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, December 12, 2016

Pastoral Prayer (December 11) - Athens First UMC

[The picture above is one of our church members standing in front of a Habitat for Humanity house this past August in nearby Amesville. Our church provided funds to help build this house and Habitat would like to build another house right next to it. Our special Christmas missions offering this year will help make this 2nd house a reality! We will announce how much we have raised at our Christmas Eve services. Let's reclaim the true meaning of Christmas by providing a home for a family in need.]

O God, on this third Sunday of Advent, we sing Christmas joy! You have given us this Sunday during our four week journey to Christmas to have an early celebration of the birth of the Christ Child.

We know that we are still miles away from Bethlehem, but we are almost there and we know that it won’t be that much longer. And so, we offer to you our songs of Christmas joy this morning, while at the same time knowing full well that there is still more for us to do before we finally arrive to the little town of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve.

There are more Monday lunches to cook and serve. There are more Tuesday morning prayer times to lift up the many prayer requests we receive on a weekly basis. There are more Wednesday choir practices. There are more Growing Tree preschool classes. There are more people still praying about what they will offer toward our special Christmas missions offering. And Pastor Robert says that he needs a lot more time to work on his Christmas Eve sermon! A lot more time!

O God, we need these next few weeks to truly reclaim Christmas. Help us to use the remaining time of Advent wisely, by spending time in prayer, worship, and service. May this be a time of not only reclaiming Christmas but where we allow Christmas reclaims us!

Reclaim us to be the people you have called us to be. Reclaim our church to be the community of faith that you have called us to be. Reclaim our hearts to sing Christmas joy even as we live in a community and world of such much anxiety, pain, brokenness, and suffering.

And so, on this Sunday where you call us to sing Christmas joy a little early, we especially pray for those who are experiencing sorrow or loss or who may be going through a difficult time in their life right now. We pray for those who have health concerns. We pray for those who are seeking a new direction in their life. We pray for those who are troubled in spirit. We pray for those who could use a prayer today.

A prayer that goes like this…

“Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespassed against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.”

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