Our inside-out habits: We pray. We study the Bible. We make friends. We tell our stories. We give ourselves away in generosity and service.
Friends, this Sunday I look forward to introducing you to Dr. Maria Dixon-Hall, preaching in our morning worship services. Dr. Dixon-Hall is an African American United Methodist pastor on the faculty of SMU. I heard Dr. Hall at the meeting of the Texas Annual Conference, speaking about cultural intelligence, and she is a powerful speaker. She was invited by the parents of the students in the SAE fraternity, expelled for singing a racist song on the bus at the University of Oklahoma, to come and meet with those students. As we conclude our series on “building bridges” with a discussion of bridges across race and culture, I want you all to hear her speak. If you are in town, don’t miss it. If you are away, make sure and watch on livestream or catch the podcast.
A PERSONAL PRAYER
God of all people,
I don’t like to think of myself as having any kind of racism or prejudice. And yet, I know that in so many ways, conscious and unconscious, my thoughts and feelings are skewed by race. I have lived a life full of advantage. Time and again, I have been given the benefit of the doubt because of my class and my color, living in a nice neighborhood when my classmates lived on the other side of the tracks. I was provided with relationships with people of influence and educated in fine schools with many supplementary opportunities. I have always lived with both the expectation of and models for following a pathway to success. Moreover, I know that the world I live in was built on a culture and practice of racism, and you remind me in your scripture that the consequences of any sin, including the sin of racism, are visited on the children and children’s children for many generations. (Exodus 34:6-7). Most importantly, O God, you know my heart, and you know the prejudice I carry and rationalize and defend. Forgive me, God.
When I walked into the high school in Sunnyside Place to share a lesson on leadership, the students were almost all black, and there was an uneasy feeling in my stomach whispering to me that I didn’t belong there. The culture gap between us is real, and I don’t know how to negotiate it. Oh, I’m fine for others to come to my world as long as they adapt to my culture. But must I go there? Isn’t my way of thinking/living/talking the right way?
Sigh… ok, God, I know the answer to that. You ventured into my world and my culture, and met me right where I am, just as you are glad to step into the culture of any of us. You loved me, and cared for me and understood me just as I am. Give me the courage to step out of my cloistered world to build a bridge to know someone else. Open me up to step out of my rigid mindset to walk in someone else’s shoes. Help me to build a bridge.
In the name of Christ, I pray…
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
We had an awesome interfaith panel discussing living in our multi-faith culture. If you didn’t get a chance to be there, check it out right here.
NEXT Sunday, September 9, is St. Luke’s Fall Kickoff, and lots of neat stuff is happening, like young people moving up into their new grades and our Contemporary Worship at 8:45 moving into the newly renovated Fellowship Hall, along with an all church celebration and lunch in the Fellowship Hall from 11:00-1:00. Check out more info (and watch a cool video) here. Beginning on September 9, I will be launching a new three week sermon series entitled “Starting with Middle C.” What are the basics on which you build your life? What is the foundation of your family? The world we live in is wild and pulls us in all sorts of directions. Where is your family anchored? The series begins with “Convictions: a Jesus-Centered Life.” Make sure you plan to be present.
The Fall is a great time to recommit to regular Bible Study with others. There are lots of marvelous groups that will meet this fall to study the Bible together. You can sign up on the groupfinder on our website or visit the Connection Center between services.
Sunday, September 2
God, we pray for the students who are going through confirmation. Be with them and their teachers as they grow in their understanding of you. We pray that they would strengthen in their love for you and for others. Amen.
Monday, September 3 – Labor Day
Heavenly Father, we thank you for this day of rest from our labor. We pray that you might renew our strength and help us to return to work with new energy and passion. Help us to serve you wholeheartedly through the work you have called us to do. Please also be with those who are unemployed or underemployed. Please provide for their needs and help them to find ways to grow the gifts and talents that you have given them. Amen.
Tuesday, September 4
Please pray for those who are hurting and lonely. Equip St. Luke’s with the ability to properly minister to them and share your great love to others. Amen.
Wednesday, September 5
Lord, help me to understand that I don’t always understand everything. Help me to listen before I speak, help me to speak encouraging words, and help me to show your love in my actions. Amen.
Thursday, September 6
Father God, be with those who are ill and suffering from depression. Give them your strength, and help them to know that there will be brighter days ahead. Give their doctors the knowledge they need to make a proper diagnoses in each patient. Amen.
Friday, September 7
God, I pray for those who have recently lost loved ones. Be with them as they transition to a new normal. I pray that they would feel your love in the moments when the house feels empty and silent. Amen.
Saturday, September 8
Gracious God, thank you for your unconditional love. Thank you that no matter what, you are always with us. We praise your Holy name. Amen.