Located in South Tampa and witnessing to the love of God for over 90 years. Committed to a neighborhood presence, worldwide outreach and a deep heritage of Christian faith.

From The Pastor’s Desk-December 2015

As we enter the Advent and Christmas season, I’m drawn to encouraging you to consider including in it a specific emphasis on prayer. Advent is the season to prepare our hearts and minds to receive the gift of God’s presence. In addition to preparing with decorating, gift buying and festive eating (all Christmas activities I enjoy), I think we are wise to bring intentionality to prayer in Advent as well.

Consider as an Advent practice:

  • Praying every morning before your feet hit the ground this sentence: “O God, this day, guide me to prepare myself in some way for the coming of your presence in Christ.”
  • Stopping each time you enter your home and praying: “Even as I enter here O Lord, help me to open the door to your presence within as well.”
  • Lighting a candle before each dinner, accompanying the candle lighting with this prayer: “God of love, help us welcome Christ to this table as an act of welcoming Christ as Lord of our lives.”
  • As you lay your head down on the pillow each night for sleep, consider this prayer: “Loving God, you came to Joseph and the Magi in dreams; may my dreams tonight guide my heart and soul closer to the Christ child.”

Joanna Harader has written this “Bidding Prayer” which includes lighting the four candles of the Advent wreath as a portion of the prayer:

“Holy One, be the light in our darkness tonight.

As we have lit the candle of hope, we pray for those who feel hopeless . . .

As we have lit the candle of peace, we pray for all victims of violence . . .

As we have lit the candle of joy, we pray for those whose hearts are weighed down by sorrow . . .

As we have lit the candle of love, we pray for those who do not feel loved, for those who struggle to love others . . .

Holy One, be the light in our darkness tonight, that we might reflect your light into the dark corners of our world. Amen.”

It’s a good thing to pray in silence as well. Heaven knows the bustle of Christmas is blessed by intentional silence. Try following one of these prayers with two minutes of silence, even one minute. After all, how does the Carol go: “Silent Night, Holy Night?” What did the night wind say to the little lamb: “Do you hear what I hear?”

I think it’s a helpful practice to share in extended prayer, but don’t let the failure to achieve the heroic cause you to miss the repeated benefit of the simple, particularly in prayer.

Prayerfully all the way until Christmas, (and then some),

Pastor John

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