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Midweek Message for Advent and Commitment Sunday

This Midweek Message is reposted from an all-church email sent a few days ago.

I know what you’re thinking: First, a Calling Post call came from Pastor Danita, and now, a Midweek Message from Pastor Dave?! As if the world isn’t mixed up and topsy-turvy enough as it is! What’s next, dogs and cats living together?! Mass hysteria?!

Ok, now that I’ve gotten some silliness out of my system, perhaps we can have a proper Midweek Message regarding Advent and Commitment Sunday. 

If you have participated in any of our worship services in the last year, you’ve almost certainly heard me say how grateful we are for your consistent, faithful financial gifts to your church. Your generosity makes possible all the ministries we do together. Thank you for that! 

Last week you received in the mail a lovely letter from Pastor Danita inviting you to prayerfully consider your giving to Woodridge UMC in 2023. Then, upon completion of that contemplation, she invited you to fill out a 2023 Estimate of Giving Form. Today, I’m reminding you to please bring your filled out 2023 Estimate of Giving Form with you to our worship service for Commitment Sunday this week, December 4th. (Need another copy of the 2023 Estimate of Giving Form? I got you! Click here for the form.)

Unable to attend the worship service in person this week? Simply mail your Estimate of Giving Form to the church office — please mark it for Financial Secretary. Or you may attach it to an email directly to our Financial Secretary, Geoff Morman, at

If you have participated in any of our worship service in the last year, you’ve almost certainly also heard me ask you to take a slow, deep breath. Intentionally controlling our breathing quiets our minds, stills our souls, and helps our bodies recover. It is no coincidence that in both Hebrew and Greek, the word for Spirit, (ruach and pneuma, respectively) is also the word for breath. This fact has so many wonderful implications—including God is as close to us as our next breath!

This Advent season, whenever the stress of all that is expected of you threatens to overwhelm, I encourage you to take a moment to Just. Breathe. And remember you are not alone. 

There are so many beautiful devotionals available to add your Advent experience, it is difficult to highlight only one. Yet that is what I will do! I adore the work author Cole Arthur Riley does on Instagram @BlackLiturgies. I encourage you to check out her posts there as she offers reflections, practices, and prayers for Advent. Here’s a taste:

In Advent, we put all our hope in the sacred blackness of a womb. As we wait, we remind ourselves that darkness, which is far too often reduced to a trite symbol for sin and death, in fact has the unique capacity to bear the divine. In Advent, we reclaim the holy dark.
Inhale: The world feels dim.
Exhale: But glory grows in the dark.

Amen to that! Keep on breathing and plotting goodness!

Posted by Pastor Dave Buerstetta with

'...Pray like this...'

We are so blessed to have multiple gospel accounts of Jesus' birth, life, teaching, death, and resurrection. Our four canonical gospels provide us with widely varying stories and details about Jesus. So widely varying that some stories as presented in one gospel are completely incompatible with the other gospels. Not only is that not a bad situation in which to find our selves--it is how it should be! It is freeing to know that God's love is so expansive that it could never be encapsulated in one singular version of one particular story. That also goes for the prayer commonly known as The Lord's Prayer (aka the "Our Father"): there is no, one, singular way to formulate that prayer.

We first encounter this prayer in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 6. We see it again in chapter 11 of Luke's gospel. They aren't the same! So there is no reason to be bothered by the existence of varying versions of the prayer. Still, it is totally fine to have a version of the prayer that you prefer because it brings you comfort and helps you connect with God. The world is plenty big enough for many versions to coexist. 

Many of you asked about having a copy of the versions we used last Sunday. Done! 

First we read The Rev. Dr. Wilda Gafney's translation of Matthew 6:9-13 in A Women's Lectionary for the Whole Church:

"Pray then in this way:
Our Parent and Provider in heaven,
holy is your Name.
May your majestic rule come.
May your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also forgive our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from that which is evil."

Here is the version we said together during the sermon time. Dr. Gafney included this in her commentary on Matthew 6. This is written by The Rev. Yolanda M. Norton:

Our Mother,
who is in heaven and within us,
we call upon your names.
Your wisdom come.
Your will be done, in all the spaces in which you dwell.
Give us each day sustenance and perseverance.
Remind us of our limits as we give grace to the limits of others.
Separate us from the temptation of empire,
and deliver us into community.
For you are the dwelling place within us,
the empowerment around us,
and the celebration among us, now and forever. Amen.

I hope these versions will unlock awe, wonder, and curiosity in your prayer routines. 

 

Posted by Pastor Dave Buerstetta with

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