Sunday, December 23, 2012

Just Say Thank You!

Advent Praycation 2012
There are so many people stressed out about picking the perfect gift for someone right now. It can’t be any ole toy but THE toy of the season. It can’t be any pair of shoes but the ones that say you rank in the social pecking order. Oh no, it can’t be just any piece of bling bling the real bling that makes the heart $ing. The gift must be something special that says I love you, I care or you’re special, wonderful and I took all this time, trouble and expense just for you!
Half the people you care about want you to be a mind reader. You have to figure out what they really want without them telling you. The other half will give you a long list to pick from or want you to get the whole gift.
Amazingly, some people promise themselves that they will not get caught up in the shopping frenzy especially those who don’t shop or hate to shop. Yet they do. And you? Sure you’ll be out there getting the last minute something for someone or yourself. There is food to cook…lots of it. Final preparations to attend to….people are coming, you’ll be going… you’ll be giving and getting…won’t it be great?!
Try to remember whose birthday it is! Christmas is the time to celebrate with those around you that God reached down into the world and gave us the gift of all gifts. God knew exactly what we needed. So God did the God thing by reaching out to the world through Jesus Christ who came with salvation for all. Love invaded the world and grace came along for the ride. Hallelujah the Lord is come!
So this Christmas, if you haven’t already just accept THE  gift called Jesus. Say thank you a lot because this gift fits all sizes, races, and origins. This gift will never run out, run away or go away. Just say thank you, thank ya Lordy!
Repeat your Advent Affirmation throughout the day: In everything that happens today I will give thanks to the Lord.
“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.”
Psalm 111: 1
Thanksgiving for God’s Love
O, Lord our God, how excellent is Your name in All the Earth!
We pause at this time in the Season of Advent with over flowing grateful hearts
And say, “Thank you, Lord!”
Thank You for Your unconditional love gift of Jesus, the Christ!
Thank You for loving us before we loved ourselves;
Thank You for sending Jesus that we might live through Him.
Thank You God for showing us that true love is patient,
And thank You for teaching us the endurance of true love!
Thank you God, for loving us through our sins
And providing us a way back to You and Your love.
Thank You for Christ’s unspeakable gift of eternal life!
We are truly grateful, Lord, in Jesus Name. Amen.
1 John 4:7a, 9-10
Bishop Sarah F. Davis
16th Episcopal District
AME Church

Friday, December 21, 2012

You're Worth it!

Advent Praycation 2012
Rejection is one of those things that know no gender, race, religion or social economic status. It happens to practically everyone in life. Friendship offered is refused. Genuine love given and it is rejected. An attempt at kindness is met with the cold shoulder. A gift is offered and then turned away.

We do not like it when a coach, teacher, parent, friend or family member makes rejection noises that sound like this: We don’t need you; you’re not wanted; if I needed you I would have called you; you don’t measure up; you’re not good enough, strong enough, bright enough, smart enough, wise enough or cute enough to be with us, play with us or be a part of our group. Rejection happens. It is painful when it does happen to us and yet we are blinded when we do it to others. Lord, forgive us!

Mother Teresa is reported to have said that there are drugs to treat people with leprosy. The drug however does not treat one of the main problems of the disease – that of being unwanted and rejected by everyone.

The Bible reminds us in this Advent season that Jesus came unto his own and was rejected. Jesus and His mission to save people from their sins was misunderstood and rejected. He tasted the bitter waters from the well of loneliness. Yet, he did not allow his haters and intimidators to distract him from what he was called to do. The opinions of the religions establishment and the whims of the populous did not deter Jesus from doing the will of the Father. What about you?

God loved you so much that he gave us his best gift - Jesus. And do you know what? You're worth it!
Repeat your Advent Affirmation throughout the day: Let wisdom flow from my mouth, compassion from my heart and understanding towards those who are misunderstood.

“He came unto his own, and own received him not.”
John 1: 11
Let us pray:
Almighty and Everlasting God, we lift our voices in praise and thanksgiving for loving us even when we were unloving; holding us when others refused; helping us when we were turned away and accepting us without question. When the world has made rejecting noises, you whispered in our ear – Come all ye who are heavy laden and I will give you rest!

Forgive us Lord when the rejecting noises have come out of our mouths causing pain to someone else, even those closest to us. Help us Lord to forgive those who have rejected us. Help us to forgive ourselves when we have done the same thing to others.

Teach us to fight against the temptation to wallow in the self-pity when we feel unworthy and unloved. Empower us to rise above rejection to keep doing what you have called us to do in church, the community and country. Your love does not fail!

Show us a better way to demonstrate your love in great and small ways throughout the day. Let wisdom flow from our mouths, compassion from our hearts, joy from our souls and understanding towards those who are misunderstood. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012


Advent Praycation 2012

Taking the time or making the time for shut-the-door prayer can be a challenge in any season of your life. It can elude you in the minutia of the day or with exhaustion at the end of it. Daily distractions can disrupt the time set aside for engaging in your spiritual disciplines. Even the most determined among us can get sidetracked.

No matter how busy you are today, take the time for shut-the-door prayer. The recent tragic events at the Sandy Hook School gripped all of us in its horror. It’s hard to imagine being a parent receiving the news that your first grader was shot and killed at school. It is equally hard to imagine being the one who has to inform that parent of the news or be the first responder who had to walk into that carnage to search for the perpetrator.

Beloved, it is time for shut-the-door-prayer! Only God can get us through a season of senseless acts in a school, a mall or a movie theater! Shut-the-door prayer will strengthen your grip on your shield of faith so you can hold it high again. The enemy of our souls has not stopped shooting fiery darts but the Lord has equipped us with what can quench them.

Prayer will also help you find the courage to do what you can to protect children everywhere from Detroit to Darfur or Calcutta to Connecticut.

Repeat your Advent Affirmation throughout the day: My hands are stronger to do the work before me, my heart can bare any burdens ahead and my mind is being renewed to make decisions that honor God.

"Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door."
Matthew 6: 6

Merciful God, we have shut the door against the intrusions of the day. We who are weary from the challenges and changes of this uncertain season seek rest in your eternal changelessness. Thank God that You are the same yesterday, today and forever more.

Speak now a word that dispels the clouds of doubt and fear. Speak a word that will sustain us in the mundane or monumental moments ahead. Speak a word that will strengthen our hands for the work before us, our hearts for any burdens to bare and renew our minds to make decisions that honor you.

In this shut door prayer, whisper your instructions so that we may emerge to do your will. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Vashti Muphy McKenzie

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Help

Advent Praycation 2012
Have you noticed that some of the traditional stories circulating within our cultural matrix every year strives for a happy ending when help finally arrives? Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer had a very shiny nose. He helped out when the weather turned into an obstacle on Christmas Eve. The Grinch finally had a change of heart and became a help not a hinderance  in Whoville. Scrooge finally gets it in the end and helps Tiny Tim. God bless us everyone. Kris Kringle gets sent to a psychiatric hospital in Miracle on 34th Street but gets help in court, which affirms that he is genuine. George Bailey in Its A Wonderful Life thinks the world has come to an end when Clarence, an angel trying to earn wings helps out. In the Bible Mary and Joseph needed a place to stay. They didn’t have a reservation but an innkeeper helps out by finding space for them among the animals.
Everyone needs help every now and then. In these uncertain times, now and then comes along a lot. We need the kind of help that we can provide to each other. The help may be a kind word, a hand up, a few coins, food, shelter, safety, security, a hand to hold and sometimes a shoulder to cry on.
We also need the help that only comes with Divine intervention. We need God to step into the situation to either make everything all right or make us all right with everything.
Today repeat your Advent Affirmation throughout the day: Lord, make everything all right or make me all right with everything!
"I lift up my eyes to the hills from where my help come. My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth."
Psalm 121:1
Lord of heaven and earth, we come to you in weakness seeking your strength. Our lives are too empty without your joy. Our burdens become too heavy without your help. Our fears run away with us without your peace. Our anger becomes too destructive without your love.
Our world has become fractured, hungry and hurting. We look to you for help. Help us Lord and give us the power to help, and make our helping effective. Please make everything all right or make s all right with everything. In Jesus Name, Amen
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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Trash Day

Advent Praycation 2012

When you’re the youngest in the family, usually the lowest chores are left for you to do. Taking out the trash is often on the list. It meant in our family collecting all of the trash from every receptacle. Bag it tightly and carrying it all to the hugh trash cans on the back porch. Drag those two big cans to the curb in the evening for the next day pick up! Ugg! Hated it!

As painful as it seemed at the time, it would be worse if the garbage was left in the house…rotting, stinking, an incubator for germs and a magnet for pests. It was best to get rid of it, while it was manageable at the appropriate time that to have it mess up the house.
All of us have a bit of trash that needs to be put out of our lives at appropriate times while it is manageable. If we don’t, it could stink up our lives for a long time.

Advent is the season of preparation. Let’s prepare for a new life in Christ by getting rid of some stuff that has the potential to mess up our spiritual houses.

Repeat your Advent Affirmation throughout the day: Today I will take out the garbage. I will discard thoughts, attitudes, people and habits that are not compatible with an abundant, beautiful and excellent life.

Get ready! Be Prepared!”
Ezekiel 38:7
Let us pray: 

Prepare me Lord to begin a new life. Lead me to do those things that help my heart and mind to be receptive to a fresh start.
Today, I will begin by throwing out the garbage. I will discard thoughts, attitudes, and habits that are not compatible with an abundant, beautiful and excellent life. I turn away from negative people, places and things and turn towards that which is positive and uplifting.

I let go of whatever has caused past discouragement, disappointment, or disagreement. I reach for those things that encourage, support and nourish my body, mind and spirit.

So, I stand boldly on your Word.. behold you shall do a new thing in me.
Open the eyes of my heart and my mind to be receptive to new ideas, activities and relationships.
In Jesus name, Amen

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Arrival Ready?

Advent Praycation 2012

Beloved, we are all waiting for something. We are waiting for something to happen, something to cease, something to start, something to end, somethng to get better or somehing to arrive. Advent is the season of arrival. What are you waiting for to arrive? Jesus Christ is coming, again! The personification fo God's love, joy and peace. The government shall be upon His shoulders in spite of what the politicians think. (Isaiah 6:9)
Since we know that God answers prayer, be sure that you are prepared for the arrival. The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Since you have committed yourselves, your stuff and you it time to prepare for the arrival of your blessing!

Repeat your Advent Affirmation throughout the day:
Lord prepare my head, my heart and my life for your arrival and the arrival of Kingdom blessings!

"Prepare for God's arrival. Make the road smooth and straight." Mark 1: 1-3
The Message
Let is Pray: 
Dear Lord in this season of eager anticipation of a rebirth of hope, a transformation from distress and gloom-we believe that those things that have held us down and kept us bound—will nevertheless cease and will be no more.
As your people we shall no longer walk in darkness for the Light of the World has come and His name is Jesus. We cling to your name Jesus because it reminds us that you took on human flesh for our sake. We recognize your divinity Christ because you never lost the ability to change your situation but instead chose to save our souls. We pray that through those times of despair that we remember your bright light that guided us all to you.
In this day, we believe fervently that you will again enlarge our territory, restore joy where despair sought to disable it and we will again rejoice in your name always. We shall have no fear of what could go wrong, we have no fear of what will go wrong-we simply believe that because you are Lord, you are Savior and you are God that all things are indeed working together for our good because we have been called by you and because we truly love you.
In you we seek our eternal Wonderful Counselor-the One who is able to guide us into all truth, we believe our Mighty God desires only what is good for us, we know that your mercies endure forever for you are the Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace—we love, adore and anticipate all great things during this most sacred period in our lives-Jesus come, it is you we love, it is you we serve. Father receive our prayer in the name of the One we love-Jesus Christ.

Rev. Deborah D. Jenkins,
Wife, Mother, Pastor, Author, Entrepreneur

Monday, December 3, 2012

Give 'Till It Hurts

Advent Praycation 2012

Giving is a joy especially during this time of the year. Giving until it hurts or until you max out your credit cards is not a joy. Every year so many of us promise ourselves we will not overdo, overspend, or overeat. Yet, by the time the advertising messages, sales, smells of baking pies, cakes, roasting turkey and Christmas carols get through with us it is not a joy to our world.
During this Advent season prepare yourselves to give what’s priceless and never on sale.

“The wicked borrow, and do not pay back, but the righteous are generous and keep giving.”
Psalm 37:21
Lord, our soon coming King, you have given us the gift of eternal life through your son Jesus Christ. Now, may the spirit of generosity overcome us and lead us to give our all to you today.
Empower us to speak your word into the lives of those around us;
Give wise counsel when asked;
Give a kind word ; 
Give  comfort to those who are suffering; 
Give of our time to causes that need our input and influence; 
Give our love without seeking reciprocity, 
and give our treasure to under gird your work.

Direct us Lord in all of our giving. Help us to give unselfishly and grow beyond self-serving lifestyles. Help us to give what money cannot buy love, acceptance, forgiveness, peace and understanding.

In Jesus name, increase our eagerness to give ourselves to you..again! Amen.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Come Home For Christmas


It seems we have created a cacophony of magical moments this time of the year. Our Christmas moments tend to be a cross between the remnants of European practices where there are lots of Tiny Tim’s whose needs are met miraculously by the transformed Ebenezer Scrooges of life and Santa Clause breaking and entering in homes every year without being arrested or incarcerated. Swirling around in this mixture are Christmas Carols promising nights that are silent and holy and invitations to the faithful who can still come to adore Him.
Family traditions are kept. Memories are being created. Our hearts long to be bathed in the warm glow of a holiday season where war and rumors of wars fade, problems disappear in the glare of holiday lights. It’s Christmas. It’s on sale right now. You can use cash, credit, debit or layaway to have the Christmas you want this year!
We want things to be the way we want things to be: everyone gets what they want; everyone eats what they want; everyone gets to be with who they want to be with; everyone is safe and secure; sane and surrounded by familial love. Right?

If we’re not careful, we will miss the coming Messiah because of the materialism of the moment.
You are cordially invited to Come Home For Christmas this year. This home is not a physical location but a spiritual reality in Christ Jesus.

Join us for Praycation Advent 2012 – Come Home for Christmas beginning Sunday, December 2, 2012. Make this moment of Scripture, prayer, reflection and response one to be enjoyed alone or shared with family and friends. Use it to invite someone to go to church with you during this season of preparation called Advent and into the New Year. It’s a great way to start the day or the study moments in your local congregation. Share it on your social network or just email it to a friend.
Come Home to Christ for Christmas…and stay!

Let us Pray:
Lord, amid the chaotic rush of this Advent moment, help me not to miss the Messiah in the materialism. In Jesus name, Amen.

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie