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
Times are good, now, in my life. Thank you for that, for the many blessings that come my way, the good circumstances in which I find myself. I confess that these good times lead to a certain complacency on my part. There isn’t so much to learn from good times. I don’t grow. I don’t change. I see little reason to do anything any differently. I know things could be still better if I behaved differently, but the motivation just isn’t there. Most importantly, I know I could be used by you in more powerful ways for your kingdom if I gave myself more fully to you, but I just don’t find myself taking those steps forward.
God, you know there have been some bad times too. Times when things haven’t gone as well, when circumstances seemed to conspire against me. Sometimes, it hasn’t been my fault. But sometimes, the difficulties are the consequences of my own poor decisions. My mistakes have caught up with me, and I have reaped that which I have sown. There have been times it seemed my repentance came too late. And yet, as painful as those consequences were, those bad times changed me. Things that once seemed important began to fade away, and I realized how upside-down were my priorities. The challenges and pain drove me to my knees, and I discovered once again my complete dependence on you. God, teach me to “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” (Romans 5:3-4) Give me the strength to face the difficult consequences of my sin, knowing that your love for me is unwavering, even when I must live with the pain of my own choices. When the worst thing that could happen actually happens, remind me that you are still right there. Direct me with your Holy Spirit when I am stumbling forward in the darkness, and fill me with that same Spirit that I might give you glory when the sun shines bright.
In the name of Christ, who suffered for us, and suffers with us, Amen.
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
Lenten Sermon Series and Study: These Bones Shall Live!
This week, we continue in week five of our series on Ezekiel, and the story of the exiles in Babylon reaches its climax with the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. What do we do when the world falls apart around us? How do we deal with the consequences of the mistakes we have made? Come and join us Sunday in this important Lenten conversation.
Invictus, by Howard Goodall
Next Sunday night, March 25, St. Luke’s Chancel Choir is presenting the world premiere of Invictus, by Howard Goodall, a “passion” in music, reflecting on the story of Jesus’ suffering and the cross in our world. St. Luke’s Friends of Music commissioned this work with funds from special gifts, and we are so privileged to have Mr. Goodall with us to conduct our choir and orchestra in the presentation. Goodall, from Great Britain, is an award-winning composer of choral music, stage musicals, film and TV scores. You can find more information here.
Next Sunday is our Palm Sunday Family Picnic and Easter Egg Hunt, beginning at 11:00. This year we have also added a Children’s Good Friday service at 7:00 on the third floor of the Johnson building, happening simultaneously with our Good Friday Tenebrae service in the sanctuary. The children’s service addresses the cross in a developmentally appropriate way for children Kindergarten through grade 5. (Childcare will be available for children ages 2-preK)
Check out all the other Holy Week events this year, and plan your Easter Sunday schedule. You can find it on the events tab of St. Luke’s new app (search St Lukes UMC Houston) or online at https://www.stlukesmethodist.org/easter/. You might check out the Lenten Path on the south lawn of the church at the purple bell banners on the lampposts. Our Easter Offering this year is Plant With Purpose, an organization that is doing some really cool things to fight poverty and empower people to provide for themselves around the world. Check it out here.
Sunday, March 18
Oh God, there are so many struggles your children are facing-loss of loved ones, illness, broken hearts, loneliness, unemployment…Help us to realize you are always waiting when we turn to you. Please give us hearts to reach out to others and share your love and support. Remind us that you are the God of hope. Amen. -Prayer by Linda Burch
Monday, March 19
Dear God, We praise you “in the storm.” Thank you for allowing us to experience difficult times. Without those times we cannot grow our faith or our trust in you. Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit “who helps us with our daily problems” ( as promised in Romans 8:26). Bless all who are experiencing hard times with your peace and comfort today. Amen. -Prayer by Analyn Anderson Lee
Tuesday, March 20
Heavenly Father, year after year you have blessed us with your mercy, yet we still worry when times seem tough. Help us to have the faith and vision that you are with us always and will see us through yet another difficult situation. Thank you for leading us to the mountaintop once again. Amen. -Prayer by Carol Mohrman
Wednesday, March 21
Lord, sometimes we seek a place of safety, and sometimes we need to be a place of safety for others. Sometimes we seek healing, and sometimes we need to be healing for others. Sometimes we seek hope, and sometimes we need to be hope for others. In all times, whether seeking safety, healing or hope for others or ourselves, it is your grace and steadfast love that answers. Amen.
Thursday, March 22
Lord, be with those who are struggling with addiction. Help them to face their struggle head on and trust in your grace for freedom. Also, be with their loved ones and provide them hope for a future that is filled with healing and grace. Amen.
Friday, March 23
God, be with those who are still recovering financially after Hurricane Harvey. Provide financial aid for them so that they can get back on their feet and return to normal. In Jesus’ holy name, we pray. Amen.
Saturday, March 24
Loving God, please be with those who have recently lost loved ones. We pray that you would comfort them and provide for them in the absence of their loved one. Heal the pain of their loss, and shower them with your love. Amen.