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Monday, December 31, 2012

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings -- Wise Guys Visit Edition

Happy New Year!  How did you ring out 2012?  Did you actually stay awake till midnight?   Hopefully you are getting a bit of a restful day and week but Sunday is still going to come and so we should probably be like good scouts and Be Prepared!

Magi Travelling
As happens every 6 years or so, this year Epiphany Day is on a Sunday.  Mind you many of us read the Epiphany story every year anyway but this year the actual feast day is a Sunday (not that I will be having any feasting at my house on Sunday but I digress).  And the readings for the feast can be found here

As we get ready to consider the strange tale of visitors from afar, shall we pray (originally used as a prayer of confession):
In the light of the star…
we are forced to look at our lives more closely.Watching the magi arrive,
we are challenged to offer our own gifts to the child.As we look at our lives and respond to the challenge,
we confess that our lives are not what they could be, that we sometimes fail to live up to the challenge of being your people.For the times we do not go far enough, when we abandon the search for Your way and presence,
forgive us we pray.
…time of silent confession…Many times in our life’s journey we, like the Magi, come into the presence of God-made-Manifest. Because of that we know that we are accepted and forgiven and sent out again to continue the journey.
Thanks be to the God who travels with us. Amen.

 And how are you approaching the Epiphany Story this year?  Matthew leaves out so many details the tradition and our minds fill in.  Do we get "back to basics" and limit ourselves to what Matthew tells us or do we play with the tradition?

Magi Figurines at this church
Or maybe ignore the issues of who the Magi were and preach on Ephesians?

Or if you did not do a lot on light for Christmas maybe talk about the light to the nations in Isaiah?

And does anyone have a good children's time idea?  I remember once hearing one about a chalk blessing for the house but can not remember anything beyond that....

Share in the comments where worship preparation finds you this early in the New Year...


RevGalBookPals: Help Thanks Wow

It's the end of the year and most of us are pretty tired. Between Christ the King (or Reign of Christ) Sunday and Christmas Day, we have a marathon of services, hurdles of tradition versus new ideas, and a juggernaut of music, readings, plays, parties, and sermons. Panting, we come skidding into the Epiphany- hoping for a nap, inspiration, and a dearth of pastoral calls- in no particular order.

In all this, did you remember to pray?

Perhaps you did. Deep heartfelt prayers and quiet meditations. Rushed words tumbling out of your mouth in between activities. Memorized stanzas comfortable, familiar and consoling. Muttered phrases just upon waking and just before falling asleep. I hope that you got a few prayers in, but I trust that God heard all the prayers of our hearts and minds.

Knowing our need for rest and our need for prayer, I commend to you the very brief new work from Anne Lamott on prayer: Help, Thanks, Wow. (Lamott on Facebook and Twitter) The hardback edition has 102 slim pages and, like most of Lamott's writing, it goes down like your favorite food that also happens to be good for you (high in fiber or protein or what-have-you).

There is little research here on the history of prayer or the orans posture or even prayers of the Bible or other holy writings. Instead, Lamott ponders her own history in prayer- her way of communicating with God. She exposes her own soft underbelly by telling of how she speaks to God in the depth of pain, in great joy, and in times of deep need. In so doing, she draws the reader into a conversation about the reality of what prayer is and how it happens, rather than instructing on what prayer should "be".

Lamott writes:

God can handle honesty, and prayer begins an honest conversations. My belief is that when you're telling the truth, you're close to GOd. If you say to God, "I am exhausted and depressed beyond words, and I don't like You at all right now, and I recoil from most people who believe in You," that might be the most honest thing you've ever said. If you told me you had said to God, "It is all hopeless and I don't have a clue if You exist, but I could use a hand," it would bring tears to my eye, tears of pride in your, for the courage it takes to get real- really real. It would make me want to sit next to you at the dinner table. So prayer is our sometimes real selves trying to communicate with the Real, with Truth, with the Light.  (7) 

While many of us allow ourselves some realness in our own prayer lives, how do we communicate the power of truth-in-self-in-prayer to our parishioners and congregants? In our encouragement toward fullness in prayer lives (in prayer lives at all), what are the ways you've encouraged people toward honesty with God? It is not as though God does not know what we are feeling and thinking. However, for many- the utterance of despair and frustration and truly asking for help is a step too far out to be certain of one's footing. Yet, doesn't faith require some honesty? Shouldn't it promote the same?

Lamott describes three types of prayer: 1) help, 2) thanks, and 3) wow. In each section, she not only gives examples of her own experiences with these prayers, but also their presence in the lives of those around her. She details how expansive they may be and the honesty in their brevity as well.

On "help", Lamott says:

[W]hen we stop trying to heal our own sick, stressed minds... when we are truly at the end of our rope and just done, we say the same prayer. We say, "Help." We say, Help, this is really all too much, or I am going slowly crazy, or I can't do this, or I can't stop doing this, or I can't feel anything. Or, Help, he is going to leave me, or I have no life, or I hate the one I've created, or I forgot to have a life, or I forgot to pay attention as it scrolled by. Or even, Help, I hate her so much and one of my parents is dying- or will never die. Unfortunately, we haven't gotten to the big-ticket items yet: cancer, financial ruin, lost children, incontinence. (29)

We do often utter the most sincere prayers in flashes of grief, joy, and desperation. We know them to be true and we believe them to be heard. This is the gift of prayer- that it is not about getting it right, but getting it heard- getting it said- getting it out- and getting it to God. Our praying (or not) does not inhibit or permit God's own action in a given circumstance, but the act of praying does open us more to seeing the Holy Spirit, to releasing some of what holds us back, to being honest with ourselves, and thus more able to feel God's presence with us.

This tiny book makes a good conversation starter for any group or person in the difference between how we think we should pray and what we actually do. Possibilities for its use include a Lenten study, a book group, a spiritual counseling tool, or just a breather read between Christmas and Epiphany- little prayer primer in the time of Great Light. I do recommend this book to you. It's quick, but you'll find yourself thinking it over, returning to it, and (probably) quoting parts of it to yourself and to others. For Lamott's thoughtful work, I pray, "Thanks and wow."





Lamott, Anne. Help Thanks Wow. Penguin Group; NY, NY. 2012.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Prayer for Christmas 1C


Holy one,
We thank you for coming into our world as a baby brining your love, and your joy into the world.
It seems like just a short time ago we were celebrating his birth
 and now we are taking a peek into the New Year.
We have no idea what the New Year is to bring;
and at the same time some of us are setting goals and making resolutions.
Lord, we pray for a good year for all, we pray that we all may grow in your wisdom.
We pray that all grow in your grace with you and with each other.
Lord our world could use more people who are wise and have grace with you.

 But often Lord we don’t know how to grow in wisdom and in grace with you so we pray you would clothe us in your wisdom;
                 with your love which brings perfect harmony to the disorder of our lives.
               with your compassion that brings calmness and soothes the anger in us.
               with your kindness that is a balm to our pain.
               with your humility that allows the ire of pride to settle down to join
                and collaborate with others.
              with your meekness that stops the wars and bleeding.
              with your patience that keeps us from impulsively giving into our urges.
             with the ability to bear with one another instead of turning our backs on each other.
              with your forgiveness that we can forgive others as you forgive us.
              in your peace so that we could live in peace with one another.
              in gratitude that we would praise you and thank you with grateful heart.

 Lord,
We pray for comfort those who have had deaths during this season
 or facing painful and sad memories and anniversaries of loved ones.
We pray for healing for those who are ill, struggling with failing health, and whose loved ones are sick.
We pray for restoration for those who have been affected by tornados, hurricanes
and other forms of natural disaster.
We pray that violence would end and that your peace, love and joy may reign.
Amen

cross posted at A Place of Prayer   and rev abi's long and winding road

11th Hour Preacher Party: Christmas Week Edition

It's Christmas week!  

We are about half way though the actual "12 Days of Christmas."  In our church, the candlelight service is now a sweet memory, while the Advent wreath and the Christmas tree will remain lighted through January 6.  In our household, we have finished off the leftovers from the Christmas feast.  Many of you had a white Christmas -- or a very white Christmas!  Here in south Louisiana, it's just wet.

What direction will your preaching take this week?  

I'm working with Christmas 1C (Luke 2:41-52) and the young Jesus engaging the teachers in the Temple while worrying his parents.

You might be reflecting on the past year or the year to come.  Or does your congregation have a special worship service for the New Year?  

Some RevGals might be taking a vacation week. Several are in transition to a new call or a new setting.

What are you looking forward to?  Most especially, are you making any preaching or worship plans for the season(s) coming up?  Any reflections on how your preaching and worship leadership is evolving?

WELCOME to our last Preacher Party for 2012!  Let's have fun with it!

Help yourselves to the never-ending supply of fair-trade organic coffee, hot cocoa, and all kinds of tea bags.  Add a Christmas treat to the snack table.  

Pull up a chair, get out that keyboard, and let's get this party started!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The FINAL Friday Five for 2012: Recycle, Re-Gift, Reflect


As we take a breather from the busy weekend of Sunday/Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, it's time to reflect on the past year. It's hard to move out of this holiday season with its delights and celebrations. Here at our home, we've barely finished the eggnog. The tree is still up and our cats delight in knocking off the lower (unbreakable) ornaments. As we are rounding the final turn on the year 2012, I hope you'll play along with these questions. :)
RECYCLE:
1. What is some "old news" this year that you'd like to repeat for 2013?
2. What "new thing" have you started that you want to keep going in 2013?
RE-GIFT:
3. What event, experience or gift would you just as soon "Return to Sender"? Maybe it was a disastrous sermon, a congregational kerfuffle, a vacation nightmare, or your own mis-step. It can be funny or sad. 
REFLECT:
4. Share the brightest bit of joy that was a part of your year. 
5. Share a picture that says far more than words. (You can use it to illustrate one of the above.) 
BONUS:
Share a recipe! I'm in the doldrums and need some healthy eating options for my menu planning. Soup, stew, main dish, side dish or a healthy dessert - any and all are welcome!


Let us know you play by sharing in the comments. You can add your link by using this handy dandy cut-and-paste phrase:

<a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ask the Matriarch - Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Happy Christmas! I hope all of you are enjoying a holy season and finding some rest and renewal following the demands of Advent. Our question this week is short and to the point:
As we say good-bye to 2012 and hello to 2013, what are your personal practices for reviewing your year, professionally and personally, and setting goals for the new year? Are there books or other resources that you use and would recommend for this process?

Anne writes:

I have had differing levels of success with this one; but I try to be cognizant of the "Wellness Wheel" and set some goals reflecting at least half of the wheel.  When I was part of a clergywomen's monthly group we spent an entire year working our way through the wheel.  The accountability helped all of us do a better job at setting goals and maintaining the disciplines.  

With the start of 2013, our church staff and our daycare staff will begin a friendly competition focusing primarily on physical fitness.  We'll have a fitness challenge between the two staffs - goals as of yet to be determined.  The majority of the staff could happily lose weight and increase muscle tone and core strength.  After we've worked on the physical with some success over a few months, I'm hoping we can consider goal-setting in a second area. 

I just bought pedometers with a calorie counter for all the daycare staff as Christmas gifts, and a couple pieces of equipment for everyone to share: jump rope, soft hand weights, ankle weights, and a ball.  We're starting a zumba class together soon at church.  

Happy New Year to all the RevGals - from a soon to be trimmer me!  :)


 

Jennifer offers:

I set goals personally and them share them with the Personnel Committee. They’re a good group of savvy folk who help me to be realistic and not too hard on myself. Their support and my self-critique balance nicely.
I’d be very interested in books or other resources that all have to share. The best book our committee has used for review is Jill Hudson’s book, published by the Alban Institute, called When Better isn’t Enough.

And Ruth adds:
I feel like every year I resolve to be more in control of my diary & more able to free up to time to respond well to all the demands of ministry. This year I might actually manage it – as I’ve just finished reading Stephen Cherry’s book “Beyond Busyness: Time Wisdom for Ministry” . I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to take stock of how you use your time.

Hope that helps!

--
Thank you, Matriarchs, especially for offering these good responses during such a busy time!

At the beginning of this year, I worked through the book Your Best Year Yet by Jinny Ditzler. I had seen a retreat offering based on the book, and I was inspired to try to take my own personal retreat with the book while on vacation. I found it to be a great way to frame the new year for myself, though I didn't do so well with following up each month to make sure I was staying on track with my hopes for the year. Still, I liked it enough that I may revisit it for the coming new year.

What about the rest of you? How do you take stock of the old year and prepare for the new? Are there resources you might share with the rest of us? Please join our conversation in the comments section. 

We are welcoming a new editor for this column. Crimson Rambler will begin putting this column together in January. Help us welcome her to the helm by sending us some more questions for our queue! You can send us your questions at askthematriarch[at]gmail[dot]com.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday Festival: Christmas Unwrapped

Blessed Christmastide, RevGals and Pals!

Extend the joy of the Holy Day (and really, as Jesus Freak reminds us, yesterday was not the culmination of all things "Christmas" but rather the beginning!) by delighting your soul with these Christmas words around our blog network:

~ Rev. Jeanne's Christmas Day reflection on singing and caroling asks,
"What new song will Christ inspire in you?"

~ One Wild and Precious Life holds the Newtown tragedy in tension with Christmas:
"Christmas is a hoping for heaven while living squarely on earth."

~ DrTony considers the story of a child born into a warring world
and challenges our response to such a holy event.

~ RevRosa shares images of her Christmas morning ministry ... perhaps spatially distinctive
from a church building decorated with candles and poinsettias, but so clearly incarnate.

~ At LLM Calling, Emma invites us to mindfulness in the task
of sorting Christmas light tangles.

~ And, for all of the reasons that Christmas can be a difficult day/season,
Jen at Narrating Grace offers this comfort: "Jesus doesn't wait until our faith is strong."

May your joy be complete not so much in the holiday but in the Incarnate God of these holy days!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings~~Merry Christmas edition

On this most holy day, we are (hopefully!) taking a well-deserved break from sermon prep to enjoy family and friends, and perhaps even a nap! We'll be back to resume our "regular program" next week! 

May this time be filled with blessings and joy, and may we remember that Christmas is a beginning, not an end in itself. 




The Work of Christmas

When the star in the sky is gone,
When the Kings and Princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost
To heal the broken
To feed the hungry
To release the prisoner
To teach the nations
To bring Christ to all
To make music in the heart.

                — Howard Thurman







Merry Christmas everyone!









Monday, December 24, 2012

11th Hour Preacher Party: A Christmas Blessing

and, the final installment of the Christmas  meditation:





May there be harmony in all your relationships.
May sharp words, envious thoughts, and hostile feelings be dissolved.
May you give and receive love generously.
May this love echo in your heart like the joy of church bells on a clear December day.
May each person who comes into your life be greeted as another Christ.
May the honor given the Babe of Bethlehem be that which you extend
 to every person who enters your presence.
May the hope of this holy season settle in your soul.
May it be a foundation of courage for you when times of distress occupy your inner land.
May the wonder and awe that fills the eyes of children be awakened within you.
May it lead to renewed awareness and appreciation of whatever you too easily take for granted. 
May the bonds of love for one another be strengthened as you gather 
around the table of festivity and nourishment.
May you daily open the gift of your life
and be grateful for the hidden treasures it contains.
May the coming year be one of good health for you.
May you have energy and vitality.
May you care well for your body, mind, and spirit.
May you keep your eye on the Star within you and trust this luminescent presence 
to guide and direct you each day.
May you often go to the Bethlehem of your heart and visit the One who offers your peace.
May you bring peace into this world. 

(from "Out of the Ordinary" by Joyce Rupp)

11 Hour Preacher Party: part three Christmas edition

meditation for Christmas, part three








11 Hour Preacher Part: Christmas Eve/Day Edition part 2



 A meditation inspired by the prayer posted earlier this morning.(for additional ideas for sermon material please check out the comments in the Preacher Party Martha held yesterday I especially like the YouTube video of the kids in New Zealand and Esperanza's story about the teacher using her groupon ticket to pay for a bus to take school kids out to do good deads).

There is an old story about bread and a simple act of compassion. 

Once there was a man who lived next door to a church. Despite this fact he spent every Sunday sleeping through the worship service. One morning he awoke early, just in time to hear, through the open window, some verses of scripture being read. In the passage God instructs the children of Israel to place twelve loaves of bread on the holy table. 

The man, in his half-awake bewildered state, believed that God had spoken to him directly, instructing him to place twelve loaves of bread on the altar in the church. The man felt somewhat honored at the thought that God needed him. But, given that he was wealthy enough to do anything, he also felt somewhat foolish that all God wanted was bread. Giving bread did not seem very important. Nonetheless the man got up and made twelve loaves of bread. 

Later, the man entered the church with his bundle of bread and wondered how he could possibly leave it without being seen.  Finally the room was empty and he was able to place the bread on the table, as he did so he said, “Thank you, God for guiding me in your desire. Pleasing you, God, fills me with delight.” And then the wealthy man left.

No sooner had the wealthy man gone than a poor man  came into the church and knelt in a pew to pray. All alone he poured out his heart and told God how he had nothing, not even enough food to feed his family for the week. Then the man saw the twelve loaves of bread on the altar and exclaimed, “It’s a miracle! Blessed are you, O God, who answers prayers.” He collected the bread and ran home to share it with his family and neighbors.

Minutes later the wealthy man returned, curious to know what God had done with the bread. Slowly he climbed the stairs to the holy table where he saw that the bread was gone. “Oh my God,” he whispered, “You really ate the loaves! I thought you were just kidding. This is wonderful. You can bet that next week I will bring twelve more loaves!”

The following week the rich man returned with twelve loaves of bread. He placed them on the holy table and left. Shortly there after the poor man returned and once again began his litany of woes. Then, again, he saw the bread on the holy table and felt that his prayers had been answered.

And so began a weekly ritual that lasted twenty years. The rich man baked twelve loaves of bread and placed them, once a week, on the holy table. And once a week the poor man came, said a prayer, and found the bread. It became such a routine that neither man gave it much thought.

Then one day the priest, detained in the sanctuary longer than usual, witnessed this amazing and odd ritual. First she saw the richest man in town place on the holy table twelve loaves of bread. Then she saw the poorest man in town come and take those loaves of bread. 

The priest summoned both men to come and meet her. Then the priest questioned the men about their actions. The men were ashamed, one thinking he had given bread to God and the other thinking the bread was from God. They vowed to never to do this again. But the priest said, “Each of you look at your hands. Yours,” she said to the rich man, “Are the hands of God giving food to the poor. And yours,” she said to the poor man, “are the hands of God receiving gifts from the rich. In this way, God is present in your lives. Go and continue baking and continue taking. Your hands are the hands of God.”

Over and over God acts in and through the lives of human beings. God acted through Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel. From these ancient women and men God builds a nation of people who listen and follow God’s desire. Later, as we hear in Luke, God acted through Mary and Joseph. God calls them to bear forth into this world, the very life of God.  The mystery of Christmas is revealed in the reality of God choosing to act in and through human life.

The incarnation, the birth of God's love in human form, makes everything else possible. It is the birth of God in human flesh that assures us of God’s presence with us. God chose to manifest God’s love in human flesh. God chose to work in and through human lives.  It is the birth that shows us, as Christians, how to live as faithful people in the Paschal Mystery. For it is the birth that eventually directs us to the brokenness in human life, to recognize all the ways we reject God’s love. It is the birth that leads to the life and the crucifixion - a sad and tragic death that leads to  new life again – all with the assurance that God’s love is given over and over, given to us exactly as we are, in all our brokenness. 

In this Christmas season, still raw from the tragedies of this year, of lives taken too soon, too young, let us embrace anew the birth of God’s love in the Christ child. For life is full of tragedy, even the life of Jesus, God’s child contained pain and suffering. 

But God is always present. God is present at our birth. God is present in our lives. God is present and caring in our suffering. God is with the dying. And God is working through the pain and brokenness of this world to bring forth new life.

When the world was dark, Christ crept in beside us, to love us. Born in and through the darkness, God’s love comes into the world to tend to our brokenness. Birthed from the darkness of Mary’s womb like the darkness of our lives, the light of Christ is born. In darkness life begins and brings forth hope, love, peace, and joy.

As Christians we are called, through baptism, to be the Body of Christ, which means we are called to bring forth God’s love in and through our lives – as a church, as a community, and as individuals. 

The bread of Holy Communion is one of the primary ways we know the presence of the living God. 

Give us this day our daily bread.

I am the bread of life, which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

The bread that Christ gives us is the food of love, nourishing our hearts and souls.  Fed by the love of God in Christ we are called to heal the sick, called to care for the poor, called to reconcile the broken- hearted. 

Come, Lord Jesus, be with us in the bread; 

Come, let us share in the one bread, that we may be a source of hope for others.

 Let us become the food of love that will heal this broken world.

 Let us be Christ’s hands and heart in the world, may all our actions and words bring forth peace.

God was born into the world a small vulnerable baby, trusting human hands to hold their maker.  May we hold that trust tenderly and through it bring forth peace, hope, and love.  May the joy of our lives bring joy to the world.

Merry Christmas.



  

The source of the story used at the beginning of this meditation is unknown to me. The rest of the meditation is my Christmas homily this year. May this day be rich and full of God's grace and mercy. May you find rest even as you move from preparation to serving, offering up your Christmas sustenance in food and word. 

Merry Christmas one and all.

Part three will be posted in a few hours.

God's love beside us: The 11th Hour Preacher Party Christmas Edition

Today begins what I am calling a growing meditation. Four posts will appear over the course of the day beginning with this prayer, followed in a few hour with a meditation on the prayer, then a YouTube, and concluding with another prayer. Perhaps you will find resources to aid in your sermon preparation from these offerings? Perhaps they will serve as balm for your troubled spirit? Perhaps they will feed you in some way as we welcome Christmas into our lives, the birth of the Christ child. Merry Christmas friends.



A Christmas Prayer
originally posted on this blog by me on Monday December 24, 2007...A longer reflection follows.

When the world was dark
and the city was quiet,
you came.

You crept in beside us.

And no one knew.
Only the few
who dared to believe
that God might do something different.

Will you do the same this Christmas, Lord?

Will you come into the darkness of tonight/today's world;
not the friendly darkness
as when sleep rescues us from tiredness,
but the fearful darkness,
in which people have stopped believing
that war will end
or that food will come
or that a government will change
or that the Church cares?

Will you come into that darkness
and do something different
to save your people from death and despair?

Will you come into the quietness of this city/town,
not the friendly quietness
as when lovers hold hands,
but the fearful silence when
the phone has not rung,
the letter has not come,
the friendly voice no longer speaks,
the doctor's face says it all?

Will you come into that darkness,
and do something different,
not to distract, but to embrace your people?

And will you come into the dark corners
and the quiet places of our lives?

We ask this not because we are guilt-ridden
or want to be,
but because the fullness of our lives long for
depends on us being as open and vulnerable to you
as you were to us
when you came,
wearing no more than diapers,
and trusting human hands
to hold their maker.

Will you come into our lives,
if we open them to you
and do something different?

When the world was dark
and the city was quiet
you came.

You crept in beside us.

Do the same this Christmas, Lord.

Do the same this Christmas.

Amen.
(Iona Community)


Later today a meditation on this prayer will be posted.






Sunday, December 23, 2012

Little Christmas Eve Preacher Party

My children had a Swedish grandmother, and while she was still living we would often have the family party on the 23rd, which she called Little Christmas Eve. The table would be decorated with Swedish horses and flags and laid with food from the old country (filtered through my non-Swedish father-in-law's training in classic French cookery).

As we preachers and pastors prepare for Christmas Eve with all its festivities and stresses, come take a seat at the Julbord. Find a piece of smoked salmon, or eat some rotmos (our family's favorite), and some Swedish meatballs with lingonberries, or go straight to the pepparkakor. I won't tell.

Join the party by leaving a comment. How did worship go this morning? What's on for tomorrow? Do you have a great idea to share? We're here until a fresh version of the party starts tomorrow morning.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Prayer for Advent 4C


Shepherd God,

You promised to take care of and feed your flock.

If ever there was a time we needed a Shepherd God it is now.

We need your strength as we feel so weakened by the tragic events of last Friday, by funerals for young children, teachers and a young man.

We are all looking for answers to why and how to stop this from ever happening again. And frankly we don’t know what to do. If we are to believe the media, someone is to blame or something.

Yet as your believers and followers you have taught us not to blame but to forgive and so God help us to forgive.

Lord this tragedy also reminds us to pray for those who have metal illnesses and to not turn our back on them but to assure them proper care and medical treatment.

Lord we are reminded through our scripture today that you did not look down on a young woman long ago who was pregnant out of wedlock but favored her and blessed her.

And you did not shame nor shun and older woman who had been barren for so long, but blessed her and filled her with your joy.

And you have not stopped loving the unloved, favoring the unfavorable, looking for the lost, seeing the hidden ones, lifting up the lowly, embracing the poor and fed the hungry and neither should we.

It is through your great mercy that you have done this and it is your mercy that empowers us to give not just at Christmas time but every day.

Lord there are many who need restoring in their bodies, minds and emotions.

There are many who need healing physically, mentally emotionally and spiritually.

There are many homes, marriages, families and children that need to be made whole.

There are countries that are broken and at odds with their own people, that need to be made right.

Lord if there ever was a time when we need a Shepherd God it is now.

Come Lord Jesus come and be our Shepherd.
 
cross posted at a place for prayer and rev abi's long and winding road