The style of jack-o-lanterns which my children carve has changed through the years. They are considerably more elaborate now. Yet, they serve the same purpose. They are a delightful and fun activity. They give the kids a sense of accomplishment as they are displayed on our porch. They lend a semi-scary touch to the trick or treating scene. They are a tradition.
The way we relate to one another changes as we grow, but we are still called to the same purpose. We are still called to love one another as Jesus loves us. We add more complex ways of reaching out and helping others. We may better understand how what we do helps others. And, we remain deeply loving.
Loving God, we thank you for walking with us in all stages of our lives. We thank you for your patience with us. We thank you for teaching us and encouraging us to grow. Please nudge us in the directions that challenge us to become the persons you want us to be. Amen.
It is not by any means unusual to find yourself stressed because you don't get enough sleep or you are working multiple jobs. For me, the first quarter grades are almost due. But no matter how stressed I am during the day, it always feels great to come home and enjoy a home cooked meal with my family. If you don't have enough time to eat dinner as a family, or to pray at night, you don't have enough time. Remember to set aside time for God, for extra sleep, for relaxation. (That may help you regain sanity!)
Posted by Towson United Methodist Church at 5:30 AM
You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all – irrespective of how we got here – in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you. Fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day – a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home. Ephesians 2:19 -22. The Message.
Our dog is a sweet little thing and mostly a well mannered dog. Still, he is a dog, and does doggie stuff like trying to eat disgusting whatever from the front yard or stealing part of a slice of cake we accidentally left at his level. He reminds me of my children when they were toddlers: spurts of energy followed by naps and plenty of exploring to see what interesting things they could find. My children grew up and left toddlerhood, but our dog will not. As he ages, he will probably slow down and nap more, but he will never grow in wisdom.
In my faith journey, I hope and pray that I will not be like my dog: never growing up. I pray that I will continue to grow in understanding and love. May God grant me all that is necessary for growing into the person God created me to be, a mature disciple of Christ.
Glorious and merciful Holy Spirit, please work within me that I may become who you would have me be so that I do what you would have me do. Amen.
Scripture tells us that we are to lay our petitions before God, and so I do, not with the hope that I may change God's mind about something or get God to follow my wishes, but just so I may lay my earnest desires in that holiest of places. If I pray for someone in difficult circumstances, I pray not so much for a favorable outcome--God knows I want that--but that that person may have strength to endure, hope, and comfort.
Why do you pray, and what do you pray for?
I remember when I first graduated from high school. I felt so adult. I worked, made decisions, bought my first and very used car. As I think back on those years, I realize how little I knew, how little I had experienced. How little we know about our world, no matter how many years we have lived! I am astounded by the enormity of God, by how much God knows and sustains. Little me is secure in the arms of God, even if I cannot see that now.
Almighty God, I am awed by your power and majesty. You create and sustain all things. Grant that I may rest confidently on you, my Rock and my Foundation. In the name of Jesus Christ the Lord, Amen.
Merciful God, we read in the news of so many things which cause pain and fear. We don't understand how humans could do such things to other humans. But, you know because you experienced cruelty and violence for yourself. You experience it again with us. Help us to forgive as you do. Help us to return anger with love and to work for peace. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
My fingers have been cold most of the day. That makes is more difficult for me to do almost anything else: grip things, type, ... . It reminds me of the verses from 1 Corinthians about Christ's body!
"If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it. You are the body of Christ and parts of each other." 1 Corinthians 12: 26-27
You are generous and loving. Please be merciful and forgive me when I forget how much the well being of others is linked to my own well being. Please help me to remember that helping others is the key to my own abundant life. In the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord, Amen.
Our church supports many missions and ministries which strive to help, both to alleviate immediate need and also to encourage long term improvement. John Wesley taught us to do good to all people as much as we can and to do no harm. The questions arise when we aren't sure what is good and what is harmful. Even tons of research and consulting experts can leave us with questions. When are we enabling and when are we really helping? I believe that is when we leave our doubts with God. We should be vigilant in order to be good stewards with our ministries, but we should also be willing to take some risks. We pray for God to bless our efforts and our funds and we trust.
In this day of new and better and always changing, we can lose sight of the value of what is "tried and true". I was sitting and waiting yesterday and happened to glance at a magazine which had an article about new and improved grilled cheese sandwiches. What is wrong with the old and delicious grilled cheese sandwiches? I wouldn't eat them every day, but once in a while, I enjoy a gooey, buttery sandwich.
Lord, you are the same yesterday, today, and forever, yet you are always creating and re-creating. Help me to appreciate the goodness of the world and people around me. Help me to be open to what is new and different. Guide me to be led by you and not to be lured into complacency in the safe and familiar or into dissatisfaction with anything not new. In Jesus' name, Amen.
I find prayer beads useful in my prayer life. They help me to focus as I pray, lessening distractions as I concentrate on the prayer for each bead. Sometimes, I simply hold the entire set in my hand as I pray. I am reminded of prayers I have prayed previously using the beads. For others, the beads may be a distraction, leading their minds from Christ to the beads themselves. Our conversation with God is most important, not the specific way to hold that conversation.
Gracious and Holy Lord, help me to concentrate on you and your will for my life. Help me to know what you would have me be and do in this moment. May your Spirit open my heart to love you more and to love those whom you place in my life. In the name of Christ, my Lord, Amen.
I am a fan of Korean drama, especially that which deals with personal relationships. There is a word they use in Korean, that is actually an English word, "fighting." It is not a word they use to hit with fists, or swing kick, or seek revenge. It is always said with arm gestures, hands raised up to about shoulder height in determination, and a smile on the speaker's face. It is said after a friend has come for a heart-to-heart talk, a focus has been discovered, and a goal has been set for the person who has come worried and confused. The listener encourages the friend by repeating the goal, letting them know with the gesture, "I am with you, I am behind you, go for it!" The listener ends with a smile, and says,"fighting!"
When I pray, I go heart-to-heart with God. She is the listener, I am the one who is worried and confused. I am still missing the part of finding the focus and goal, but I'm not missing the part of the encouragement. In fact, at times, I feel the push behind me, when I see no one there, but God is saying, "fighting!"
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1
What a strange psalm! It consists of twenty-six verses, and twenty six times that line cited above is repeated—at the end of each verse. The first line of each describes something about God, or about our world, or about our experience of it. But the last line is almost a drumbeat reminder that God’s love never let’s go of us or abandons us.
I’m not at great peace first thing in the morning when I first wake up. I’m suddenly restless in thinking of my schedule that day. But as I get up and become aware that this is another day God is granting me, my anxiety eases; God’s love surrounds me and that makes all the difference in the world.
What we need most is not a clear agenda for each day, or the drive and energy to get through our schedule—that’s secondary. What is primary is knowing the steadfast love of God that endures forever; in that is our peace.
Prayer: O God, enable us to know the presence of your love in each and every day of our life journey. Amen
Gracious Lord, when the world seems to bear in upon me, grant me your freeing grace. When it seems that everyone I know wants me to DO something, help me to rest in your presence. When I am so tired, help me to take your yoke upon myself. Help me to turn to you for each day's priorities. In the name of the Good Shepherd, Amen.