December 30, 2014

Fast away the old year passes…

With you I give thanks for the memory of these members and friends who died in the year gone by. They inspired and encouraged us and now they remain near us as part of the Great Cloud of Witnesses – Virginia Cheatham, Robert Daskam, Richard Ice, Shirley Jones, Fannye Leary, Mary Lysmer, Sylvia Lee, Maxwell Powers, John Small, Ruth Smith, Lillian Stewart and Hershall Vinson.

In January 2015 I will preach a four-Sunday sermon series titled “Four Essential Prayers For the Year Ahead.”   In the Transmitter you will receive on Saturday I say of this series:

In times of uncertainty we do well to turn to God in prayer. Almost innately, we sense that this is a helpful thing to do. Yet, when we turn to God, how are we to pray? Certainly, the Lord’s Prayer offers timeless instruction. There are, however, other prayers in the Bible which model for us how we may , in healthy ways, turn to God .

The four prayers I want to lift up are:

1. The Prayer of Manoah (Samson’s father) in Judges 13:8-10. Upon learning that Samson was to be born Manoah prays, “Teach us what we are to do.”

2. The Prayer of Rebekah (the mother of Jacob and Esau) in Genesis 25:22. Pregnant with the feuding twins and aware that even in the womb they were contending with one another she prays, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?””

3. The Prayer of Moses in Deuteronomy 3:25. The people have been in the wilderness a long time, sensing that the moment to enter the Promised Land will soon be upon them Moses prays, “Let me cross over to see the good land.”

4. The Prayer of Daniel in Daniel 9:18. In the face of a great national crisis Daniel prays, “We do not present our supplication before you on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of your tender mercies.”

I look forward to this study of prayer with you. If nothing else may it encourage us to be a praying people in 2015, a people continually welcoming God into the center of our lives.

January 4 is Epiphany Sunday, the first Sunday of our participation in the Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering as well as  Communion Sunday. After worship I invite you to stay for a half an hour and help take the Christmas decorations down. I look forward to worshiping with you.

A Prayer for the New Year

May the nourishment of the earth be yours, May the clarity of the light be yours, May the fluency of the ocean be yours, May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

From “A Blessing For the New Year” by John O’Donohue

(I have Jury Duty in U.S. District Court in early January so I may be difficult to reach. Please contact the Church Office (510-893-2484) if you are in need of pastoral care.)