A Christmas Eve Prayer

Dear God,

On this Christmas Eve we join your people everywhere thanking you for the blessing of Jesus’ birth. We thank you for the unlimited possibilities for hope, peace, joy, and love that Christ’s entry into the world provides.

We pray for all homeless and hungry people. Help those who have much to give generously to those who have little.
We pray for those living in and near war-torn countries. God, please stop warmongers and show them the error of their thinking. Prick their conscious so they will turn from war and adopt peaceful ways of settling conflict.
We pray for those adversely affected by natural disasters. We pray for those sick in body or mind. We pray for those who are lonely and brokenhearted.
We pray for neglected and abused children. Oh God, please move on their behalf.
We pray for the children shackled with the adult responsibility of raising siblings. Give them wisdom, and in your great mercy grant them the freedom to experience childhood. Send a responsible, caring adult to help them.
We pray for outcasts and underdogs. Comfort them and strengthen their resolve to keep going. Also, remind them that you care and that they have inherent value because you created them in your magnificent image.
We pray for deliverance for those struggling with addiction.

Help us live lives that glorify you by our work ethic and the way we interact with others.
In your mercy hear our prayers and bless us all.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

2017 Advent Season Week 2 – Peace

Dove of peace

 

Yesterday, marked the end of the second week of the Christian Advent Season. Peace was the theme. Songs, Scripture readings, artwork, and meditations highlighted the peace between God and humankind made possible by the life of Christ. The week also used Scripture references to encourage believers to explore ways to experience inner peace and to work to bring about peace with others.

Peace is a core value of Chrisitan living. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus referred to peacemakers as blessed and those who will be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9).

Following are a few Scriptures about peace to use for continued reflection.

• Practice the Golden Rule by behaving toward others as one wants to be treated. (Matthew 7: 12)
• Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the LORD. (Hebrews 12:14).
• For, Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil For, Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it, and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. (1 Peter 3: 10-11)
• Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

Happy Advent and may the peace of Christ envelope you!

Advent week 2 candle

Decency and Democracy Under Attack

It is almost unthinkable that Roy Moore, a candidate campaigning to represent the state of Alabama in the U.S. Senate and who has admitted that as an adult he engaged in relations with minors, has a chance of winning the highly contested Alabama Senate race.
Defenders of Moore’s participation in the race coupled with suggestions that some in the Trump administration colluded with the Russian government to destroy our democracy by influencing the outcome of U.S. elections is frightening and disheartening. The country appears to be sliding rapidly down a moral political slope. Under the Trump administration, on nearly every level imaginable, decency and traditional values are eroding.
There is Donald Trump spewing discord and division instead of unity. In place of upholding Democracy, Trump appears to be trying to turn America into a fascist state. He uses his office to attempt to control what news gets published by attacking the free press. He also uses his office to try and destroy the careers of those who oppose him publicly or who express political views counter to his.
Instead of working to affect the common good, Trump seems bent on making life difficult for working class Americans. His lack of good judgement and integrity are evidenced by  his comparison of those who advocate justice for all to white supremacy advocates, and by his support of Roy Moore’s candidacy.
Moore’s involvement in the Alabama Senate race has nothing to do with the political party on whose ticket he is running and everything to do with a sick old man who should lose the election because Americans care about decency. Roy Moore’s demonstrated behavior:  an old, powerful man who dated teenage girls is every bit as reprehensible as the actions of Warren Jessup’s (former leader of a religious group and convicted rapist).
God, help us and shame on those determined to send a sick man to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate.

2017 Advent Season Week 1 – Hope

Week 1 of the 2017 Christian Advent Season is ending. The theme – Hope – focuses on the  possibilities embodied in the Messiah.  Those possibilities inspire optimism. The Messiah’s arrival:
• encourages and empowers the oppressed;
• critiques oppressors and gives them room for repentance;

• lifts up the least of us;
• delivers from the burden, consequences, and power of sin;
• makes possible reconciliation between humankind and God, their Creator;
• redefines the term “family;”
• challenges the legitimacy of corrupt institutions and systems;
• affirms the value of all humankind;
• promises redemption, regeneration and resurrection of all that is useful and valuable;
• demonstrates godliness- unconditional love, peaceable living, forgiveness, empathy, unselfishness, and generosity.
The previous list highlights why Advent is both festive and somber. It is the celebration of the possibilities that Christ’s birth provides. It also causes believers to bow in reverent humility when they, self included, comprehend the God’s great love for creation. Like the psalmist we are compelled to sing out:

Psalm 8 (New Living Translation)
For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be accompanied by a stringed instrument.
1 O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
Your glory is higher than the heavens.
2 You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, by
silencing your enemies and all who oppose you.
3 When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
the moon and the stars you set in place—
4 what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
human beings that you should care for them?
5 Yet you made them only a little lower than God
and crowned theme with glory and honor.
6  You gave them [responsible for taking care of ] everything you made,
putting all things under their authority—
7 the flocks and the herds and all the wild animals,
8 the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that swims the ocean currents.
9 O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

Footnotes:
a 8: title Hebrew according to the gittith.
b 8:2 Greek version reads to give you praise. Compare Matt 21:16.
c 8:4 Hebrew what is man that you should think of him, / the son of man that you should care for him?
d 8:5a Or Yet you made them only a little lower than the angels; Hebrew reads Yet you made him [i.e., man] a little lower than Elohim.
e 8:5b Hebrew him [i.e., man]; similarly in 8:6.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007.
Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.
All Rights Reserved.

Happy Advent!!!

 

 

First Sunday in Advent 2017, A Morning Prayer

Dear God, glory to your name!

We acknowledge you as Creator, Redeemer, and sustainer of life.

In your mercy hear the prayers of your people.

Forgive our sins and grant us the strength and wisdom to resist and overcome concerted and sustained attacks.

Heal our wounds and restore us to wholeness.

Open our hearts to share our material wealth and talents.

Remind us that time is a gift; help us wisely use it to your glory.

Create in each of us a clean heart and renewed spirit that seeks only to glorify you.

Restore to us the joy of your salvation.

To that end, send a spiritual revival.

Help us live in such a way that others come to believe: Jesus is the only reason for the Christmas Season.

In His name we pray, amen!

Shame on Donald Trump!

Donald Trump’s characterization of professional athletes as S.O. B.s for kneeling and praying for justice for all during the playing of the national anthem at sporting events is indefensible and reprehensible. The President’s comments were disrespectful and they encouraged and incited divisiveness.
It is almost inconceivable that the elected leader of a democracy sought to denigrate citizens for peacefully exercising their constitutional right to free speech, by referring to the athletes’ parents as “bitches.” It is equally unimaginable that thoughtful Americans would cheer the President as he shamelessly insulted private productive citizens.

Unfortunately, that is what happened. Some members in the crowd cheered heartily in response to the President’s lewd characterization of athletes and their parents. Two frightening and tragic images came to mind as I listened to the crowd erupt in cheers.

First, I thought of what it must have been like during the age of the gladiators – mad crowds cheering wildly to encourage atrocities against other people. And more recently, angry, unruly mobs frenzied about witnessing public executions.
Shame on Donald Trump, one of the most influential people in the world, for abusing the power of his office to bully everyday citizens, and to inspire disunity among Americans -the people he is supposed to represent. In Alabama, Mr. Trump did not behave presidentially! He showed no concern for the common good.

 

Ways to Stay in Love with God

Several years ago I read Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living. The small but compelling book was written  by the late United Methodist Bishop Rueben P. Job.  Ever since my  initial reading, the book’s theme: “stay in love with God, do good, do no harm,” has tugged at my spirit.  In fact, over the years I  have frequently found myself thinking about it, reciting it to myself, trying to apply it to my life, and sharing it with others. Two questions that arose from those contemplations, and the answers, are noted below.

The Questions

How does one stay in love with God?

How is that love manifested?

The Response –   

  1. Get to know God intimately through Scripture.
  2. Put God first.
  3. Look for ways to please God daily.
  4. Memorize verses of Scripture for personal spiritual growth.
  5. Meditate on Scripture day and night.
  6. Practice godly living.
  7. Pray always and about everything.
  8. Praise God!
  9. Have faith in God!
  10. Worship God (Worship stems from and takes place in the heart.)