January 2017


Friday, Jan. 6: Feast of the Epiphany              Read Matthew 2:1-12

from Thaddaeus Allen, Regional Minister and President:

The Church through our Middle East Initiative of Global Ministries sent me to Bethlehem recently.  There were other stops, but today Bethlehem is before us.  It was moving to be in the place where Jesus was born.  Like the wise men’s was, ours was a journey of distance.  Like the wise men, we were not locals.  Like the wise men experienced, there was a palpable sense of both joy and deep reverence that I experienced.  It was moving to meet with our Global Mission Partners who are doing such important work in the land of Jesus’ birth.  Sadly, the work being done is not always received as a special guest, and it is often treated as an unwanted foreigner.

I am touched by the ways in which our partners give gifts and find other roads if needed to steward the gospel in their midst.  The treasure chests of the church are opened wider because of our witness in Bethlehem.  When we came to the place where Jesus born, like the wise men, we could not help but kneel down and pay homage.  Today is a day to be overwhelmed with joy.

O Revealed Christ, make your presence known in our world today, beginning with our lives and the life of your beloved Church.  Bring light to all through the gifts we have been given in your coming.  We offer ourselves, our very best, to you.  Amen.

 

We express our gratitude to the ministers of the regions who have offered their devotional thoughts and prayers through this project, which is sustained by your gifts to the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministry.  To contribute to the offering, please visit the following pages:  Supporting the PA Region   or    Supporting the WV Region  Gifts received by Jan. 6 will be credited to your congregation for 2016 in Yearbook Reporting.

Prayerscapes is published by the Christian Church in West Virginia and the Christian Church in Pennsylvania for the not-for-profit distribution of their members and friends in the ecumenical church.  ©2016. All Rights Reserved.

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Thursday, Jan. 5         Read Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

from David Chafin, Deputy Regional Minister and Vice President, and Pastor of United Christian Church, California, PA:

It is amazing how desperately the people of God, once given a royal ruler, looked to see that king exalted above the other kings of earth. They would have their nation raised up as a beacon for the rest of the world to honor, even as God had promised that they would have such honors by the very nature of God being their Sovereign and Lord.  Yet the psalmist is wise to point out, for Israel and for us, that the nature of the one who rules with justice, compassion, and mercy for the most vulnerable of the land – and not with favor for the most powerful or wealthy – will be the one who brings honor.  That ruler who models himself or herself after the Sovereign Lord is the one worth watching, worth lifting up, worth honoring.  So it is with the nation.  So might it be, in these days of great change, for even us…God’s people in a strange time, in a strange land, and looking into an unknown future.  May we seek the best, lead with our best, offer our best to God and to the nations.

Be our one true Lord, O God.  Guide us, and all those around us, to follow the example of your leadership – which gently leads, which lovingly heals, which upholds the weak, which saves the suffering.  Make us your people, and our world your world. Amen.

We express our gratitude to the ministers of the regions who have offered their devotional thoughts and prayers through this project, which is sustained by your gifts to the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministry.  To contribute to the offering, please visit the following pages:  Supporting the PA Region   or    Supporting the WV Region  Gifts received by Jan. 6 will be credited to your congregation for 2016 in Yearbook Reporting.

Prayerscapes is published by the Christian Church in West Virginia and the Christian Church in Pennsylvania for the not-for-profit distribution of their members and friends in the ecumenical church.  ©2016. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, Jan. 4      Read Isaiah 60:1-6

from Darrell Pierce, Clarksburg, WV:

No matter what the dream, Jesus is the answer.  Isaiah dreamed of joy in freedom for an enslaved people, but Jesus was the answer to that dream.  He dreamed of a great nation, but Jesus was the answer.  Wealth and power and joy are found in Jesus.  God inspired the prophets to see promises of what they thought would be a perfect future, but the perfect future was always to be found in Jesus.
Verses 1 and 6b have Messianic language that we recognize, but we may not recognize that the rest is Messianic language as well.  The prophets looked forward to some kind of perfection, but they did not know that the perfection would be found in a special man born of a virgin who would be the very Son of God.  We know that, but sometimes forget and look for that perfection in the wrong places.  This season gives us a chance to refocus on real perfection: the One born in a stable.
Jesus, may we lay aside our earthly dreams, live our lives in you, and find what we really want and need. Amen.

We express our gratitude to the ministers of the regions who have offered their devotional thoughts and prayers through this project, which is sustained by your gifts to the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministry.  To contribute to the offering, please visit the following pages:  Supporting the PA Region   or    Supporting the WV Region  Gifts received by Jan. 6 will be credited to your congregation for 2016 in Yearbook Reporting.

Prayerscapes is published by the Christian Church in West Virginia and the Christian Church in Pennsylvania for the not-for-profit distribution of their members and friends in the ecumenical church.  ©2016. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, Jan. 3           Read Psalm 8

from W. Darwin Collins, Christian Church Foundation, and Pastor Emeritus, Central Christian Church, Uniontown, PA:

How was 2016 for you? And what is your outlook for the New Year ahead? It’s largely a matter of perspective.  If the old year brought you an unexpected loss or a surprising disappointment, you begin this year of 2017 with a perspective directed toward personal hurts and pain. Conversely, if your old year brought a joyous surprise or a hopeful promise of personal improvement, your eyes might be directed toward opportunities and hope. I believe for most of us, it is a combination of those two opposite extremes, a mixture of good and bad, so our perspective might be directed with some skepticism mixed with hope.

 

I would offer to us, seeking to be faithful believers, another perspective: the psalmist remedy at the beginning a new day or year is to look skyward. For if we turn our perspective toward the handiwork of God and God’s constant blessings, we discover that highest on the list of God’s achievements is us! In our disappointments and joys one assurance is constant:  God has blessed us above all, and holds us the most cherished!

 

“O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Amen.

 

Monday, Jan. 2            Read Ephesians 1:3-14

from Charles Consagra, First Christian Church, Scranton, PA:

Over the past year, I have had to console and pray with family members whose father, mother, son, or daughter is suffering from pancreatic, lung, or brain cancer.  These conditions have a poor survival rate and take a severe physical toll, both in the disease process and in the treatment regimes.  To these individuals I have often said, “Do not waste your illness.”

 

St. Paul, in writing to the Ephesian community from a Roman jail, and knowing full well that he would ultimately face his own gruesome death, never wasted time feeling that he had been abandoned by God.  Rather, he used his condition to celebrate the great blessing that we belong to Christ, and no matter what pain or hardship we suffer, we are at all times part of a Divine plan.

 

Help me to see your purpose for me in the midst of my hardships, not as a curse from you, but as the opportunity for me to grow closer to you, O God. Amen.

 

1st Sunday of Christmas, New Year’s Day, 2017         

Read Matthew 25:31-46

from Jerry Griffin, Lititz, PA:

In this text, the Gospel writer focuses on the art of being non-judgmental.  He equates Jesus with a shepherd who divides his flock based on standards and values.

 

By human nature, our temptation is to focus on the stereotypical differences regarding sheep and goats.  The advantage goes to the sheep who are deemed to be cuddly, soft and social.  The opposite is true for goats.  They are perceived as frisky scavengers who eat anything within reach, romp, climb and butt.

 

On the other hand, Matthew offers a totally different standard.  He proclaims that the act of division occurs with a focus on the commitment, trust, faith and loyalty of the followers or “missioners” in the name of the Son of Man.

 

Today, we begin a new year which is often perceived as a time for personal transformation.  Our mission is to accept our inheritance in the “kingdom prepared for us.” [verse 34] The manner with which we gain this endowment is to be openly accepting, loving and indiscriminate as we carry out our mission of service.  Consequently, we have successfully served our Lord through serving “the least of these brothers [and sisters] of mine.”  [verse 40]

 

Guide me, Good Shepherd, as I commit myself to serve others without being judgmental.  Amen

We express our gratitude to the ministers of the regions who have offered their devotional thoughts and prayers through this project, which is sustained by your gifts to the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministry.  To contribute to the offering, please visit the following pages:  Supporting the PA Region   or    Supporting the WV Region  Gifts received by Jan. 6 will be credited to your congregation for 2016 in Yearbook Reporting.

Prayerscapes is published by the Christian Church in West Virginia and the Christian Church in Pennsylvania for the not-for-profit distribution of their members and friends in the ecumenical church.  ©2016. All Rights Reserved.