1 Timothy 5:23 No longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.
Ever Present God, we speak of you coming into our lives, dwelling within, and shining forth from inside us to others. Glory and praise to You for the indescribable ways You live around and within me! Today, I pray for my body and the body of others. Every organ can be touched by the Great Physician. This is Stomach Cancer Awareness Day, so for the health of all may I be more informed about this problem and its prevention.
Master, in these days my heart goes out to friends and acquaintances living with any kind of cancer. Jesus, be with Jonathan, Joe, Dwight, Jack, Peter, and many others. Especially I ask for blessings – and miracles! – for these who are undergoing times of testing, treatment, or even surgery. I want the very best for them! I want to support them. I want them to get every bit of the best care possible. I want them not just to ‘struggle’ against a disease, but to live, and live abundantly as possible. Let there be help, let there be healing, let there be happiness for each one. Hear my prayer. Amen.
Exodus 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’”
God of the Promise, the season of promises has begun. I turn to You, the Giver of the perfect Gift. I praise Your for the blessings that come my way, and the blessings I hear about for others. Praise You for friends who mark special moments like 365 days sober, or so many years without smoking. These are such good milestones, Lord! Praise You for the people who celebrate a 99th birthday, or 65th anniversary, or other such amazing times. Praise You for folks who ring a bell or throw a party to say, ‘I’ve finished my cancer treatments! I’m going to be OK.”
God of history, as so many turn their eyes to scenes from Bethlehem, two millenia ago, I pray for the peoples of that part of the Middle East. Bless the Palestinians today. It is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People: in the midst of conflict that goes on forever, may the world remember the people of Palestine, and their struggle for homeland and for justice. In the name of the Prince of peace, Jesus. Amen.
WELCOME to this post with a bit of content from our morning worship service for this First Sunday of Advent. Full service details are in the Bulletin, here on the website. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel. Amen.
(Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14) J G White
Strangers in a Strange Land: It’s October of 2010. I find myself in the high Andes of South America. Walking the market streets of El Alto, Bolivia, I pass the vendors selling hats, a whole street selling hats. Then another few blocks of fruits and vegetables, outdoors. Then all the meat sellers in a row, with what are to me mystery meats, out in the cool sunshine of a spring day down there. Some must be cow’s stomach, or something like that. Then, the witches market, with the ever popular dried Llama fetuses for sale. And on it goes in the city.
I don’t want to buy much. Just as well, I think to myself. I don’t know a word of Spanish, not even the numbers to haggle over a price. I’m a stranger in a strange land. Yet, I was there on tour with pastors, visiting Baptist Churches and ministries and experiencing Christian work.
Some of you have been far more a ‘stranger in a strange land’ than this. And you got some cultural intelligence for your experience.
Then again, right at home, we have times when things change for us, and we feel strange, or the world around us grows strange. Sound familiar? Two years ago now, in 2019, were any of you guessing how our habits would have changed since then? We are in a bit of a strange land now, right here at home, in this pandemic season.
The scripture stories of Jesus’ nativity are filled with strangers in a strange land. Magi from the far East. Angelic messengers from who knows what heavenly realm. Even Joseph and Mary have to go to a different town at the time of the birth, not to mention when they had to flee south into Egypt to save their child from execution.
Plus, we see Jesus as a stranger among us – since He is God the Creator joining creation.
But we are not into those stories yet. We start back among the prophets. Today, five hundred and some years before Jesus, Jeremiah is writing letters. Letters for his people who had been conquered by the Babylonian empire, and hauled off into Babylon. Jeremiah earlier had been obedient to remain celebate and not marry or have children, as a warning about the conquest that was about to happen. But now, now his godly message is to settle down in the foreign land where they are really prisoners. Marry, have children, farm the land, take care of things. This is your ‘new normal,’ he tells the Hebrews, on behalf of God.
These tales of the exile of the Jews get me thinking of how we enter strange times in our lives, when we don’t feel quite at home anymore. And we are not sure what to do with ourselves. It happens. Maybe we have all been getting a bit of that strange feeling over the past couple years.
Let me draw out six things for us in this twenty-first month of a pandemic, this strange land we live in now. First, let’s live here, in ‘Covidland.’ We are learning to do this already, of course. It is no longer just a matter of waiting it out. We have to live it now. I dislike the phrase, but we live in our ‘new normal.’ As Jeremiah preached it, so we do today: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; …multiply there, and do not decrease.
At first, like, back in August of 2020, we were hiding and waiting. Waiting for the pandemic to end. We put a lot of life on hold – we had to. Remember the first lockdown? We missed out on Good Friday and Easter, among other things. We only had recordings or something to read at home for Sunday mornings. Some of you said things like: ‘Oh, when we do finally all get back together, we are really going to celebrate. We will do Palm Sunday and Easter and Anniversary all at once!’ Was not that simple. It’s been a soft start, never yet getting back to BC – before COVID. We are in this for the long haul, like Jeremiah’s people in Babylon of old. Settle in – this is your new normal.
Second thing: bless the new situation, the place where we live. What was in Jeremiah’s letter of God to the Jews in exile? 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. I think it is true that our well-being is not in trying to get to life as it was in 2019. We will be well when we bless the new ways we need to follow. We make beautiful masks, bothersome as they are. We greet people with joy without touching them. We even meet people online and over the phone instead of in person.
And we disciples of Jesus are here to bless our community, oppressed by COVID-19 as it is. Some congregations have recently felt the need to stop all midweek things that require proof of vaccination. So that no one feels left out, we suppose? But, as my wise step-daughter asked, ‘do they just quit ministering to everyone because they can’t include some people?’ She implies an answer: no!
We must do all we can to bless as many people as possible, even with the limits of these days, and even when the rules and how to follow them don’t make sense to us. Seek the welfare of Covidland.
Another thing: don’t be led astray by lying voices. What happened back in Jeremiah’s day, when so many Hebrews got taken to a foreign land? Many religious prophets said they would soon be free. Such as Hananiah, who prophesied: “Thus says the Lord: …I will break the yoke of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years.” No. Jeremiah’s word was the exile would be long. Like, seventy years! 8 …Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, Jeremiah preached, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream…
This is a very divisive time. So many voices – about COVID-19 issues, among all the other things. So many disagreements. So much hostility. Everyone with ‘their truth,’ correcting someone else. Not always easy, eh? How not to be led astray: there’s the challenge. I think some gentleness is in order – in how we disagree with others, in how we share something we think is very important, in how we decide to believe and follow one path or another, in how we let someone else be different and go their way.
And there is a lot to be said for learning, better and better, to know the voice of our Master. What are we told? ‘The sheep know His voice.’ There is so much to learn about our Master’s voice. Picture the scene, down south, about sixty years ago. It’s Sunday dinner in a family home, after the service in their local Southern Baptist Church. Adults around the table talk of the message the Pastor gave, including grand plans direct from the Lord for their church. Then the matriarch, wise grandmother, speaks. She is a real icon of faith and tradition in the family and the Church. But she quietly says, “I don’t know why God never speaks to me like that.” Decades later, her grandson, Dallas Willard, wrote his book, ‘Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship With God.’
Keep up that conversation, and don’t be led astray.
Speaking of the voice of Christ, God spoke through Jeremiah in the sixth century BCE a now beloved verse: 29:11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Now, for us, there is a divine plan, a good plan.
How many of you have seen this verse on a mug, or a wall plaque, or a cross-stitched pillow? Just remember that, in this bit of Hebrew scripture, the ‘you’ is plural. Like the southerners say, ‘Y’all.’ God knows the plans God has for ya’ll. Even ‘all y’all,’ as they sometimes say. Not me and you: plans for us.
I believe God has a wonderful plan for our lives, together. Even on this cusp of 2022. And plans for a future with hope sounds very good when we are all in this pandemic boat together.
Yet, keep things in perspective: this pandemic is not that bad for us. Here’s my fifth point: we are not in exile. We may feel we are strangers in a strange land, but we have it pretty easy, we in these pews, compared with most people on the planet. We are certainly not as displaced as Jeremiah’s people.
Yes, we have a pandemic lightly touching us. It is a healthcare crisis. At least we have health care. A friend just got diagnosed with non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It took just a few weeks of testing. In two days he gets his first chemotherapy needle. He’s lucky. We talked about this the other day. What if he lived in Sudan – after a political coup last month and a drought emergency now? Or in Ethiopia – having a civil war today? Or Afghanistan, where fourteen million people face hunger daily. What do you suppose their healthcare is like?
We have it easy here: even in a global pandemic, even with the price of everything going up, even with… well, whatever our other serious complaints are.
We are not in exile. Even as Christians in Canada now, we’re not in exile, not in some modern day pagan Babylon. Sometimes believers think we have lost so much, and are so oppressed now. We do not have it that bad! It is more likely that we are Babylon, we are the rich oppressors of others on the planet, we Canadians who are Christian.
Now, my sixth and final point: for believers, seeking and finding God is the greatest goal and prize. From Jeremiah’s letter, speaking for the LORD: 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart…
Here’s another decorative quotation I’ve seen on people’s walls: ‘Wise Men still seek Him.’ There is always seeking to be done. All the practices and habits of religion seem to say this. We don’t ‘arrive.’ We don’t ‘make it’ and then rest on our spiritual laurels. I think of the apostle Paul who spoke of running the race of faith so as to win it (1 Cor 9:24), and in another place: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12)
What the will of God for us is now is new, eh, in this pandemic time. Not to mention other things about our circumstances. We have never been here before. True. I have never even been fifty-one years old before – neither have you been your age. Our guide, the Spirit, can lead us on. All is known to the Holy One we trust.
So here we start the story of Jesus all over again, with Advent: four Sundays before Christmas. Once again looking for inspiration to seek and find the Saviour. To grow in our fellowship, our obedience, our sacrifice, our joy with Jesus. I know I have further to go. Do you?
Just yesterday I got a phone message from an acquaintance from out of town. A fellow I knew in my youth, just a few years older than me. I called him back. He asked about baptism, as he has had such a renewal of his faith! He asked if, maybe… perhaps, it could even happen in December. Of course it can! We have plans for a baptism here already on December 12th. At any age and stage of life, progress with Jesus happens, and should be celebrated.
Dear stranger, in this strange land: remember, in Christ, you are also a citizen of the heavens, the Kindom. So you are at home already, even in these unusual times. As we long for Jesus, let us rest in Him. We heed the call to go to Bethlehem again. And we ask afresh for God to come to us abide with us, our Lord, Emmanuel. Amen.
The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Neibuhr
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.
Malachi 3:1 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.
Practical God, You appear in down-to-earth ways, as You stood among us in Christ two thousand years ago. I thank You for those moments when I do know You, right in front of me, suddenly appearing in a temple, so to speak. Sometimes the temple is a Church, gathered to praise and pray. Sometimes the temple is under the trees in the forest. Sometimes the temple is in the pages of a book. Sometimes the temple is in the eves of a neighbour. Praise You! You are Reality with a personality.
This weekend, make Yourself so real to my brothers and sisters of the Bear River East Baptist Church. Bless Pastor Fred and that Church family with all the hopes of Advent. Strengthen their sense of ministry in the area. Help them fulfill all their good plans. In Your power: Father, Christ, and Spirit. Amen.
Psalm 150:5 Praise him with clanging cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! 6 Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Breath of God, Spirit Divine, I pause in my day to be grounded, to be aware of You, to rest in Christ. Aid me now to stop what I’ve been doing.
Let me get into a comfortable position, at rest.
I breathe slowly now, and deeply, letting go of all the thoughts that flood my mind.
Come, Holy Spirit, breathe in me.
Holiness, I quietly rejoice in You. Thank You for moments to quiet the body and the soul, and to detect Your touch in my life. Thank You for guidance, for healing, for hope and purpose. I become aware of my feelings and admit them to You, and myself. And so I pray for others in their needs. May those who face stress all day long be given relief. May those who are hurting in body have their pain soothed. I pray today because this is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month, and ask that all with lung circulation problems may find as much healing and ways to manage the problem as possible. Amen.
Romans 12:20 “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Mighty God of Goodness, into Your purity I look, despite my failings. Into Your holy word I look, in spite of my doubts and questions. Into Your creation I look, in contrast with my self-absorption. I praise You! Your presence and purposes are there, hidden in plain sight. Thank You, dear Master.
This day, I pray for relief and help in British Columbia, in eastern Nova Scotia, and western Newfoundland and Labrador, in the wake of stormy flooding. The damage, the isolation, and the needs to rebuild are so great. Saviour, bless the people, the land, and the teams working to care for everything that is in a mess! Also today, this International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, my prayer is for non-violence. May it begin with me. O Son of God, cleanse me even of violent words and body language, and of my violent attitudes that underlie them. Then I may contribute to the effort to eliminate all harm. In Your name, Prince of Peace. Amen.
Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all. 20 He keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken.
“God our Protector, keep us in mind; always give strength to Your people.” I do need strength for this journey, O Lord. Strength of body to keep at my daily tasks. Strength of mind to focus upon others instead of myself. Strength of heart to be compassionate and to receive the gifts others give me. Strength of spirit to find faith and faithful ways of living.
This day, I pray for folks whose bones are brittle, and must take care to stay strong, and sometimes to be healed. In this Osteoporosis Month, let the work of medicine, and of falls prevention, help all who are in danger of injury. Help all with this problem to manage it well, and be supported by those around them. Thank You for Your help, Mighty God. Amen.
1 Samuel 24:3 He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave.
Master Creator, incarnate in Jesus, present in Spirit: I thank you this day that I have life again, I can breathe and eat and drink. I can see and sense and think. I can love and communicate and relate. Life is still full, so full, of possibilities. A windy rainstorm hits the province; I am safe and secure. Praise to You, triune God! I bow in thanks.
Creator, the simple biology of life is not so simple. November is Incontinence Awareness Month, and so I do pray for people whose health and social life are hampered by this problem. People tend to snicker and joke about such things, God. Yet, when bodily functions stop working as they should, we are in trouble. Master, let me not take for granted the body I have, and how well it works. Let me be compassionate in my actions and my attitudes to people with illnesses or symptoms that may remain hidden. In the name and the way of Christ. Amen.
WELCOME to this worship post of Digby Baptist Church, on the final Sunday of the liturgical year, Reign of Christ Sunday. Before Advent begins, we glimpse the old promises of a Messiah today. Full service details are published here in the Bulletin.
Light at the End of the Tunnel (Isaiah 9:1-7; Luke 11:33-36) Here we are, friends, dealing with the darkness. Is that not what Church is for, Christianity’s purpose? A way of seeking – and finding – a bright spot.
We have personal crises. I am anxious right now about a few of you, and another friend, at the beginning of cancer diagnosis and treatment. What’s going to happen? What will be suffered? I so want the very best to happen to each one. I pray for light and life to the fullest in each case.
In the wider community there is the ongoing health care crisis, including the challenges of staffing and running our nursing homes, and of keeping ambulances running. We face the dark, unending COVID crisis, with all the confusion and anxiety that goes with it. We see also a housing crisis, so much so that in our own community people are organizing to try and make a difference. How long before things start getting better in each situation?
Above and beyond this we know about the environmental crisis, a ‘climate emergency.’ And then there are the natural disasters, like the situation in British Columbia. Plus other human problems like war and violence, or racism that keeps gnawing at justice. These long-term challenges are being faced… ever so slowly.
And here we are, Sunday morning, worshipping, in a divisive time, a season of Church decay, often stumped about what to do next to make a difference to the spiritual lives of our neighbours, and keep churches functioning. Will our children have faith? A shared faith in Christ?
Pick any one of these situations. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? A happy ending? Do we know how to head in that direction? Here we are, together, seeking the answers, seeking the way forward, seeking not to go it alone. One challenge at a time is big enough: put these all in a heap and we can be overwhelmed.
I already read you this story from an activist and author [Jan Phillips], back in March. She said: The other night I admitted to a friend that I was hopeless. In my mind, it’s not a permanent condition. Not debilitating. It’s the weather, not the climate. I will get over it. I just wanted to be honest. On that day, in that hour, I said it.
He didn’t inquire into it. Didn’t empathize. Didn’t nod his head and say, “Awww…” He tried to talk me out of it. As if I had just gone down the wrong road. It made me mad. I want to be able to have my feelings and not have someone think they should be different. I just wrote this poem to describe that.
If you ask me how I am and I say “hopeless,” think: she is the moon, a waning crescent, so perfect and true.
Do not think you should help me find hope, guide me toward gratitude, send me pink peonies.
Think: she is nature‑ ever-changing, this one view so fleeting; think: bud to bloom, acorn to oak, tadpole to toad. I am that.
Never the same.
I am creation expanding, same as you, a cauldron of seething chaos spinning into unspeakable beauty.
Hopeless moments come and go in our lives. One of the lessons of our faith in Christ is that there is a time to lament and mourn, a time to be helpless and be praying for miracles. To walk into the unknown is hard.
Sometimes, we get to the light at the end of the tunnel, and there’s another dark tunnel! What’s that about? This, I think, is one of the more discouraging things about life and about history. This is the experience of some of you, and of various folks we’ve known. We overcome one crisis, come out the other side, and then another disaster strikes.
But this is also seen in history, in our faith history, the Bible story. That encourages me. Why? Because I still believe what Martin Luther King Jr. quoted: We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. (“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.” Speech given at the National Cathedral, March 31, ‘68)
In the wider plan, the big picture, hope goes on, love wins, Christ gains the victory. Even when disappointments seem to keep coming, over and over. The Bible story is not all happy endings. It all is still unfinished, pointing in a hopeful direction to something incredible and good that we but glimpse here.
The scenes into which Isaiah spoke, in Jerusalem, those scenes are in the flow of Hebrew history – with so many ups and downs, over and over again. So many great promises come along, from God Almighty, but are seldom fulfilled to perfection, and seldom last long, it seems. So the true finale is yet to come.
I look at the timeline from the Hebrew Bible, and see a repeating story. The patriarchs: when a terrible famine comes, the eleven sons and families find safety with their long lost brother in Egypt. Those Hebrews prosper for a couple hundred years there; then they are oppressed, and become slaves.
After another couple centuries, through Moses they are promised freedom and a return to the Promised Land. They are freed! But they take a long journey to get to that land of milk and honey. When they get there they have to recapture it and fight for it.
Life in the promised land begins with leadership by what they called ‘judges,’ such as Deborah and Gideon and Samson. Some lead well, some terribly. At one point, Yahweh God relents and allows the people to have a king, like the other nations around the Middle East. Kings Saul, David, and Solomon rule the children of Israel in a united kingdom. The spectacular Temple gets built. Ah, what glory days!
Then the kingdom splits in two. See that on the timeline? Two Hebrew kingdoms – Israel in the north, Judah in the South. So much for happy unity in the Promised Land!
This brings us to the season of prophets like Isaiah. They gave beautiful hope; they gave severe warnings! What happens? The Assyrian empire comes down and conquers the northern kingdom. Next, the Babylonians come down and finish things off. Jerusalem even gets destroyed by the end of it, and many of the leading Jewish people are taken away as captives to Babylonia. That’s the EXILE on the timeline.
Biblical history goes on from them. Suffice it to say… the final answer, the final promise, the final anointed King, the final kingdom – we see in Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Son of Mary. And in a sense, all the promises finally happen outside of history and earth as we know it. So we have these visions of a new heavens and new earth, united again, as in Paradise.
We Christians go back even to Isaiah, and see his divinely inspired poetry pointing all the way to our future. A Child born for us in Bethlehem becomes our Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. And Jesus’ way of running things is absolutely perfect.
We hear in these ancient phrases hopes for all our fears. Good things will happen: The people who walked in darkness will see a great light. There will be good things provided for those who are needy: they rejoice before You, as with joy at the harvest. There will be peace among peoples and no more need for soldier’s uniforms: for all the boots of the trampling warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. There will be justice for those oppressed and mistreated and left out: He will establish it [the kingdom] with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And at the end of the next one. And the one after that. To such hopes we cling, with our dear God. It is a matter of faith to see things this way. It is a vision we hold.
Sharon and I have had a friend, Jennifer – a unique and beautiful Christian person. When she went through intense cancer treatments, I kept each of her posts she typed onto Facebook. What she wrote was so clear and touching, so honest and hopeful. When she went through all that, Jennifer kept seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Someday I want to read her whole diary of posts from her treatment. I’ll need to get permission. Here is but a sample.
I …have learned that I have a “rare, aggressive cancer” called clear cell Ovarian cancer and before you ask, no, it is not a “good” cancer. Rare and unique. Like so many other things in my life over the years. The prognosis is sketchy and the past weeks have been a roller coaster of terrible news and hope, recycled.
If we could all only see how beautiful God has made each of us we could spend more time making a difference in the world with all he has given us. Friends! If you only could see you as I see each of you! You are beautiful. I digress.
Today we learned all sorts of things including the fact that I have blood clots in my lungs (mistakenly diagnosed as a fever at the Er with my elevated heart rate and… hot flashes!!! Blood clots! Seriously!) and I need a blood transfusion for low hemoglobin. All of my blood counts are apparently wackadoodle.
I don’t know when or how my story here will end but I know where my hope lies (in Jesus) and what comes after all of this. I know who created me and when my time here is done who I will spend eternity with. I know the great physician and he has peace and love and provides healing for every spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical ailment, although often not in the ways our finite minds can imagine or ask for. I will continue to ask him for a big miracle! I will continue to put my faith in him and will embrace however he finishes my story, resting in his peace.
That’s Jennifer, living in the light, embracing whatever.
Jesus’ words about a lamp glowing brightly, and the eye being the light of the body are beautiful words, but a bit mysterious to me. I wonder if Christ is simply saying: pay attention to your vision, your viewpoint, your attitude to the world around you. It is not actually about what your two eyes see. Even a sightless person has a viewpoint, and way of seeing the world, so to speak. Do you see hope?
Frederick Beuchner wrote: Christianity is mainly wishful thinking. Even the part about Judgment and Hell reflects the wish that somewhere the score is being kept.
Sometimes wishing is the wings the truth comes true on.
Sometimes the truth is what sets us wishing for it.
(Wishful Thinking, 1973, p. 96)
The LORD spoke through Isaiah: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
Jesus said, I am the light of the world.
He also said, You are the light of the world.
Perhaps, if your heart and soul have walked in darkness, you too shall see a great light.
Prayer after the sermon: Come to us, Great Light, shine upon us, light us up inside, and glow from our lives as we walk in this world.
For the light you have given us today, we simply praise You.
If there have been any things that hid Your light, disperse them and help us forget them.
When we need to find our way, show us that You, the Guide, are near, are here.
When someone else needs help to light their way, send us to them.
Acts 8:27 So he [Philip] got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.
Creator God, who has made us all in Your image, glory and praise to You, today, for all You have made me to be. I honour You for giving me the fellowship of the Church in the world. I thank You for the high privilege of sharing good news with people of every variety that I may meet. This weekend, I ask You to bless the people of the St. Mary’s Bay Baptist Church. Let their worship and their ministry be energized.
Christ, whose arms spread wide upon the Cross, I think today of of how You want to reach every person, no matter how well they fit the traditional cultural scene. Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Let there be comfort and grace for all who mourn the loss of someone destroyed because others thought them too different. Break down the prejudice and hatred that grows among people, and teach us to love beyond all bounds. In Your name. Amen.