A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Monday, August 22, 2016

Pastoral Prayer (August 21) - Athens First UMC

Pictured Above: Our Outreach Directors, Logan & Wendy with the gift baskets.

[We had another fun time this year in handing out 650 water bottles to OU students during move-in week. We also fed parking meters and took eleven baskets of goodies to our neighboring sororities and fraternities. They were very appreciative. A couple of guys from the frat house next to our church came back to our church that afternoon to thank us a 2nd time for the gift basket! We also had a young couple who noticed us doing all of this outreach pull up and ask about our Sunday worship services. Thank you, Athens First UMC for "Putting Athens First."]

O God, what a joy it is to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ every Sunday here in our church! Thank you for giving us this day of the week to celebrate the new life and new hope that you offer to each one of us and indeed, even to the whole world. Sometimes, Sunday just can’t come soon enough for us because of the challenges and busyness of our day to day living. Thank you for giving us this weekly reminder that we are an Easter people.

We offer a special prayer today for all of our college students who have arrived to campus this past week to begin a new academic year. Bless them as they begin their classes this week. Strengthen them as they face the challenges and temptations of college life so that they would be able to stay focused in the direction you are leading them. And help our church to continue to be a haven of blessing and peace in this unique location you have given us here on South College Street.

On this Independence Day, this little Easter celebration day of our week, we lift up prayers for those who are recovering from physical setbacks, those who are undergoing medical tests, those who are facing major decisions in their lives, those who are searching for a church home, those who feel discouraged and lonely, and those who are unable to leave their homes because of physical limitations. Just as Jesus healed the woman who had been ill for eighteen years in today’s scripture reading, may your healing love surround every person who is in special need of you this day. Thank you for our Stephen Ministry leaders and Stephen ministers who are available in our church to offer your healing love through caring and confidential one to one peer support. We thank you for this vital ministry and for the many people who have and who are being blessed by it.

Empower our church to share your liberating love in all that we say and do. Help us to be like the prayer cross that is located in front of our church building so that the people we see during the week will know that we are a church that cares. May everyone who walks by our church feel welcomed and know that they are unconditionally loved by you.

And now, teach us all; young and old, college student and preschool child, university professor and fast food employee, pastor and church member to pray the prayer you taught us to say, “Our Father, who art in heaven…”

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