Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2 Prayers for the New Year

I wrote the following  for The Dialogue, the newsletter of the church where I serve, First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ of St. Joseph, MO.

At the end of October, we as a church ended our stewardship campaign with Pledge Sunday.  Although our focus in stewardship tends to be about money—and justly so, since money can be such an addictive idol that takes our attention away from God, being a steward of our time and energy when it comes to our relationship with God also matters.  One of the things I asked church members to commit to was daily prayer for our church.  32 members made that commitment, and this is the model prayer I supplied them with:

A Daily Prayer for First Christian Church 
Loving God, please help First Christian Church of St. Joseph to share your inclusive welcome with all of your children.  Inspire the church members—myself included!—to new depths of service to our community.  Give us the eyes and ears to experience your love in new and exciting ways as we become the church you desire us to be.  In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray these words.  Amen

Let this column be a reminder to those 32 to keep up the praying, and even if you miss a day or two don’t stop.  I confess to missing a day now and then myself, but I have taped this prayer on my bathroom mirror and pray it most every morning.  I cannot quantify the effect it has upon First Christian, but I do know that I have felt a change.  I feel more attentive to the work of God’s Spirit in the life of our church.  I feel less anxious about its future.  I feel that my attention is more on where it should always be—upon God, rather than upon so many other distractions. 

If you did not commit to pray daily for your church, I urge you, as your minister, to do so now.  We can always use more prayer!  If the members of FCC will devote this small amount of time each day to praying a prayer like this one and each member feels the sense of internal change I have described, then I believe we will have a membership more focused upon God, less anxious and more attentive to the work of the Spirit.  That cannot help but be a good thing for our church!

Since we are talking about prayer, let me share one with you by Sharon Watkins, the General Minister and President of our denomination, The Christian Church,Disciples of Christ.  Dr. Watkins, a dynamic preacher and gifted minister, will speak at our church on October 14.  That weekend our region (most of theDOC churches in Missouri) will have their regional assembly, and Dr. Watkins is one of the keynote speakers.  She will hang around on Sunday morning and preach at our church.  She offered the following prayer for our churches.  I encourage you to take a moment and pray it for First Christian Church of St. Joseph:

O God of infinite creativity . . .
At the beginning of this New Year – winter for so many – the rich brown earth is even now preparing to burst forth with a spring of possibilities and new life.
Though the human eye cannot see it, you continue to bless the earth with new beginnings.
We praise you!
Bless us with new beginnings, we pray.
Where we have lost sight of your Reign breaking in – even now at hand –
     Renew our vision.
Where we have faltered in reaching out to our neighbor in love, missing the moment to extend a hand of wholeness,
     Renew our courage.
Where we have allowed cynicism to dry our bones and sinews,
     Renew our hope.
At this beginning of a New Year, dear God, our arms are still warm from cradling the Babe of Bethlehem.
Help us to keep that memory strong.
Strengthen our arms to welcome your many children into communities of love.
Prepare our hearts to burst forth with a spring of possibilities and new life.
Stir us to be and share your love with the same vulnerability, the same humble expectation that brought you into the world in person.
Help us, your church, your disciples, to be harbingers of your reign of justice and of peace fully emerged.
O God of infinite creativity, at the beginning of this New Year, we know that you are about to do a new thing. Help us to perceive it. And to join in.
In the name of Jesus, your greatest new beginning, we pray.

May prayer be a significant part of your 2012!

Grace and Peace,

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