Sunday, April 14, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Sunday

Third Sunday of Easter, April 14, 2013
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Acts 9:1-10; Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11-14; and John 21:1-19

Today is a day of rest and worship.  Allow the readings to guide your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Saturday

Saturday, April 13, 2013
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 30, Genesis 18:1-8, and Luke 14:12-14

How often do we actually do what Jesus says to do in today’s passage?  How often do we actually invite others, who cannot repay us, to share meals with us?Is Jesus only talking about “fellowship suppers”, or could he be referring to the Eucharist as well?  How might you carry out his commandments in this area?

Ask God to show you some people whom you need to invite to dinner.  Carry though with it.  Be aware: Jesus spent time with some very “undesirable” people!  He will expect you to do the same.  Look past the outward appearance and look at the heart.  You may find the following prayer helpful:
Father, you judge us not by our outward appearance but by our hearts.  Grant us grace to follow your example, and the example of your Son Jesus Christ, as we seek to break bread with others; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Friday

Friday, April 12, 2013
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 30, Isaiah 6:1-4, and Revelation 4

Both of our readings show heavenly worship.  Note the similarities between the two.  Note also the differences.  Each writer describes things differently, and each notices different details. 

In both instances, God is shown as being on a throne, surrounded by angelic beings.  We reflect this in our Eucharistic liturgy when we say, “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.  Hosanna in the highest.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”

Worship can take many forms.  For instance, some prefer ancient liturgies, while others prefer more contemporary forms of worship.  Instead of fighting over differences of opinion or complaining that the worship service at our church is not what we would prefer, we need to ask God how he would prefer to be worshiped.  Often God calls us out of our comfort zone.  Remember: worship is a sacrifice.  It is giving something that you value to God.  You may find the following prayer helpful:
God, teach us to worship you as you want to be worshiped.  Help us to look outside of our experiences and preferences and look at you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Thursday


Thursday, April 11, 2013
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.
Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 30, Isaiah 5:11-17, and Revelation 3:14-22

Today’s passage is not too pleasant, but in a different way from yesterday’s and Tuesday’s.  While the past two days talk about our faith being tested, today’s New Testament passage deals with a church that was just floating along, doing the bare minimum to stay afloat.  They were having plenty of fellowship suppers. They read the Sunday School lesson every week.  They even managed to make it to choir practice once in a while.  But Jesus is not pleased with the bare minimum.  He does not want us to just go with the flow.  He wants us to live in the richness of the resurrection.  He wants us to get up and get to work.  He wants us to stop being so inwardly-focused that we forget about the very people he has sent us to disciple.  If we don’t make these changes, he will vomit us out of his mouth – not a happy thought!

Take some time to ask God to show you some areas where you have been lazy.  Then, ask him how to do better.  Ask him for the grace to make the changes you need, and the strength to continue on once the changes are made.  He will help you.  You may find the following prayer helpful:
Almighty and everlasting God, you have called us to be a living sacrifice.  Show us those things within ourselves which displease you, and grant us the grace to make the changes we need to make; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Wednesday

Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 122; Esther 9:1-5, 18-23; and Luke 12:4-12

Although Jesus spoke these words years before the ones recorded in Revelation 2 (yesterday’s passage), they are still a perfect follow-up to what we covered yesterday.  Jesus is telling us not to fear death or torture.  Instead, we should live with boldness.  We should not be afraid of what others think; instead, we should allow the Holy Spirit to speak through us in our words and especially our actions.

Are you willing to give your very life for Jesus?  Think about that for a moment – it’s not a light decision.  This is not something we accept until tough times hit.  It’s all or nothing.  Ask God to give you the grace to accept the challenge.  Write your own prayer.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday

Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 122, Esther 8:1-17, and Revelation 2:8-11

“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer.”  Doesn’t sound very encouraging, does it?  Yet Jesus goes on to say that a crown awaits those who remain faithful until death.

We often like to remain on the mountain top, basking in the euphoria of the resurrection.  However, Christ calls us to descend back into the valley to test the things we have changed within ourselves.  This valley is different from the one we experienced during Lent, and yet it is similar.  Life is a continuing cycle of valley journeys and relatively brief mountaintop experiences.  Each time we reach a peak, God bids us to descend down the other side into a new adventure.

Like we discovered last week, God expects us to live the life that we have promised him we would live.  Take a moment to ask God to help you do that. You may find the following prayer helpful:
Almighty God, who has called us to lead holy lives and to continually grow deeper: Grant us grace and strength to be a living sacrifice and to live in accord with your holy will this day; through  Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Monday

Monday, April 8, 2013 – The Annunciation (Transferred)
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Isaiah 7:10-14, Luke 1:46-56, Hebrews 10:5-10, and Luke 1:26-38

The Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary is the celebration of the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would give birth to the Son of God.  It is usually celebrated on March 25, but this year was unique.  Since it fell during Holy Week, and since both Holy Week and Easter Week take precedence over any other holy days or observances, it was transferred to today.

St. Iraneous (c.130-202) believed that the Annunciation fell on the same day of the year as Jesus’ passion.  He reckoned it to be March 25th.  Further, it is exactly nine months until Christmas Day, which is the celebration of Jesus’ birth.  Although we don’t believe that Jesus was actually born on December 25th (some scholars point to sometime around September 21, 11BCE), March 25 is as good a day to celebrate the Annunciation as any.

The northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox generally falls on or around March 21st – the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere.  Because of that, the Annunciation marked the new year in many places, including England.

Mary was obedient to God, even though it was going to cost her.  People were going to talk bad about her.  She might even be stoned.  Joseph might not understand what was going on.  Yet she accepted the job God gave her.  Could you do the same?

Take some time to pray about this.  If you can, memorize her song.  You may use it as a prayer, or song of praise.  You may also find the following prayer helpful:
Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Sunday

Second Sunday of Easter, April 7, 2013
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Acts 5:27-32; Psalm 150; Revelation 1:4-8; and John 20:13-21

Today is a day of rest and worship.  Allow the readings to guide your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Saturday

Easter Saturday, April 6, 2013
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 150, 1 Samuel 17:32-51, and Luke 24:36-40

Jesus comes into our midst and shows us his hands and feet.  He bids us to be peaceful.  He bids us to live up to his example.  “They’ll know you are Christians by your love.”

Take a moment to look at Jesus’ scars.  He, through his death, has given you life.  Thank God for that gift.  You may find the following prayer helpful:
We thank you, heavenly Father, that you have delivered us from the dominion of sin and death and brought us into the kingdom of your Son; and we pray that, as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his love he may raise us to eternal joys; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Friday

Easter Friday, April 5, 2013
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 150, 1 Samuel 17:19-32, and Acts 5:17-26

St. Luke writes about how the Apostles, despite being thrown into jail and threatened with death, go right back to preaching in the temple.  They are not concerned about what the authorities think, but about being obedient to Christ.  They are not worried about their own health and safety, but about the salvation of others.   They didn’t refuse to preach on the grounds that they didn’t like certain people.  They preached to everyone.

We tend to only focus on the people or groups of people whom we like.  “They aren’t like us; they’re not welcome here.”  We become so selfish that we end up denying Christ.  The sad part is that often we don’t even recognize that we’re crucifying him again.

Ask God to show you how to reach out to your community.  How might your gifts and graces be used to reach those who need Jesus?  How might your heart need to be resurrected?  You may find the following prayer helpful:
Almighty Father, who gave your only Son to die for our sins and to rise for our justification: Give us grace to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, so that we may always serve you in pureness of living and truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Thursday

Easter Thursday, April 4, 2013
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 150, 1 Samuel 17:1-23, and Acts 5:12-16

Today’s passage in Acts talks about how the power of God rested on the Apostles.  Many people were healed of sickness, and many brought the sick out into the streets so that they might be healed when Peter’s shadow fell on them.

Imagine God’s power resting on you in such a way that your shadow had healing properties.  God can and will allow his power to flow through you in much the same way.  In order for that to happen, though, we have to give ourselves completely to God – even our very identities.  Ask God to show you how to accomplish that.  You may find the following prayer helpful:
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Wednesday

Easter Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 2 Samuel 6:1-15; and Luke 24:28-35

After Jesus had proclaimed the Word to the two disciples, he joined them for dinner.  They recognized him when he broke the bread and blessed it.  In like manner, the Church has traditionally celebrated the Eucharist after the service of the Word.  Notice how often the Gospel writers mention Jesus sharing bread with people, especially in the days following his resurrection.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, taught that Holy Communion is a means of grace, a way for God to work within us.  Christ is truly present in the consecrated elements of bread and juice or wine – we cannot explain how; it is a mystery – and by receiving the elements we are receiving Christ into ourselves all over again.  Wesley received Communion often – as many as four times per week – and expected other Methodists to do the same.  Compare that to today, when most Methodist congregations receive the Sacrament only monthly or quarterly.

Christ uses the simple (bread and grape juice) to explain the complex (his death to redeem us from sin).  Take a moment to ask God to help you see the Eucharist in a new way.  You may find the following prayer helpful:
O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday


Easter Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.
Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Judges 4:17-23, 5:24-31a; and Luke 24:13-27

Jesus caught up with a couple of his disciples as they were walking toward Emmaus.  As they walked along, they were discussing the events of the past week, and especially the past few days.  Jesus had been crucified, and something had happened to the body.  Mary and some others claimed he had been resurrected from the dead, but then some others said that couldn’t be true.  When Jesus found them, they did not recognize him.  After discovering their topic, he began to teach them what the Law and Prophets contained about his resurrection.

Worship begins with the Word of God being revealed to us.  Since the earliest of times, the Church has used a basic order in worship which begins with the service of the Word.  The Word is read and proclaimed to the people, who are then expected to take the Word and live it out.  “Be doers of the Word, not hearers only,” James tells us (1:22).

The important part is that, now that we have heard God speaking to us, and now that we have responded with repentance, God has resurrected us from death in sin to life in Christ.  We must live the life that we have promised God we would live.  Take a moment to ask God to help you do that. You may find the following prayer helpful:
O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that we, who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever.  Amen.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Monday

Easter Monday, April 1, 2013
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Joshua 10:16-27, and 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8

While the discount stores are selling Easter decorations for 50-70% off, the Church’s Easter celebration is just getting underway.  The Season of Easter begins on Easter Sunday and lasts until Pentecost.  It is the oldest celebration of the church year, and one of the most important.

Paul writes to the church in Corinth that they should not live as they did before becoming believers (what he refers to as “old leaven”), but should live in the newness of Christ.  Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!  We should work to lead sinless lives, and not make the same mistakes as before.

Take a moment to reflect on the sacrifice you can offer to God.  Worship is a sacrifice.  Too many times we think that church is for us – our wants, our blessings, our desires – when actually it’s for God.  Ask God to show you what sacrifices you should be making.  You may find the following prayer helpful:
Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that we who celebrate with awe the Paschal feast may be found worthy to attain to everlasting joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.