Gracious and Loving God,

Today, I am filled with joy. I am so grateful that on Sunday morning, you finally healed my mom, taking her to be in your presence. Her confusion and anxiety are replaced by perfect peace, her pain and isolation have now disappeared. Before, she saw you only through a glass dimly. Now she sees you face to face. She has fought the good fight. She has finished the race and received the crown of righteousness you have for her. How can one be sad, grieve, and be joyous all at the same time? I don’t know how it happens, but that is what is in my heart. So it is with great joy that I thank you, God, for my mother. I thank you especially for her determination, her tenacity, her generosity, her wit, her work ethic. I thank you that she taught us to live life as it comes and make the very best of it. And I thank you, most of all, for her love.

God, as we begin the new year, I have made a decision to be joyful, even in these moments of sadness and loss. When I am anxious or fearful, I will remember how good you have been to me and provided all I have ever needed. When I am lonely, I will rejoice in your presence in my life no matter what happens. When I am distracted by too many “things of consequence,” I will choose to enjoy the truly important things, like a conversation with a friend or the laughter of a child. When I am resentful, I will let go of my anger and forgive others just as you have forgiven me, experiencing the joy and freedom of release. When I am full of self-pity, I will seek out the joy of giving of myself to someone else. God, teach me the discipline of rejoicing each and every day. God, I know I can’t do any of this without you, so I pray, Holy Spirit, that you would fill me up so that I overflow with your joy. Amen.


Two important things I am anxious to share with you to start off the new year:

• First, we begin 2020 with “Forty Days of Joy.” Perhaps you picked up a Forty Days of Joy journal on Christmas Eve, or you can read the daily devotionals and activities on St. Luke’s App. (Download the St. Luke’s App.- https://subsplash.com/stlukesunitedmethodistchurchtx/app) These begin on January 1, so don’t miss it! Our first sermon series of the year is “Forty Days of Joy” as well, and the message this week, January 5, is “Remember and Rejoice.” It is a time for New Year’s resolutions, so let’s make 2020 a year where we choose joy every day (even those really difficult ones).

• Second, 2020 is the 75th Birthday of St. Luke’s! Watch for a special display this week, and a special invitation in the mail next week for a year full of JOYous celebration! This will be a year of remembering, rejoicing and leaning forward into what God has next for us.

There is still time to make a gift to St. Luke’s 2019 Christmas Offering, benefitting Amazing Place, a ministry that supports people with mild to moderate dementia and their caregivers. We hope to raise $500,000 to support Amazing Place’s campaign to expand to a second location and broaden its outreach programs in the community. The prophet Isaiah says “Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hand.” (Isaiah 49:15-16) Christmas is a time to remember those most vulnerable around us, and often we focus only on children. We want to be God’s agents in helping those who struggle with the isolation of dementia to know they are not forgotten. You can find out more or make a gift or pledge here.

If you have not had the opportunity to make a commitment to our “Giving with Gratitude” generosity campaign to support the ministries of St. Luke’s for 2020, you can do so here.

Did you miss the message, “A Saved Life,” on December 22? Watch it here. Or did you miss December 29, watch the message “Mine Eyes Have Seen Salvation” here.

Tuesday, December 31
God, as we come to the end of another year and another decade, we reflect on the past with gratitude. We thank you for the blessings that make our lives easier, the difficult times that you use to grow us, and for being with us through it all. As we look forward to the next year and the next decade, we pray that your continued guidance in our lives will direct our paths to where you have called us and that we will be blessed along the way. Amen.

Wednesday, January 1 – New Year’s Day
God of love, you chose to come into our world to be with us. I pray that you would come into my life to always be with me and that all of us would learn how to always be with you. Amen.

Thursday, January 2
Most Gracious Heavenly Father, I am your beloved child and you love me unconditionally. Fill me with hope, expectations, and praise. Let me be open to new experiences knowing you will be with me through all of them. Thank you for freeing me to celebrate life and spread your love to all. Amen.

Friday, January 3
Heavenly Father, today we thank you for all of the ways that you bless us each day. Thank you for always working in our lives to bring about good things. Thank you for unexpected blessings. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, January 4
Gracious God, we pray for those who are homeless today. Please guide their steps to people who can help them find a place to live. Please remove any barriers that keep them from having proper shelter. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, January 5
Heavenly Father, as we make new resolutions and set goals for this year, guide us to recommit ourselves to the Five Inside Out Habits of St. Luke’s – We pray, We study the Bible and worship, We make friends, We tell our stories, and We give ourselves away in generosity and service. Grow us in new ways as we practice these habits. Amen.

Monday, January 6
Dear God, even when it is hard to pray, help us to remember that you told us, “In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:4-9) Give me faith to know that even when words do not come easily, you will hear and understand. Thank you for hearing all we lift up to you. Amen.

Tuesday, January 7
Dear Heavenly Father, give us hope and courage to trust in you to guide us down the path of our life. Grow our faith to let us be open to new possibilities and help us to see the signs of your presence and goodness. Let us remember your faithfulness. Amen.

Wednesday, January 8
Heavenly Father, we pray for those who are sick and hospitalized. We pray that you would ease their suffering and provide healing for them. Restore them to good health and bless them in miraculous ways this year. Amen.

Thursday, January 9
Loving God, as we go through our day today, open our eyes to see the unmet needs of others and open our hearts to be compassionately moved into action. Help us to infuse your love into all that we do. Amen.

Friday, January 10
Dear God, thank you for always being with us as we face our challenges, big and small. How wonderful to be able to share our worries and concerns with you and know you want to be in relationship with us through all the days of our lives. Amen.

Saturday, January 11
Lord of all, we confess that we oftentimes get caught up in our own daily lives forgetting that there are many people in this world who have basic needs that are unmet. We pray for those who are in need of food, shelter, clothes, and a peaceful, safe place to live. Open our eyes to new opportunities to make a positive difference in their lives. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.