On Christmas Eve, we will be contributing 100% of our offering to support the creation of a preschool on our Gethsemane campus. Our Christmas offering will fund the renovation of a wing on our Bellaire Blvd. campus to bring it up to code, as well as provide some startup costs to get the program going.
On January 6, St. Luke’s will kick off a special emphasis which will be a part of our programming for 2019. 2019 is “The Year of Gratitude,” and we will learn to practice thanksgiving daily, and train ourselves to keep gratitude as the basic spiritual response of our Christian life. The habits of our hands and voices help to form the habits of our hearts, and so the practice of thanksgiving daily shapes our hearts to be grateful. Make it a point to be with us in worship on Sunday morning, January 6, and begin the new year by deciding to “Give Thanks In All Circumstances.”
Rev. Eric Huffman, lead pastor at The Story Houston, St. Luke’s congregation that focuses on inspiring non-religious Houstonians to play their part in the story of God’s love in Jesus Christ, is now a published author! Forty Days of Doubt is a series of devotionals that addresses those obstacles that stand in the way of belief for many people. Take a look at the book right here.
Sunday, December 23
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of true love. You have loved us unconditionally to the point of sending your Son to die on a cross so that we might be saved from our sin. Jesus lived his life to model your love for us. We pray that you would open our hearts and fill them with your great love so that it overflows into our thoughts, our words, and our actions. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Monday, December 24 – Christmas Eve
God of light and life, we’ve waited for you for so long. Come and be born again in our hearts. Make us like shepherds who guard you, likewise men who bring you gifts, like angels who announce you, and like Mary who treasures you. Amen! -Prayer by Rev. David Horton
Tuesday, December 25 – Christmas Day
O God, We prayed that you would come down and in your mighty power put the world right again. Instead, you came as a helpless infant, humbling yourself, and showed us that the ultimate power is the power of love. We join all the world in praising you for being love made flesh and commit ourselves to living the ways of your kingdom, where love reigns. Amen. -Prayer by Dr. Tom Pace
Wednesday, December 26
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of Jesus. We thank you that you love us enough to bring Heaven down to earth. We pray that you would fill our hearts with the love of Jesus so that we live every day like Christmas. Amen.
Thursday, December 27
Lord, we thank you for the gift of truth. We thank you that Jesus came as the ultimate truth that sets us free. We thank you also for our friends and family who love us enough to speak the truth to us in Christian love. We pray that you would be at work in us and guide us to always seek the truth in love with grace. Amen.
Friday, December 28
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of fortitude. Thank you, God, for giving us a strength deep down inside of us that we can use in times of adversity, trials, or temptation. Thank you for giving us the emotional and mental strength to persevere during hard times. We pray that when we need it, you would help us to find your great strength inside of us. Amen.
Saturday, December 29
God, we thank you for the gift of hope. We thank you that you have given us eternal hope through Christ Jesus to sustain us through the trials of life. We pray that you help us to always focus on the great hope that you have given us and to share your hope with others who need to hear it. Help us to speak life into others. Amen.