Category Archives: Holidays and Observances

A Prayer for Father’s Day

A Prayer for Fathers on Father's Day - Your Daily Prayer - June 19

A Prayer for Fathers on Father’s Day
By Emma Danzey

Deuteronomy. 6:6-9 says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

It’s time for Father’s Day again. This is a time when we celebrate the men in our lives who have parented us, mentored us, and loved us. Whether you have had a positive or negative experience with a biological father, we can all thank God for the men who have fathered like Him and loved others as their own. Ultimately though, only God the Father Himself is the perfect dad.

Let’s Pray:

Dear Father,

We thank You for the gift of fathers. Thank you for creating the family unit. We praise You for present dads who are spiritually investing in their kids. We pray for protection from the work of the enemy in their homes. We pray that you would give these men wisdom and insight with every situation that comes their way. We ask that these men know that they are valued and seen. We pray for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We pray that they would be men of integrity to model You. We ask that you would give them patience, compassion, and mercy. 

God, we pray for men who are parenting alone. Would you help them to know that You are near? Give them strength to love like You. We pray for men who have abandoned their homes. Please transform their hearts by the power of Your Holy Spirit to repentance. Bring them to a healthy place and help reconciliation occur. We pray over those men who are not biological fathers but have stepped into someone’s life as a father. Would you bless them and help them to feel loved and accepted in this role. Guide them with Your Spirit to make decisions that would honor and point to You. Please be with fathers who have regrets. Help them not to focus too much on the past, but to humbly ask forgiveness, live in the present, and work toward the future. Please comfort the fathers who have lost children. Help them to mourn and grieve in the safety of Your arms. 

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 reminds us that fathers are to actively share Your gospel to their children each day. Your Word is so important in the home. We pray that fathers will hide Your Word in their hearts. We pray that they would share these truths with their kids. We pray that they would regularly model faith and teach the gospel in their homes.

Lord, You say in Psalm 103:13. “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.” Please enable fathers to have compassion for their children. Help them to remember how much mercy and kindness You have shown to them. 

Psalm 127:3-5 says, “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.” God, You tell us that fatherhood is a heritage and a reward from You. Children are a blessing and a joy to have in life. Help fathers everywhere remember that this role comes with a lot of responsibility, but a lot of blessings too. Amen.

Blessed is the man, inspirational image

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

Why do we observe Ash Wednesday?

One Wednesday a year, sometime in February or March, you notice people at work, school, or elsewhere with a smudge on her forehead. Then you remember it is Ash Wednesday and they must have received the imposition of ashes.

This practice we use to mark the first day of Lent may seem odd. People go to church mid-week to have a cleric place dirt on their foreheads.

In the early days of the church, it was even more dramatic. Pastors did not dip their thumbs into the ashes to draw the shape of a cross on your forehead. Instead, they poured or sprinkled ashes over your head.

Under other circumstances, most would run from the filth of ashes. Yet we participate in this practice that is growing in popularity. In fact, the receiving of ashes seems to connect with all sorts of people.

The Rev. Kim Kinsey applies ashes outside of her church building.

The Rev. Kim Kinsey offers ashes to a youth on the sidewalk outside of Christ United Methodist Church in Albuquerque, NM. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Kim Kinsey.

Why ashes?

In “A Service for Worship for Ash Wednesday” in the United Methodist Book of Worship, two suggestions of what worship leaders may say as they make the sign of the cross on another’s forehead are offered: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” and “Repent, and believe the gospel.” Each points to an aspect of what the ashes represent.

Remember that you are dust…

Ashes were an ancient symbol of our humanity. In Genesis, we read that God formed human beings out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). The Hebrew word translated dust, is occasionally translated ashes elsewhere.

When Abraham felt the need to acknowledge the difference between him, a human being, and the infinite God, he referred to himself as dust and ashes. “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord,” he said, “I who am but dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27).

…and to dust you shall return

Our humanity also calls to mind our mortality.

After expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the first humans are told by God, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19 NRSV). A sobering thought for each of us.

Ancient people wore ashes as a sign of mourning. For example, Mordecai puts on sackcloth and ashes to grieve the many deaths he sees coming from an order King Ahasuerus gives to kill all Jewish people (Esther 4:1-3). The prophet Jeremiah later calls the people of God to “roll in ashes” as a way of mourning the coming devastation from an opposing army (Jeremiah 6:26).

Receiving the imposition of ashes is a powerful way to confront our humanity and mortality. They remind us that we are not God, but God’s good creation. In them we recognize that our bodies will not last forever, and come face-to-face with the reality of our eventual death.

Repent…

Ashes also signify our sorrow for the mistakes we have made. People in ancient times wore sackcloth and ashes as a way of expressing their repentance of their sins.

When Jonah reluctantly preached to the people of Nineveh after the giant fish spit him up on the beach, the King and his people put on sackcloth and sat in ashes. God saw this act of repentance and spared the people (Jonah 3:1-10).

In the New Testament, Jesus warms the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida saying, “if the miracles done among you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have changed their hearts and lives and put on funeral clothes and ashes a long time ago.” (Matthew 11:21 CEB).

The dried palms from the previous Palm Sunday are burned to make the ashes for Ash Wednesday. Photo by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications.

On Ash Wednesday, we confront our sin. We recognize our inability to live up to all God has created us to be, and our need to be forgiven. No matter how far we have come in our spiritual journeys, each of us has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

The palms waved the previous Palm Sunday to welcome Jesus as our King, are burned to form the ashes. In a sense, they serve as a reminder of how far we fall short of living up to the glory of Christ. 

…and believe the gospel

While this all may sound fatalistic, it is not the end of the story. Lent leads to Easter, the day we celebrate that though our bodies are temporary and our lives are flawed, a day of resurrection will come when we will live in the presence of God forever.

One Wednesday every year we worship to remember who we are, and hopeful of who we can be.

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐨𝐩𝐞. 𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐠𝐨 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐡 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡. 𝐖𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐰𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞 𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐞𝐰 𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐫 𝐚 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐨𝐩𝐞. 𝐖𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐰𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞 𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐣𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐚 𝐛𝐞𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐬𝐲𝐦𝐩𝐡𝐨𝐧𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐝. 𝐖𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐰𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞 𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐭𝐨𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫, 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐫𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐨𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫, 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐠𝐠𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐨𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫, 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐭𝐨 𝐣𝐚𝐢𝐥 𝐭𝐨𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫, 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐮𝐩 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐝𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐨𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐲.

A Prayer for Those Who Grieve at Christmas

By: Dena Johnson

“The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10 NASB

I’ve spent the last eight months doing everything I can to keep my faith strong, to trust God. But this week, I am losing the battle. I am collapsing under the weight of this year.

rejoice-emmanuel

The last few days, I find myself simply falling apart. I can’t hold back the tears for another moment. I can’t put a smile on my face and pretend I am doing just fine. I can’t hold in the grief that is filling every inch of my being.

Perhaps you understand. Perhaps you too feel as if this year has been a nightmare, destroying your peace and security. Perhaps you feel as if your very life is crumbling, collapsing. Perhaps you can no longer hold in the tears, no longer pretend everything is just fine.

If you are consumed by grief this Christmas, you are not alone. Can we just take a moment to pray?

Lord Jesus,

I am so overwhelmed. My heart is heavy, burdened. The losses this year are crushing me, overcoming my peace and joy. I know you tell us you are close to the brokenhearted, but I don’t feel you. I feel lost, hopeless, abandoned.

I know this is a season, a season that has a beginning and an end. But right now it feels like it will never end. I need hope, hope to believe you will truly restore me, strengthen me. I need hope to believe you will one day have me put together and on my feet for good. I need a vision of the future you have for me, a future of hope and blessings from you.

It’s so easy to become distracted, to focus on the many losses I have experienced. Forgive me. Help me to put my thoughts, my attention on you. Help me cling to you, to your word, to your promises. Help me be fixed on you because I know it’s the only way to enjoy your perfect peace.

As I walk through this holiday season, give me a fresh glimpse of who You are. Help me remember the suffering You experienced as You watched your Son on the cross, a gift given just for me. Help me remember with joy and wonder the amazing gifts we have simply because you gave, a precious baby born that Christmas morning. Help me focus my heart and mind on Immanuel, God with me.

You are my hope, my only hope, for Christmas and every day on this earth. May I always carry your hope with me.

In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

It’s a Miracle!

Do You Believe in Christmas Miracles?
By Lynette Kittle

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). — Matthew 1:23

Have you noticed how many Christmas movies focus on receiving a Christmas miracle?

Although many center on Santa Claus making things happen, still Christmas is portrayed as a time for long-awaited hopes and dreams to be fulfilled.

Rightly so, too, because Christmas is all about miracles!

It’s a celebration of the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus, God come to earth in human form, to live among mankind and save people from their sins. What could be more miraculous than that?

So how do you approach Christmas? Are you hoping for God to do the impossible in your life? Do you believe what Jesus said, that all things are possible with God? (Mark 10:27)

If you aren’t expecting God to do the impossible at Christmas or any other time of the year, perhaps it’s because of past disappointments, of times where you had great hope and anticipation but didn’t see your prayers answered?

If so, ask God to renew your expectancy in Him, to revive your faith despite your disappointments. Choose to base what you believe about God on what Scripture says about Him, rather on past discouraging experiences.

If former letdowns are holding you back from having faith in God, James 1:6 encourages you to believe with all your heart and not doubt God because doubt inhibits the impossible.

Scripture explains what happened when Jesus visited His hometown and the residents doubted Him. Their disbelief effected what they were able to receive from Jesus. As Matthew 13:58 explains, “And He did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”

If you’re lacking faith in believing God is able to do the impossible, ask Him to increase your faith. Hebrews 11:1 explains, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Consider how everything you see created was once impossible without God. As John 1:3 explains, “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.”

As Jeremiah 32:17 describes, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.”

Colossians 1:16 further describes, “For in Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

At Christmas and all year long, choose to believe that nothing is too difficult for God to bring about in your life by stepping out in faith and asking Him to transform your impossibilities into possibilities.

Hail the Incarnate Deity

~Charles Swindoll

On that still winter’s night, something was up… something extraordinary… something supernatural. The shepherds raced to the City of David and found their Savior, just as the angel had said… swaddled and lying in a feeding trough. This was the Promised One, the Messiah! God had finally come to dwell with His people, but in such an unexpected way.

Just who was this holy Child the shepherds gazed upon? Make no mistake: He was incarnate deity. The newborn Jesus existed in eternity past as God the Son. He was coequal, coeternal, and coexistent with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. However, Jesus relinquished the privileges and the pleasures of His existence in heaven when He took upon Himself the limitations of humanity (Philippians 2:6-7). In emptying Himself, Jesus voluntarily set aside the prerogatives and prerequisites of life as He had known it, an existence He had enjoyed; He released His right to that kind of life, saying to the Father, “I will go.”

Go where? To Bethlehem. He took “the form of a bond-servant, and [was] made in the likeness of men.” Allow yourself to picture what the shepherds saw. There He is, the baby. Do you see His ten fingers and ten toes? His button nose? Can you hear the cries? There’s humanity. In this holy infant is the beginning of an earthly life. Look deep into His eyes and see the beginning of life itself.

Later, this divine man, completely unique in His nature and in the perfect life that He lived, “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Isn’t that amazing? Of all ways to die, He died on a cross—the most humiliating and painful kind of death.

God the Son lowered Himself. He took on the flesh of an infant. He died a humiliating death. As a result, God the Father “highly exalted Him.” One day, all will bow in worship of the risen Lord, “to the glory of God the Father.”

It’s all about His glory. What a plan. What an execution. What a perfect, awesome wrapping! The God-man. Jesus is undiminished deity and true humanity, two distinct natures in one person, forever. That’s the baby in the manger!

See Isaiah 7:14 and Philippians 2:5-11.

The baby in the manger is undiminished deity and true humanity, two distinct natures in one person, forever.

-Charles Swindoll

Juneteenth

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.  Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or none of these versions could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question.  Whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

General Order Number 3

One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

@www.juneteenth.com

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former ‘masters’ – attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom. North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territories. The celebration of June 19th was coined “Juneteenth” and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.