It is the greatest joy in the world to be a parent. Looking back, I remember mostly good times when our kids were smaller, speckled with a few hard ones. I have regrets about how I parented, and I can openly confess those to you now. I talked about faith at church but didn’t speak much about it at home. I either withdrew from conflict or screamed and yelled. I taught my kids virtually nothing about money, or sex, or drugs and alcohol, or any of those important things they should know about. And God, most of all, I know that there were so many times I was just struggling to get by, to stay afloat in my own life, that I was not such a good witness to them. I do know that my children still carry scars, if not open wounds, from the way I helped to shape them. For that, I plead for forgiveness. But I also think they always knew they were loved, that they had a place to belong no matter what.

And yet, even with my shortcomings, you worked in their lives, that they became amazing people. You sent your marvelous Holy Spirit into their home, and formed them each individually as your children. Thank you, God, for that. Help me to realize that they belonged to you and never really belonged to me – and that your love can shape them even more than mine.

I know my days of parenting are not over. My adult children still need to know they are loved. And there is still time to redeem mistakes I have made. And there are all sorts of children all around me in my church, boys and girls in whom I can invest and care about. Show me how to more fully love all our children, and be a witness to them of a loving Father.

God, today I pray for parents everywhere. Help them to know they too are loved by you, so that they have love they can pass on to their own children.

I pray in the name of Christ, Amen.

This week, we begin a new sermon series, “Better Parents, Better People.” Many years ago, when our kids were small, my mother said to me “You and Dee work too hard at being parents. Good parenting is just an outgrowth of good living.” I am not sure I completely understood that then, and I know I didn’t follow it, but I think she is right. The key to good parenting is good living. Moreover, as members of a church, all of us are mothers and fathers to the children in our care. How we live will shape their understanding of who Jesus is. Our new sermon series will focus on how our own approaches to life and to relationships help to form both our own children and the children and young people in our church family. We begin this week with “The Thing About the Oxygen Mask.”

Our small group launch is this Monday night, February 10, from 7:00-8:30 in the Fellowship Hall. I really do believe that joining a small group and building those kind of intimate relationships in the church can be the most transformative part of your church experience. It helps if you register here ahead of time (but if you don’t, just show up!).

Our 2019 impact report is out for your review. What did God do through St. Luke’s in 2019, because of your investment of time, money, and prayers? These booklets are at the Connection Center and other places around the church, or you can just download it here.

Did you miss the message, “Let it Go!” on February 2? Watch it here!

Sunday, February 9
Dear God, grant me the discipline to spend time with you in prayer every day. Help me to remember the blessing of quiet time with you and the peace that comes from giving you my worries. Show me how to be still and listen for your voice. Thank you, Lord, for being with me and listening to my requests. In the name of the one who taught us to pray, Amen.

Monday, February 10
Heavenly Father, thank you for our incredible church. We know the pastoral and lay leadership work tirelessly for our congregation. We appreciate the church staff who work behind the scenes to make our Sunday mornings run so smoothly. Thank you for providing us with this wonderful community. Amen.

Tuesday, February 11
Thank you God for helping us focus on You and not the world around us, worshiping You freely and whole-heartedly at any time. Hear us as we praise You and express our joy for all You provide. Amen.

Wednesday, February 12
Dear Father, we remember “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:22-23) What a joyful way to start each day, led by Your light and wrapped in Your love. Amen.

Thursday, February 13
Heavenly Father, we pray for all of our active-duty military servicemen and women. We pray that you would protect them from harm while they are serving and that you would guide them and encourage them while they are away from their families. Please give them your strength and your peace. In the name of the one who served us, Amen.

Friday, February 14 – Valentine’s Day
Father God, on this Valentine’s Day, we thank you for the many ways you have given us the capacity to love others. As we celebrate love, we pray that we would be reminded of our first and greatest love that we have in you, our creator. Enable us to love you more so that we may love those around us even better than we do now. Be with those who long for love today and help them to find your peace through friends and family around them. In the name of the one who is perfecting love within us, Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen. -Prayer by Rev. Thomas Harper

Saturday, February 15
Dear Loving and Merciful God, we lift up all of the injustices of our world. Forgive us, Lord, for not speaking up against the injustices we witness to which we turn a blind eye. Give us a heart for justice and compassion for all of our neighbors. Amen.