Prayers for the Start of the School Year

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Would you join me in praying for educators and students as they start a new school year? Below you’ll find a few prayers for your quiet time. Pick a few to pray each day between now and the end of the month. The prayers are inpired by a resource called Keys to the Kingdom by Prayer Point Press. May you and your community be blessed and growing in the wonder of God’s good earth and the hope of Rabbi Jesus. Lisa <><

Covering our Community in Prayer
August Emphasis: Education

Comforting One, bring peace to all those who are feeling anxious about the first days of school. Fill them with confidence and encouragement. Amen.

Father, every good and perfect gift comes from you. Open the windows of heaven on each school in our community. Supply what they need. Help students, teachers, and administrators to use your gifts to bless others and bring you glory. Amen.

Mighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, reveal your wisdom in every teaching moment. Draw students to you as they study the wonders of your world. May your truth be evident and rise above false voices. Amen.

Gracious God, thank you for those who serve as administrative assistants, food preparers, and maintenance workers. Their example inspires us to serve others with love and humility just as Jesus did. Show us how to do all things, big or small, as unto you. Amen.

Holy Spirit, our Companion and Counselor, reveal yourself to school social workers and guidance counselors, especially when they are working with students. Give them supernatural wisdom and insight. Use them to enlighten, encourage, and confirm your purpose in young lives. Amen.

Jesus our Savior, raise up Godly role models in our schools. Give them courage to live both humbly and boldly for you. Empower them to be wholesome examples in speech, life, faith, and purity. Let their light shine for you. Amen.

Creative One, thank you for those who sacrifice their time to help with extracurricular activities. Bless them with joy and enthusiasm. Help them see good and lasting fruit from their labor. Amen.

Loving God, your joy is our strength. Fill classrooms and administrative offices with delight and hope. Help educators, students and parents to see you at work and to give you glory. Replace fatigue, frustration, and fear with joy. Amen.

Welcoming One, help every student to feel that they belong- that they are precious and important to others and to you. Protect them from teasing, isolation, bullying, discrimination, and despair. Fill them with truth and hope. Amen.

Holy Spirit, our Guide and Guardian, thank you for bus drivers, crossing guards, and police officers who work so hard to keep students safe. Protect students as they travel to and from school, field trips, and other events. Place an extra hand of protection on student drivers. Amen.

Prince of Peace, cover every school campus with your shalom. Make them safe sanctuaries of learning and growth. Guard hearts, minds, and bodies against every type of evil. Bring an end to bullying, abuse, discrimination, prejudice, and violence. Build bridges across dividing lines. Amen.

Heavenly Father, give young people a healthy attitude toward competition and achievement. Keep them from unhealthy pride, perfectionism, and from making success an idol. Amen.

Jesus you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Show students the way out when they are tempted. Keep them far from pressures which tempt them to cheat in order to get ahead. Keep them far from compromising integrity or purity in order to fit in. Give them a strong No! to sin and a resounding Yes! to wholeness and holiness. Amen.

God of the nations, thank you for the great gift of education. Thank you for making us a thinking people and for the blessings of curiosity and discovery. Bless and help developing nations to provide education for their people. Help us never to take education for granted. Amen.

Loving God, bless every home in our community.
Bring peace where there is anxiety.
Provision where there is need
Wisdom where there is confusion
Understanding where there is anger
Freedom where there is addiction
Recovery where there is illness
Reconciliation where there is division
Shalom where there is brutality
Unity where there is prejudice
Hope where there is despair
Faith where there is none

Thank you for your help and healing power
Thank you for your presence and salvation
We need you Lord Jesus, come quickly.
Amen.

Blessing College Students as They Leave for School

student college dorm

Blessing College Students as They Leave for School
We offer this blessing during worship the second Sunday in August. This is usually the last Sunday our college students are in worship before they return to school.

The students are invited to stand where they are seated. (Option: If the congregation is small enough, the students could be introduced at this time and/or given a gift.) The rest of the congregation is then invited to stand and lay a hand of support and blessing on the student closest to them.

Option: The blessing may begin with an invitation for the congregation to offer their own prayers for the students silently or aloud. The following prayer concludes the time of blessing.

ONE: Holy One,
Bless and protect these college students
as they leave us to begin another school year.

Keep them encouraged and full of hope.
Surround them with godly influences and opportunities.

Fill them with discernment,
that they may remain focused, disciplined and far from foolishness.

Grant these students the mind of Christ-
that they may grow in your wisdom and truth
that they may serve with both power and compassion
that they may carry your light throughout their campuses

Thank you for these students
and for providing the resources for them to continue their education.
Thank you for family members, friends, teachers, and coaches
who have mentored and supported them so that this day might be possible.
Thank you for creating us with the capacity to think, speak, discover and reason.
We rejoice in these good gifts from you and give you the honor and glory for them.

Receive our thanks and extend your blessing in the name of Jesus,
who saves us and leads us and teaches us to pray…

Finish with all praying The Lord’s Prayer

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Blessing College Students as They Leave for School © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

 

Prayers for the Start of the School Year

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Would you join me in praying for educators and students as they start a new school year? Below you’ll find a few prayers for your quiet time. Pick a few to pray each day between now and the end of the month. The prayers are inpired by a resource called Keys to the Kingdom by Prayer Point Press. May you and your community be blessed and growing in the wonder of God’s good earth and the hope of Rabbi Jesus. Lisa <><

Covering our Community in Prayer
August Emphasis: Education

Comforting One, bring peace to all those who are feeling anxious about the first days of school. Fill them with confidence and encouragement. Amen.

Father, every good and perfect gift comes from you. Open the windows of heaven on each school in our community. Supply what they need. Help students, teachers, and administrators to use your gifts to bless others and bring you glory. Amen.

Mighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, reveal your wisdom in every teaching moment. Draw students to you as they study the wonders of your world. May your truth be evident and rise above false voices. Amen.

Gracious God, thank you for those who serve as administrative assistants, food preparers, and maintenance workers. Their example inspires us to serve others with love and humility just as Jesus did. Show us how to do all things, big or small, as unto you. Amen.

Holy Spirit, our Companion and Counselor, reveal yourself to school social workers and guidance counselors, especially when they are working with students. Give them supernatural wisdom and insight. Use them to enlighten, encourage, and confirm your purpose in young lives. Amen.

Jesus our Savior, raise up Godly role models in our schools. Give them courage to live both humbly and boldly for you. Empower them to be wholesome examples in speech, life, faith, and purity. Let their light shine for you. Amen.

Creative One, thank you for those who sacrifice their time to help with extracurricular activities. Bless them with joy and enthusiasm. Help them see good and lasting fruit from their labor. Amen.

Loving God, your joy is our strength. Fill classrooms and administrative offices with delight and hope. Help educators, students and parents to see you at work and to give you glory. Replace fatigue, frustration, and fear with joy. Amen.

Welcoming One, help every student to feel that they belong- that they are precious and important to others and to you. Protect them from teasing, isolation, bullying, discrimination, and despair. Fill them with truth and hope. Amen.

Holy Spirit, our Guide and Guardian, thank you for bus drivers, crossing guards, and police officers who work so hard to keep students safe. Protect students as they travel to and from school, field trips, and other events. Place an extra hand of protection on student drivers. Amen.

Prince of Peace, cover every school campus with your shalom. Make them safe sanctuaries of learning and growth. Guard hearts, minds, and bodies against every type of evil. Bring an end to bullying, abuse, discrimination, prejudice, and violence. Build bridges across dividing lines. Amen.

Heavenly Father, give young people a healthy attitude toward competition and achievement. Keep them from unhealthy pride, perfectionism, and from making success an idol. Amen.

Jesus you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Show students the way out when they are tempted. Keep them far from pressures which tempt them to cheat in order to get ahead. Keep them far from compromising integrity or purity in order to fit in. Give them a strong No! to sin and a resounding Yes! to wholeness and holiness. Amen.

God of the nations, thank you for the great gift of education. Thank you for making us a thinking people and for the blessings of curiosity and discovery. Bless and help developing nations to provide education for their people. Help us never to take education for granted. Amen.

Loving God, bless every home in our community.
Bring peace where there is anxiety.
Provision where there is need
Wisdom where there is confusion
Understanding where there is anger
Freedom where there is addiction
Recovery where there is illness
Reconciliation where there is division
Shalom where there is brutality
Unity where there is prejudice
Hope where there is despair
Faith where there is none

Thank you for your help and healing power
Thank you for your presence and salvation
We need you Lord Jesus, come quickly.
Amen.

Prayer: You Save Us From Every Foe (Psalm 44:6-8)

Detail of the sculpture Fiducia in Dio (Trust in God) by Lorenzo Bartolini

Detail of the sculpture Fiducia in Dio (Trust in God) by Lorenzo Bartolini

Psalm 44:6-8 NRSV
For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes,
and have put to confusion those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever.

You save us from every foe
Those whose face we never see
Those whose face we know too well
Those without and within

You save us from every foe
Even ourselves – our own worst enemy
Who so easily misplace trust in who will save
Who can save

Who can save?
You save us from every foe
Order our minds
Our desires
Our thoughts
Order the work of our hands
The agenda of our days
Order our trust and our hope
To what is true
To you

Lord, we do not hope in ourselves, our technology, our governments, our laws, our tenacity, our courage, or our will, though all these things are all necessary to conquer hunger and provide justice. We hope in you. Amen.
– Thomas G. Petterpiece, Visions of a World Hungry

The man of the true religious tradition understands two things: liberty and obedience.
The first means knowing what you really want.
The second means knowing what you really trust.
– G.K. Chesterton, G.K.’s Weekly

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You Save Us From Every Foe © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Worship Resource: Take My Life

Horsing Around by David Pasillas

Horsing Around by David Pasillas

This worship resource was inspired by a sermon on Jesus’ blessing in Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

When we hear the word meek, we tend to think timid, passive, wimp, doormat. In Jesus’ day, the word he uses for meek actually refers to a powerful, wild animal who is now trained for work. Think of a stallion and rider, a mighty force of perfect collaboration and unity. A meek person is one who follows Jesus in a disciplined way in order to join Jesus in his saving work. Thus meek means strength under authority, power under discipline, a teachable spirit desiring God’s greater good. – Lisa <><

Worship Resource: Take My Life
ALL SINGING
Traditional Setting: Take My Life, and Let It Be
United Methodist Hymnal #399, verses 1 and 2

Contemporary Setting: Take My Life
Arranged by Chris Tomlin (CCLI #4162843)
Verses 1, 2 and chorus

Instrumental music continues under the scripture reading.

VOICE ONE: Psalm 25:4-5 NIV
Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths;
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
For you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

VOICE TWO: Psalm 25:6-7 NIV
Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love,
For they are from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways;
According to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.

VOICE ONE: Psalm 25:8-9 NIV
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

ALL SINGING
Traditional Setting: Take My Life, and Let It Be
United Methodist Hymnal #399, verse 3

Contemporary Setting: Take My Life
arranged by Chris Tomlin (CCLI #4162843)
Verses 3 and chorus

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Be sure to check out the beautiful photography of today’s featured artist David Pasillas at his blog iPhone Photographer. You will also find him on Facebook.

Worship Resource: Take My Life compilation © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Jesus, the Teacher

Jesus teaching from an illustrated Bible in Urdu, Sindhi and Parkari. Picture by Sr M Claire, The Catholic Diocese of Hyderabad / Pakistan

Matthew 11:1 (NRSV)
Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
-William Arthur Ward

The joy of teaching is more than “leaving a legacy”—a phrase which keeps the focus on the teacher and what he or she passes on. The joy of teaching is seeing students come into their own, experiencing God’s creative grace in their time and place. It is the joy in remembering (and seeing) that God is every bit as original with them as He has been with us. – Steve Harper, More Than a Legacy

Luke 20:21 (NRSV)
So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and you show deference to no one, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth.

Jesus is not a philosopher laying out a new system of disembodied belief. Jesus was a teacher whose life taught what he preached. We love and follow Jesus not simply because of what he said, but because of the way his lived, died, and was resurrected.
Willimon and Hauerwas, Lord Teach us

To put it simply, we need to let Christ, our living teacher, transform us from within, thereby changing our habits and automatic responses in the reality of this present world. The inner transformation of the “command center” of our being happens as we embark on a learning journey with rabbi Jesus, who remains alive and present in our midst. We ask the ever-living Christ to be our teacher. We immerse ourselves in his life, allow his words to shape us inwardly, and live out of his revelation as faithfully as we can.
– Trevor Hudson, Hope Beyond Your Tears

Being guided by God does not guarantee we will have perfect families, perfect jobs, perfect health, with no problems or challenges. But genuine guidance does mean we will experience basic fulfillment and renewal. It means we will feel vitally alive in our giving and receiving. It means that our lives will not be barren but fruitful. We will not be left empty, desolate, depleted. Abundance will be present at our center. The word abundance means an overflowing fullness. The root of the word is associated with undulation, a rhythmic, wavelike motion, like the flow of tides in an ocean. When we walk in God’s guidance, a full, rhythmic flow of life pulses within us.
– Flora Slosson Wuellner, Enter by the Gate

Extended quote from Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola
Jesus cannot be separated from His teachings.
Aristotle said to his disciples, “Follow my teachings.”
Socrates likewise said to his disciples, “Follow my teachings.”
Buddha said to his disciples, “Follow my meditations.”
Confucius said to his disciples, “Follow my sayings.”
And Muhammad said to his disciples, “Follow my noble pillars.”

But Jesus says to His disciples, “Follow Me.”

In all the religions and philosophies of the world, a follower can follow the teachings of its founder without having a relationship with that founder. But not so with Jesus Christ. The teachings of Jesus cannot be separated from Jesus Himself. Christ is still alive, and He embodies His teachings. This is what separates Him from every great teacher and moral philosopher in history.

John 18:37 NRSV
Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Truth is finally not something we can possess and it’s not some flimsy idea narrated by personal preference, nor is truth simply the most legitimate idea, concept or doctrine. Truth isn’t something that belongs to you. Truth is something you belong to … or more accurately someone you belong to. What is revealed in the Gospel of John is that finally Truth is a person … the way the truth the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
– Nadia Bolz-Weber,
Sermon on Thanksgiving at Pontius Pilate’s Mom’s House and Where We Belong

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For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

A Partidge in a Pear Tree by Chris Buzelli

This message was offered as an interactive sermon on December 30, 2012. It was great fun guessing what each gift might stand for and a light hearted way to encourage all of us to know what we believe as Christians. After all, we live what we believe and we can’t share what we don’t know. – Lisa <><

PS- Click for the 12 Days of Christmas Worksheet we used as a bulletin insert for making guesses and taking notes.

Let’s begin with a Christmas quiz.
1. How long is Christmas?
a)      One day- Christmas Day
b)      Two days- Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
c)      Twelve days, like the song
d)      A couple of months starting when the decorations go up in Target in mid October

2. How many presents are given in the song the 12 days of Christmas?

3. Is the song the 12 days of Christmas a secret way of teaching the basics of Christianity?

Answers:
1. For centuries, much of Christendom has celebrated Christmas as a season of 12 days. (Easter is a season, too. Its 50 days long.) Some celebrate the season of Christmas beginning Christmas Day through January 5, the eve of Epiphany (the next season in the Christian year) or December 26 through January 6.

2. There are 364 gifts given in the song, almost one for each day of the year. The trick is to remember the song is cumulative. For example, on day five you receive the five golden rings, plus four more calling birds, three more French hens, two more turtle doves, and another partridge in a pear tree. Most of the gifts are birds and people. Christians are against human trafficking, so please do not give people as gifts.

3. Probably not. Here’s where the idea came from. The song was written during a time of bloody religious persecution in England, between the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. When the Catholics were in power, they would kill the Protestants and visa versa. The idea is that the song was a hidden catechism used by Catholics to teach their children the faith when the Protestants were in power. The theory doesn’t hold much water since the doctrines associated with the song would have been held in common by both Catholics and Protestants. The disputed doctrines are not a part of the song.

Even so, the song remains a great checklist for the key understandings of the Christian faith. For example, who might be represented by the generous, loving gift giver? Scripture is clear that God is our True Love (1 John 4:7-21) and the Giver of every good gift. (James 1:17)

So what might the gifts stand for? Here are a few possibilities:

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pair tree
The first gift on the first Christmas was Jesus, the Son of God, the Word of God made flesh and blood. (John 3:16-17) The partridge and Jesus Christ are similar because both are ready to die in order to defend their children. A partridge in a pair tree could be Jesus on the cross.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtledoves.
There are many possibilities, including:

  • Adam and Eve- the origin story of how sin entered the world (Genesis 3)
  • The Old and New Testaments- the two main parts of the Bible
  • The dual nature of Jesus Christ- This is a key Christian understanding, that Jesus was fully human and fully divine simultaneously.
  • The two thieves on the cross- Jesus was crucified between two thieves. One chose to believe and the other rejected Christ. (Luke 23:32-43)

My favorite possibility ties the birds to the Christmas story. (Luke 2:22-24) When Jesus was around 40 days old, he was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem by his parents for the customary offerings for a first born son. Because Mary and Joseph were poor, they would have made the prescribed humbler offering, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Mary would have gone through a woman’s purification rites following a birth at the same time.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three French hens.
The number three also has several possibilities:

  • The Trinity- Christians understand God to be mysteriously One and yet Three. God may thus be referred to as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit or our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.
  • Jesus rose from the dead on day 3
  • Jesus’ inner circle of followers was Peter, James and John. They were the first leaders of the early church following Jesus’ return to heaven.

My favorite possibility is again tied to the Christmas story. (Matthew 2:1-12) A year or so after his birth, Jesus was visited by Magi from the east. We don’t know how many Magi made the long trip, but we do know how many gifts they brought, three. Three expensive French hens to match three expensive exotic gifts. Gold was the most precious of all metals, given because Jesus is King of kings. Frankincense was used to make incense, given because Jesus is the Great High Priest. Myrrh was an expensive spice used for burials, given because Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds.
The four calling birds remind us of the four Gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These writers of the first four books of the New Testament proclaimed the testimony of Jesus’ life and teachings. Like birds calling out with loud and distinctive voices, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John spread abroad the news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. They called people to faith in Jesus as their Savior. – Helen Haidle, The Real 12 Days of Christmas

John 20:30-31 NRSV
Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five golden rings.
Gold rings remind us of weddings. The rings symbolize the reverence of the covenant established between the couple in the sight of God. The covenant is like gold, valued and precious. It is like a ring, made with the intention to be without end.

The five golden rings most likely represent the first five books of the Bible, the Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. They are treated with great reverence and treasured by Jews and Christians alike. In these books we find the creation story, the first covenants God made with God’s people, and the story of God freeing God’s people from slavery in Egypt.

Psalm 119:103-105 NRSV
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six geese a laying.
Eggs remind us of new life. (It’s one of the reasons we color Easter Eggs) Six + new life = the six days of creation. God spoke into the nothing. That Word was so powerful and creative it brought forth a world of astounding beauty and diversity. And God said it was good.

Psalm 148:1-5 NRSV
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host! Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven swans a swimming.
Seven swans might symbolize the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in Romans 12:6-8. (There are 10-20 more spiritual gifts found in other parts of the Bible.)  Every follower of Christ is empowered by the Holy Spirit with one or more spiritual gifts. Through these gifts we are transformed, like ugly ducklings into birds of grace. No one person has every gift. This reminds us how much we need God and each other. Spiritual gifts in combination and in action are a thing of great beauty and power, bringing glory to God and blessing to others.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me eight maids a milking.
Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount with eight foundational teachings often called the Beatitudes. (Matthew 5:3-12) Jesus’ teaching nourishes and strengthens our souls in the same way mother’s milk sustains an infant. Jesus’ teaching is foundational in the same way animal milk is a foundational food in many cultures.

1 Peter 2:2-3 NRSV
Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine ladies dancing.
Earlier we were reminded of spiritual gifts, now it’s time for the Fruit of the Spirit. The nine ladies remind us of the nine different character traits the Holy Spirit produces in the lives of God’s faithful: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. (Galatians 5:22-23) The Holy Spirit makes our character, our motivation, our very being, new. This is worthy of great celebration.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten lords a leaping.
Lords are men of authority with the power to establish rules and command their compliance. The lords a leaping symbolize God’s ten basic laws, otherwise known as the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20:3-17) It is impossible in our own strength to keep God’s law perfectly. God’s law is a gift because it reminds us we cannot save ourselves. We all need a savior.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me eleven pipers piping.
Eleven pipers could represent the eleven apostles who were chosen by Jesus and remained faithful to him. (There were originally 12 apostles before Judas chose to betray Jesus.) Like children joyfully following a piper, these disciples followed Jesus and encouraged others to follow him as well. Jesus’ offer of forgiveness and new life is a Good News tune of great hope and joy.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming .
Just as drummers beat out a loud, steady rhythm for marchers to follow, so the Apostles’ Creed sets forth the beliefs of those who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ. The twelve drummers represent the twelve vital Christian beliefs as stated in the Apostles’ Creed.  – Helen Haidle, The Real 12 Days of Christmas

1. I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth;
2. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
3. who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
4. suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried;
5. the third day he rose from the dead;
6. he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
7. and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
9. the holy universal church, the communion of saints,
10. the forgiveness of sins,
11 the resurrection of the body,
12. and the life everlasting. Amen.

So how did you do? Maybe you had never heard of the Torah or the Beatitudes or some other key Christian belief. No worries. The word disciple means student. Followers of Jesus are lifelong learners. I may have a seminary degree, but I still have so much to learn. I still need to read my Bible and meet with others to grow in faith. We all do. What group will you join? What’s your devotional plan? What steps will you take this New Year to grow your faith?

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A huge thank you to Helen Haidle, author of The Real 12 Days of Christmas, for inspiring this blog post.

For more work by today’s featured artist, Chris Buzelli, click here

For another blog post on gift giving, click here

Know you are always welcome at our congregation, Community United Methodist Church in DeBary, FL. We worship on Sundays at 8am, 9:20am, and 11am. Dress casual and bring the kids.

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this message in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page