We pray. We study the Bible. We make friends. We tell our stories. We give ourselves away in generosity and service.
A PERSONAL PRAYER
I get along with most people. You know that, God. I like most folks, and I try to treat people well, with love and care, most of the time. Or so I like to think. I think I “pursue the things that make for peace.” (Romans 14:19) But now a conflict has arisen, and I am not sure what to do about it. I have tried to just ignore it, manage my life around it. But it continues to pop up, and it is getting bigger and more destructive every time. And I really think I did what is right, and that I am right! I need some help!
God, I get tired of feeling angry, growing so weary of the constant feuding around me in the media and in our country and in the world—even in the church, God. It saps my energy and drains my motivation. And it reminds me of how broken I am, and we are as a people. This conflict is no different from all the rest of them—just another symptom of sin at work in the world.
Forgive me God for my part in the problem, and change my focus from the speck in my neighbor’s eye to the log in my own. Show me how to really pursue the things that make for peace in my own life and circle. Remind me that with your sacrifice, you restored our relationship—yours and mine, and made peace with me. Give me the strength to be willing to sacrifice in my other relationships for the sake of peace. Somehow, I need to treat others as you have treated me. Teach me how to speak the truth only in love. And remind me that real peace is something only you can bring about. I just want to be a part of it.
In the name of the Prince of Peace, I pray.
KEY VERSE FOR THE WEEK
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. – John 14:27 Read both Scripture passages for this Sunday’s message here: John 14:25-27, Isaiah 11:6-9.
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION
Where might you be a catalyst for peace this Christmas season? What do you think needs to change at your core for you to regift peace to others? What is the most difficult part of peacemaking for you?
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
This Sunday, we will celebrate the ministry of Sally Matthews, St. Luke’s Executive Director of Finance and Administration, in a reception in the Fellowship Hall immediately after the 11 a.m. traditional worship service. Sally is retiring as of the end of December after 29 years of ministry at St. Luke’s. I hope you will join us as we thank her for her wonderful service to St. Luke’s!
This week, we continue our Advent series on Regifting Christmas. Some of you have sent me wonderful “regifting stories.” Some are funny. Others are sentimental. Keep them coming! This week, we will talk about regifting peace, in a message entitled The Paper Crane.
I hope you received your advent mailer and devotional guide. If you did not, you can pick one up at the church, download it from the website here or give us a call, and we will send it. It has prayers and activities for each day, devotionals for each week, a list of activities for the Advent season, and important information about our Christmas offering for 2016.
This week, don’t miss:
· Conspirare Christmas tonight (Friday, December 2) at 7:30 p.m.
· March to the Manger this Sunday morning, December 4 for our 2-5th grade Sunday Schoolers (bring unwrapped toys for CCSC to Sunday School),
· Friends at Home Poinsettia Delivery (pick up a poinsettia after church and deliver it to homebound)
· It’s a Wonderful Life at 2:30 p.m. this Sunday afternoon, December 4, in the Rotunda
· United Methodist Women’s Advent Spiritual Growth service Tuesday morning, December 6 at 10:30 a.m. in the Chapel
· Service of Prayer and Healing on Wednesday night, December 7 at 6 p.m. in the Chapel.
Sunday, December 4
Jesus, we are so grateful for the gift of Your abiding presence and peace. This is especially true during this season filled with busy preparations, over-commitments and expectation-induced anxiety. Keep us mindful of Your gift and give us grace to share it as freely as we’ve received. Amen.
Monday, December 5
Gracious and loving God, we offer thanksgiving for the gift of salvation through your son, Jesus Christ. You have given us the ultimate gift in eternal life, so let us go forth and share the Good News with all whom we meet. Shape us to be a living example of your peace and love, and guide us to give testimony to your presence in our lives. Amen.
Breath or centering prayers are a way to move toward “praying without ceasing.” Some people pray one line while inhaling and another while exhaling. Try praying this throughout the day: Come, Lord Jesus. Feel free to create your own, using any source that inspires you and helps you draw near to God.
Tuesday, December 6
Guide and help us to maintain our inner light so that it can shine through our armor and can reach out to and be shared with others. Let there be peace from sharing this light, especially in the secular world we live in, and help us to build relationships and overcome conflicts among a varied people. And, let us always remember that this light pleases the Prince of Peace, our savior and leader above all leaders here on earth. Amen. —Prayer by Amanda Kirkham
Go for a moon and stars walk. Ask God to remind you that He is the creator of all of the stars and all of the souls.
Wednesday, December 7
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the incredible joy that surrounds this season. We pray that we will be drawn to the power of Your endless grace. Although we become entangled by the struggles of our own vulnerability, we pray that You will fill us with the hopeful anticipation of your infinite strength. Lord, help us to know that Your reassuring arms are always around us to sustain us through any circumstances that we may encounter. We ask that You prepare our hearts and remove the fears that hinder our ability to feel the joy and amazing love that You offer to us as a promise. And, we pray that we ca n reveal Your love to others and show them the true meaning of this season. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. —Prayer by Mark Hawkins
Do a kind act anonymously today. If you’re caught, do another one.
Thursday, December 8
Dear God, Let us learn to set aside our differences. Let us embrace each other and not take up arms. Lord, help the world to know your love so that we may realize that in heaven we are all equal. And Lord, help us to live lives of peace. Amen. —Prayer by William Pyper McKay, 9th Grade
Advent is a time of contemplation and waiting—challenge yourself (and your family) to take three minutes of silence today. If you are able, practice this daily for a more peaceful season.
Friday, December 9
Heavenly Father, at a time when the world is full of darkness and in desperate need of light, I take refuge in John 1:4: “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.” I pray for the light of all people to shine brightly and overcome individual and collective darkness. Lord, help me to live a life that will be a source of light to those who know neither His life nor light. Amen. —Prayer by Neil Stovall
Take an unlit candle into a dark room. Light the wick, and notice that in a dark place, even a small light will pierce the darkness. Think about being a light in the world throughout your day.
Saturday, December 10
Heavenly Father, You have blessed each of us with so much. Christ teaches us to be peaceful, kind, considerate and generous, and to share our blessings with others. We know that through You we can accomplish so much more than we could ever imagine. Help us to be bold to invite others to be a part of our St. Luke’s family so that they might experience the love and forgiveness that comes with knowing You. In Christ, Amen. —Prayer by Mark Kidd
Find one thing on your to-do list that can wait until tomorrow. With the extra time, regift Peace by sharing a cup of coffee with a friend who is experiencing anxiety or stress.