A PERSONAL PRAYER
Yep, I like my life just the way it is. Can’t I just go on like this? Like an old familiar car, or a chair that fits me just right, I like it just fine.
And yet, I know that nothing can remain the same. Everything changes. The familiar gives way to the unfamiliar, and by the time that new thing is familiar, something else is upon us. It seems the only constant is change itself. God, sometimes the change is so hard to deal with.
If I am honest, even though my life is wonderful, there is something nagging in me that makes me long for change, that leads me to ask, “Can it be better? Is this as good as it can get? Is this the way you created me to live?” If I am not growing, I am dying. And you are not about dying.
O God, when you show up, and I let you into my heart, I have learned that things begin to change. I confess that I often resist that change. I know that you love me enough to meet me where I am, and love me too much to let me stay here. So teach me to let go of “what is” so that I can embrace “what is to be.” Yes, I know changing isn’t always pleasant, and that your agenda isn’t my happiness, but rather my holiness. So show me how to change, to grow, to be transformed by your love.
Things are going to be different, O God. I am going to be different. I am expecting it.
In the name of Jesus, I pray.
KEY VERSE FOR THE WEEK
He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. –Luke 1:16
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION AND REFLECTION
What truth about your heart and life is God revealing? On a scale of one to ten, how coachable are you? Do you long for God’s ordinances?
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
Advent and Christmas Events and Schedule
Everything Advent and Christmas is right here, and there is a lot going on before we get to Christmas eve. Let me remind you that on Christmas Eve, we will have an abbreviated schedule in the morning, with traditional morning services at 11:00 a.m. only on Westheimer and Gethsemane campuses. The Story has 8:30 a.m. carol singing and one morning service at 11:15 a.m. These morning services will be Christmas Eve services, with the same message as the services in the afternoon and evening. Those service times are right here.
Advent Sermon Series
During these weeks leading up to Christmas, we are talking together about what to expect when the Christ Child shows up in the world, and in our lives. Do you expect this God made flesh to arrive and say to you, “Hey, you are doing great. Keep up the good work!” Or will he say “Hey, what in the world are you thinking? Get it together!” I don’t know what is going to be different, but I do know this: some things are going to change. This week, we will talk about change, and our resistance to it. Come and join us!
Check out this video about our “Remember the Poor at Christmas” effort with our Christmas offering supporting the Christian Community Service Center.
You need to know about the great work being done by CCSC to provide basic needs to those dealing with material poverty: food, clothing, rental and utility assistance, job training, and services for children. So check out this short video about CCSC’s work. We have a goal to raise at least $500,000 to help CCSC move to the next level of ministry as we look to replace our facility there and help more people with these basic needs. St. Paul says in Galatians, when speaking about the apostles in Jerusalem, “they asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.” (Galatians 2:10) I hope you will be generous and remember the poor as part of our Christmas offering. You can make your contribution here.
Sunday, December 10
God, thank you for creating in me a new life in your image so that I may be free of my sin. Guide me into becoming more and more the person that you are calling me to be, and help me to love others the way that you do. When I do not love others around me that well, create in me a new heart, and use me to show your sacrificial love to them. Thanks for all that you do in and through me, Amen. -Prayer by Rev. Thomas Harper
Monday, December 11
Dear Lord, it is so easy for us to be influenced by our surroundings amid the hustle of the holidays…we are surrounded! Help us to stay grounded by our faith and focused on a desire to be changed into the person you always intended. Protect us from adopting an outward appearance just to blend in; help us to constantly witness your loving spirit in all circumstances. We pray, we study scripture, we go through all the motions; yet during the holidays, we tend to quickly fall into a pattern of glitzy celebrations – often failing to celebrate the importance of your precious gift. Open our hearts and minds in fresh ways that we might experience and appreciate anew the powerful significance of the gift of the Christ Child. In His name we pray, Amen.
Tuesday, December 12
Compassionate Father, we ask for inside-out transformation. We know that materiality, success, and social expectations consume us and our time. We look to this Advent full of eager expectation. We ask you to help us to make time for prayer so that our hearts are prepared for Christmas. Amen.
Wednesday, December 13
Almighty Father, we pray for the transformation that happens inside out when the Holy Spirit takes us over. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Thursday, December 14
Creating God, from the beginning, you created us in your image, and it was very good, yet we so easily fall into the temptation of sin. Thank you for the gift of our Savior who transforms our hearts and minds. Amen.
Friday, December 15
Dear Heavenly Father, we come to you with thanksgiving for sending your Son into the world to witness to your transforming love. Help us to open our hearts and move us into the place that you want us to be. Keep us close as you transform the world by your love and power through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Saturday, December 16
Heavenly Father, at every turn of the path, we are given many opportunities to change and grow. We are given choices daily; please guide us to feel your presence when we are faced with that “fork in the road” on our faith journey. We seek your counsel to feel we are led by the Holy Spirit. However, you know how often we stumble and fall like children on a playground. Lift us up and aim us in the right direction to become that person whom you need us to be – that person who you always intended us to become. Open our hearts, heads and hands to do thy will. In Christ’s name, Amen.
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