A Prayer for Our Educators: Today, some of the last details are being checked off the long list of things to do in classrooms around our community. Today, bulletin boards are having a few final touches added. Today, the basic tools of education are being rounded up and put in place. O Creator God, you have created and gifted certain people to assist in the education of our children. As Jesus was often referred to as a Rabbi, a teacher, you desire for your creation to ask the challenging questions, to expand perspective and to be WOWed by new information and newly emerging science. May those who have been given both the gifts and the responsibilities of educating, continue to seek your creative Spirit in the day to day task of teaching. Where there are budgetary challenges and families with limited resources, let generosity break forth from those who can assist. Help us to help you create little miracles that help to supply the necessary tools that are too often missing in our classrooms. We pray for school boards and state representatives to place education and its funding as the single highest priority. We will never be the people you created us to be unless children and their education are more than a political slogan. In the weeks ahead, we pray that each teacher hear words of affirmation and are able to feel at peace in their calling. May this be so, especially as they face the many challenges that children bring into the classroom. May your Spirit provide patience and wisdom when the human spirit is worn out, and may the not so easily seen rewards of teaching be named and celebrated each day by those who teach. We pray this in the name of your gift, the Rabbi and preacher of love, Jesus. Amen.
A Prayer for Our Children: You, O Gracious God, created us with an inquisitiveness and curiosity that should never be met with simple or dismissive answers. You created us to explore and examine, to challenge and test. For all the children and youth who will return to school in the days ahead, we pray for their growing brains to expand in every direction possible. As they learn the basics of math and writing, we hope your Spirit working within the teachers and the curriculum will kindle questions about life, ethics and just living. May the time spent interacting with other young people create healthy social skills and opportunities to collaborate. Where low self-worth and anger can lead to bullying and even violence, we pray for wisdom and grace and peace to reside in the classrooms, hallways, cafeterias, buses and athletic fields. May every young person find interactions that lift them, inspire them, and open the door of possibilities in their minds. We ask these things in your name, O Lord, but we do not simply ask you to do them. Make it a responsibility that each of us feels. Amen.
Scripture: Matthew 9:36
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were troubled and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Thought for the Day: I really ache a lot these days. Ache, understood as that gut-wrenching, stomach-knotted empathy for someone in pain or difficulty kind of feeling. For some reason, it has seemed a bit more often lately. Not only have I known a number of people experiencing grief and brokenness as of late, I have been watching situations around the globe a little more closely. There are children who are experiencing poverty, violence and disease, yet so much of it is rooted in the selfishness of a small group of people…a selfishness that we see in our own backyard. When Jesus had compassion, it wasn’t about feeling sorry for someone or thinking to himself, “That’s a bummer!” I believe the heart of Jesus was broken, and that brokenness found healing only when he responded in a tangible and transformative way. Whatever breaks your heart today, I pray that it sticks with you long enough to push you to act…to act in a way that is tangible and transformative.
Prayer: Give me a heart that feels with the same depth of Jesus. Give this to me, O Compassionate God, who desires for all Jesus-followers to live with true compassion. Amen.
Blessing of the Backpacks
AT BOTH SERVICES
Prayer for the Week: You, O Living God, are present in every moment and every circumstance. Your love is palpable and available even in the most difficult and painful situations if only we look for it. Provide us with the eyes of faith that see beyond all the obstacles that act like a roadblock and hinder our Spirit-Guided movement. Too often these obstacles are not built by those on the outside of the church, but by the fears of those within the church. If the obstacles appear insurmountable, we can hunker down and complain and do nothing. O Gracious God, the life of Jesus is our vision and the Spirit is our guide. May your grace disperse the fear; may the life of Jesus provide us a picture of what is possible; may your Spirit encourage and direct our steps as we move into a faithful future. As your beloved, we desire above all things to help others experience the unconditional nature of your love. We do not expect them to find us, so you call us to go forth and find them. Where we observe obstacles and believe them to be beyond our capacity to overcome, we look to you and your Spirit to help us find a way so that such obstacles are seen only in our rearview mirror. This is our prayer offered in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Continue To Pray
For Our Educators
And Support Staff
Scripture: 1st Samuel 17:57-58
So when David came back from killing the Philistine, Abner sent for him and presented him to Saul. The Philistine’s head was still in David’s hand. Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, my boy?” “I’m the son of your servant Jesse from Bethlehem,” David answered.
Thought for the Day: Today’s sermon will be based on the larger story of Saul and David’s relationship…or lack there of. This should have been one of the great moments for Saul and the future of his people, but instead, jealousy and insecurity find their way into Saul’s psyche. Suddenly, this is not a good thing for the nation Saul has been called to serve. David’s success is only seen through the lens of an apprehensive and suspicious King. I recently wrote in a text message, “…insecurity is the single most powerful force in the universe…” It has the power to push out God’s hope and dream for our lives. Insecurity that is played out in all the “isms” of human existence (what are your top two ‘isms’?) keeps us from celebrating and embracing the plans God is putting before us. Instead, we spend all our time hiding, justifying or defending our insecurities at the expense of so many. What if we became very intentional about confessing the sin of insecurity? What if we entered into supportive relationships where people helped us moved beyond those insecurities? What if we were able to truly live in the grace of God that casts out all such insecurity? How would life and community be different?
Prayer: I ask, O Lord, for your strength and loving presence as I challenge the insecurities that reside within me. So much of life is lived in sharp reaction to those insecurities and the fear they produce. May Jesus be for me both a model and a mentor as I strive to live a life that honestly acknowledges and works to eliminate those insecurities within me. Amen.
See You In Worship
Scripture: Luke 4:31-32
Jesus went down to the city of Capernaum in Galilee and taught the people each Sabbath. They were amazed by his teaching because he delivered his message with authority.
Thought for the Day: Jesus begins his public ministry in Luke’s Gospel with a trip to Capernaum. It speaks of the peoples’ amazement as he delivered his message with authority. The word here from the original Greek is: Exousia. It is a word used often in Luke’s Gospel and in the book of Revelation. It describes an almost unlimited power that is used to change and redeem. These were not sermons where people looked at Jesus and said, “That was a very nice sermon this morning. Thank you!” These people were amazed and awestruck by the power of the message to change and redeem their lives. This is the kind of power that initially feels very uncomfortable, and for many, they push it away or run away. But those who allow the power of the message to enter in and do its thing will find themselves forever changed.
Prayer: When your Spirit speaks with power and authority, O Giver of the Gospel, may I allow the discomfort to do what you believe is necessary in my life. May it change me where I need to change; may it free me where I am imprisoned; may it bring the ability to truly forgive where I had previously refused to forgive. I hope I am ready for what I am requesting. Amen.
SEE YOU TOMORROW MORNING
Scripture: Luke 4:14
Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news about him spread throughout the whole countryside.
Thought for the Day: What does it mean to speak of being in the power of the Spirit? Jesus had recently been baptized by John, and then spent time in the wilderness where he was tempted. It is a very powerful moment as he begins his ministry. In just a few verses, Jesus himself will declare, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…” This might be described as the pinnacle moment of history, where the fullness of God was known and embraced by a single individual. From that exemplary moment, we are invited into such moments where the fullness of God can be embraced and lived. These moments are probably more readily available than we might think, but it requires us to prepare and make ourselves available. Jesus provides us with helpful ideas for how this is done – ritual (not just baptism), spiritual practices (for example prayer and solitude) and then a clear understanding of purpose (Luke 4:18-19, a ministry for the sake of those who are poor, imprisoned and oppressed). Let us strive toward a life that is lived in the power of the Spirit.
Prayer: I make this request, O Lord: May I learn to be in the power of the Spirit. I know it is not magic or a quick fix, but a life that is intentional with discipline, practice and ritual. May I find ways of making myself more available this day. Amen.
THIS SUNDAY’S SERMON:
Based upon 1 Samuel 18