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.
A PERSONAL PRAYER
God of us all,
I feel like there is fracturing all around me. We are pulling apart, separating into camps,
• unable to see any truth or goodness in people with whom we disagree,
• unwilling to give certain others the benefit of the doubt,
• quickly sizing up the color of the jersey of people we meet,
• speaking much but listening little,
• failing to see others as part of the same family as we are.
God, I know this way of living is a manifestation of our sin. I remember that your son prayed that we might be one, as you and he are one, and I believe he meant all of us. And yet, we seem unable or unwilling to move beyond this place.
Of course, there are certain things that are wrong and others that are right, and you ask us to be a witness to the values and way of life your son Jesus embodies. But you tell us to look first at the log in our own eyes rather than the speck in our brother’s. And perhaps more importantly, your word reminds us first and foremost that the person whose eye we are examining is indeed our brother after all.
God, we need your Holy Spirit to unite us. I pray that you would show me how to treat those with whom I disagree with respect and honor. I pray that you would give me humility, so that I am able to listen and learn from those with a different perspective. I pray that you would give me gentleness, to speak the truth, as I understand it, in love. I want to be a bridge builder. Show me how.
In the name of Jesus, who was the bridge between you and us, I pray… Amen
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
Our new sermon series, “Bridges,” focuses on how to address the fractures in our culture. For the next three weeks, the people of St. Luke’s will consider in our Sunday messages some of the chasms that separate us from others, and how to build bridges across them. This Sunday, August 19, we will talk about building bridges across opinions, seeking ways to bridge the “red-blue divide.” Next week, August 26, we will discuss bridges across religions, as we consider the proper approach to people of different faith traditions. That Sunday, you will also have the opportunity to hear an interfaith panel discuss living in our multi-faith culture during the Sunday school hour at 10:00 in the Activity Center. More information is here. And finally, on September 2, we will talk about building bridges across race and culture, and I will be privileged to introduce to you Rev. Dr. Maria Dixon-Hall, a marvelous preacher I heard speak about this challenge last year. These is such an important issue in our current time, and I challenge you to make sure you are present for all three of these important messages.
The Texas Annual Conference is sponsoring Table Talks with Bishop Scott Jones, conversations on “The Way Forward,” to learn more about the special called session of the United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis in February. The conference has been called to deal with issues around human sexuality, most particularly gay marriage and ordination of gay men and women. If you would like to attend one of the talks, or simply watch via livestream, there is information here.
Those of you with students in grades 6-12 will want to be a part of Student Ministries “Vision Morning” next Sunday, August 26, from 9:45 until 11:00 in the Student Ministries building. It’s an open house, and a great way to meet the Student Ministry staff and leaders, and to find out all the major activities coming for the upcoming year.
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 – Disciple, Epic of Eden, What’s So Amazing About Grace. You can sign up on the groupfinder on our website or visit the Connection Center between services.
Don’t miss the Pure Sound youth choir’s annual Babes on Broadway musical revue in the Rotunda this weekend. These young people will amaze you. Check out more information here.
Sunday, August 19
Dear God, help me be attentive to words from you today. Let me listen carefully. Let me pay attention to Scripture, hear clearly the sermon, and feel you tugging at my heart and whispering to me. Do not let me fail to hear you, but let me grow in my knowledge of you and grow in my faith. Amen.
Monday, August 20
Dear Heavenly Father, as this new day you have made is mine, let me rejoice and be glad in it. Remove stress by letting me see the joys in the world around me today. Your gifts are right in front of me. Let me see all the reasons I have to rejoice and be glad every day. Amen.
Tuesday, August 21
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for letting us be your children forever. You loved us before we were born and gave us a way to belong to you through your son Jesus and our faith in him. We all became brothers and sisters in Christ through the sacrifice of your son. Thank you for the love and peace we receive. Amen.
Wednesday, August 22
Dear Lord, as you speak to us, God, let us not be just a hearer of your word, but guide us to be a doer. Put our compassion into action for those who need help. Let us not only show empathy but follow it up with aid. Guide us, Lord. Amen.
Thursday, August 23
Most gracious Heavenly Father, it is easy to become discouraged when good intentions lead to pain. Help us to remember even the smallest kindness can show your love in ways that help others. Help us put love into action in our relationship with others and also with you. Amen.
Friday, August 24
Dear God, we know that you have said that the greatest among us will be servants to others. This is hard for us to do because we don’t want to be forgotten or last. Help us to become more like your son by putting others first. Amen.
Saturday, August 25
Dear God, when we face situations that challenge us, help us to remember that we can rely on you and that you are always with us. Strengthen us as only you can. Let us feel you working in our lives and giving us hope. Thank you for your many blessings. Amen.