"If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land". II Chronicles 7:14-15
Heal our land? Oh yes! Please Lord! We are starting this new year, still weary and reeling from the events of the old year. I suspect most of us are tired, discouraged, impatient, confused, and maybe disheartened about the state of the world, the condition of our country, and the upheaval, constraints, and loss in our personal lives. And into this God cries, “I will forgive your sin and heal your land.” What good news! Oh, but there are some ifs. If MY people who are called by MY name – I think that means us Christians. If WE will humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways – who us? Wicked? Seems a bit strong. Hmmm, but maybe not, if I’m really honest. So, God offers us a wonderful promise of hope, healing, restoration for this new year……IF. Sounds like He’s saying it begins right here in my heart and yours.
Prayer - God of hope and healing, thank you for your amazing call on our lives to follow you. What an incredible gift to be called “your children”, to be the people who are called by your name! What an awesome privilege that you have made us your partners in redeeming this broken world. And thank you that you have promised to empower and give us the desire to do those things that you ask - humble ourselves, confess our sins, and turn from anything that doesn’t please and honor you. In the name of Jesus, who showed us what this looks like, we offer this.
Written by Nancy Kocurek, Elder at WHPC
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. I Corinthians 13:4-8a
Moving into a new year always involves a bit of mystery. You cannot know exactly what to expect or what might happen. But whatever comes, there will be ample opportunity to love. Every year I ask God to show me ways new ways to love and new opportunities to grow in love. God has never failed to honor that request!
Prayer - Lord teach me to love as you love. Help me to stretch my heart and soul to give in ways I don’t know possible. Allow me to see others and to see myself through the eyes of your love. Amen
Written by Stacy Ikard, Senior Associate Pastor at WHPC
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9
Some people think that the Book of Ecclesiastes expresses a cynical or pessimistic point of view. In a culture that prioritizes “what’s new” and “the next big thing,” the statement “there is nothing new under the sun” sounds negative, like something gloomy Eeyore might say to Winnie the Pooh. What I hear in these words, however, is a comforting, faithful realism. It is good to remember that what we are going through now is not unprecedented. The world has always known sorrow; it has also always known joy. Most important, God has always been in charge, holding all of reality together in holy love. We will get through the difficulties we face, just as many generations have before us, with God to help and guide us.
Prayer - Holy God, help us to trust that you are sovereign over all things, from the cosmic big picture to the hidden parts of our souls. Nothing is beyond your knowledge, control, or redemption. We give you thanks for your faithfulness and re-commit ourselves to love you and to love our neighbors today. AMEN.
Written by Claire Berry, Associate Pastor at WHPC.
"Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance". - Psalm 16:5-6
Perhaps because I had a “there but for the grace of God…” mother (an observation voiced as our family’s 1950’s transcontinental vacation road trips took us through a dusty West Texas town or past a sunbaked sharecropper settlement next to the cotton fields of the deep south), I have an ingrained sense of geographic locale and how one’s life is circumscribed in so many ways by its beginnings. I arrived at a time in history and grew up in places where my inborn potentials were mostly nurtured and life opportunities existed. Though just a few of the many writings that remind us to be thankful for and humble before God, these specific verses continue to resonate for me. By grace, I can look back on a life in which the boundaries have been generous and my inheritance bountiful.
Prayer - Lord God, I pause to reflect on the places of my life and the inheritance I was given and that I build upon in my daily living. In them, may I be again reminded of the flow of unearned grace. May I also be mindful of the many whose lots are much less secure.
Written by Bill Galloway, Member of WHPC
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. John 14:27
My greatest wish for this new year is peace. I wish for peace between warring factions in society, in families and in the church. I wish for international relations to be more beneficial for our planet and for the vulnerable. While wishing for peace is a good thing, scripture suggests that we are to prepare ourselves to receive peace from our Savior Jesus Christ. More than a wish, such peace is a promise and a calling. As this new year begins, I am reminded of Christ’s promise that real peace is always within my reach. I am also reminded of my calling to open myself to Christ’s direction and guidance instead of being led by trouble or fear.
Prayer - Jesus thank you for the gift of peace. Tune my heart to receive and to share that gift. Amen
Written by Stacy Ikard, Senior Associate Pastor at WHPC