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Prayer Network

Nic Prayer Network

The Discipleship Task Force is launching this new webpage to provide an opportunity to join together in common prayer.

This webpage will host a weekly prayer calendar with a Bible verse and devotion by a NIC pastor along with some holy humor and other resources. We will be encouraged to pray for a NIC church, pastor, events of the week, and more.

We encourage groups to gather for a short time of prayer starting with our NIC Prayer Network page, but individuals can join in privately from their computer, as well.

Prayers

Week of May 24-30, 2020

From Rev. David Kaller, retired 

“Give thanks to the Lord, who is good, whose love endures forever.”  Psalm 118:1, 29, New American Bible

As I write this, we are just a few days away from Palm/Passion Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week.  It is also the beginning of April, the first full month of spring, and it definitely looks and feels like spring.  How wonderful, the season of new birth and resurrection!

At the same time, we are all under orders to “stay at home,” due to the coronavirus, COVID 19, which is killing many people, and disrupting “business as usual” around the world, in all sorts of ways.  Yes, we are in the midst of a world-wide crisis, such as most of us have never seen before…  And our churches are not even able to gather for Easter worship. What are we to make of such a time?

Perhaps nothing is more needed than the Easter message. Out of death, God brings forth life. The Church itself was born in the wake of the death of our Savoir. Early Christians, as well as Jews in the first century, were often under severe persecution from the Roman government. Life was anything but certain.  And yet, the church multiplied and flourished.

Our funeral liturgy reads, “In the midst of life, we are in death; from whom can we seek help?” And the response is given, “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.” (The United Methodist Book of Worship, p.155) It is ever so. Let us not panic. Let us practice love and faith. Let us put our trust in God, who alone can save.  

Gracious and merciful God, draw us ever closer to you, as well as one another.  Make us faithful disciples in this time of need. Amen.

Churches: Lemont, Lockport: First, Lockport: Faith, Manhattan, Millbrook, Millington, Minooka
Pastors: Joshua Bailey-Green, Donald A Baker, Robert L Baker, M Barclay, Laura E Barkley, Norma Lee Kerns Barnhart, Frederick Vincent Bartels
NIC Staff: Woody Bedell
NIC Advance Project: Inclusive Collective Ministry UIC/NIU

* * * 

Week of May 17-23, 2020

By Rev. Dr. John Meyers, retired

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” 1 Peter 2: 9-10. 

"Whose are you?” Every year at Annual Conference the Ordained Elders of Northern Illinois meet in what is called, “The Clergy Session.” At that session, those seeking election as Ordained Clergy come before the 4oo or so members and are voted on. Many years ago a clergy session was being held at the Northern Illinois University in DeKalb; Bishop Paul Washburn presiding. The session was nearing it’s end; all the candidates had appeared, been questioned and voted upon. The Bishop was sharing his final words when the door opened and a young man came racing down the aisle. “Who are you and what do you want?” the Bishop said very loudly as he pointed his finger at the young man. The man froze; the room went silent, the Bishop kept pointing. After a few moments, the man spoke up and said, “Sir, I am a child of God, I come to be ordained a Deacon (commissioned clergy today), and I am sorry I’m late.” The silence was broken as someone started to clap. Others joined in and soon every person in the room was standing and clapping. The Bishop smiled and came down to greet the man. After the applause died down, the Bishop said, “Are there any questions?” There were none. “All in favor of electing this man to probationary membership and ordaining him Deacon say, Aye.” There was a unanimous shout of “Aye.” Most of the clergy in the room did not know this man, so why was there such a great sign of approval? Because he knew “whose” he was. Before saying who he was and why he was interrupting the session, he said “whose” he was; “I am a child of God.” “Whose” are you? Do you wake each morning and say to yourself, “I am a child of God?” Do you claim the words of Peter, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation!” Are you one of God’s chosen. Do you know and feel that you are wrapped in the mercy of God, forgiven and loved? We are living in scary times! There is an enemy out there waiting for us. A virus, COVID-19. The stock market has fallen, there’s no toilet paper in the stores, we are told not to gather for worship, kids are out of school, people are not working and not getting paid. We are scared. But, God is still God and we are still God’s people, and God still gives us mercy. So, be scared, take precautions, be safe as you can. And never forget “whose” you are. 

Prayer! Eternal God, you who have formed us from the dust of the earth and call us your people, lift us up from fear and the darkness of the unknown. Remind us “whose” we are and fill us with the power of your holy spirit that we may see your light in each day. Protect and encourage all those called upon to care for others; guide our world leaders; help us to “proclaim” your mighty acts as we reach out to bring mercy and love to others. We offer these prayers in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Amen!

Prayer Focus:

Churches: Green Garden, Crete, Hinsdale, Joliet: Grace, Joliet: Hope, Joliet: Ingalls Park, Joliet: Trinity, Kaneville.

Pastors: Corey Ashley, David P Aslesen, John C Atherton, Robert A Atkins, Jr., Donna Louise Atkinson, Thomas Eugene Babler, Jeffrey Dean Baer.

NIC Staff: Marva Andrews

NIC Advance Projects: Korean-American Campus Ministry

Events: Businesses on hold, delayed Annual Conference

* * * 

Week of May 10-16, 2020

Rev. Chris Winkler, Barrington UMC, Elgin District

17For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.  18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress.  

21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord—and their descendants as well.  (Isaiah 65:17-19, 21-23)

When the prophet Isaiah brought this word from the Lord to the People Israel, hope was a rare commodity.  For decades the People had watched as the land they had worked so hard to develop, the land they loved had experienced incredible devastation and destruction. The Temple, the center of their worship life, lay in ruins and the great City of Jerusalem was little more than a smoldering ruin. The Babylonian empire had overtaken their country and exiled many of their most important citizens—just as the prophet had warned would happen. From where they sat and observed the world around them, there seemed to be little to be hopeful about. Their future was far from certain, everything they thought they knew was in question and everything they could count on had been dismantled.   

Just then, at this incredibly low moment in their history—and just when trouble and turmoil seemed to be in control—now, that same prophet stands and delivers a new word from God, “I am about to create new heavens and a new earth, the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.” It is an interesting and informative word for our Church today.  Perhaps God is getting us ready for a new thing, a new creation—one the will bring us great joy and delight.  One thing I know from scripture is that our God is not a God of death and destruction, our God is one of new life and new beginnings.  Throughout our faith story, God constantly turns the tables on despair and creates something new and wonderful.  It happened for Abraham and Sarah when God turned their barrenness into God’s chosen people.  It happened when Moses led the people out of bondage in Egypt and—though they would experience a time in the wilderness, delivered them into the Land of Promise.  It happened most prominently on Easter when God turned the despair of death and the devastation of the tomb into resurrection and restoration. It turns out that God is—and always will be—in the business of new creation, new beginnings, and new life.  

Notice, however, that every story of resurrection and restoration required a faithful response of the people.  Abraham and Sarah had to trust that God would fulfill God’s promise before it could happen.  Moses had to leave the comfort of his life and trust that God would go with him to lead the people to freedom, and the people had to leave everything they knew behind to cross the Red Sea and begin their incredible adventure of faith that would lead them to the Promised Land. The disciples not only had to believe that Jesus was resurrected, but they also had to spread that Good News or the Jesus Movement would have been nothing more than a blip on history’s radar. Likewise, the people of the United Methodist Church must believe and trust that God is leading us to a new and better place. 

We may have our times of doubt and despair—we are human, after all—but God is still with us and God is still in the business of restoration, reconciliation and restoration. So let us move boldly into the future that God has in store for us. It is a matter of hope. It is a matter of faith. 

Let us pray:

Dear God, when calamity befalls us and the forces of evil rise against us, remind us that you are a God of hope, justice, mercy and grace. You do not promise us a life without suffering, but you assure us you will never abandon us.  Walk with us now, in our need, our sorrow and our hope.  Amen

Prayer Focus:
Churches: Carol Stream: St Andrew, Channahon, Downers Grove: Faith, Downers Grove: First, Frankfort, Geneva.
Pastors: Danita R. Anderson, Lino Aragon, Stephen Paul Aram, Francisco Arroyo, Douglas A Asbury
NIC Officers and Staff: Arlene Christopherson
NIC Advance Projects: Bethany Methodist Good Samaritan Program
Events: Issues not resolved, General Confernece Postponed

* * * 

Week of May 3-9, 2020

Devotions by Rev. Caleb Hong, Orland Park UMC 

Psalm 1

1 Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;
2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.
3 They are like trees planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.  

In all that they do, they prosper.

4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, 
but the way of the wicked will perish.

Before choosing to read any book, I usually skim the opening pages.  If the writer piques my interest, I continue reading.  If not, I reshelve the book and look for other options.  

With its opening word, the first chapter of the Psalms grabs my attention.  In some translations, like the one above, the opening word is ‘Happy.’  In others, the Hebrew word is translated ‘Blessed.’  Regardless of the translation, the psalm reminds me of Robert Frost's poem, “The Road Not Taken.”  (You know, the poem that everyone quotes in their high school yearbook.)  The Psalmist declares that there is a particular “road” that leads to happiness and life.  It also makes clear that another “road” leads to unhappiness and death.

The road to Happiness is where we “delight in the law of the LORD” and reflect on God’s law day and night.  We center our thoughts on God’s word.  We reflect on the goodness of God’s will in our actions every day.  We allow God’s love to serve as the motivation and foundation for every aspect of our lives.  

It’s like when you’re in love.  Love captures your heart and mind, day and night.  You constantly think about the other person.  You daydream about them at all hours, at work, at school, at home.  You miss them even though you’ve just spent the last five hours on the phone with them.  Love makes you act goofy (for the better) around friends and family.  Love increases your capacity to see the beauty and wonder of the world.  Love changes you – in part because it consumes you – for the better.  

Friends, as we begin this holy season of Lent, let’s heed the words of the Psalmist.  The “road” that leads to life is the life of Love – receiving and responding to God’s amazing love for us.  It’s embracing the heart-melting, soul-renewing, life-transforming love of God this day and always.  

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by,  and that has made all the difference.”  Robert Frost

Prayer Focus:  

Churches: Aurora: Bethany of Fox Valley, Aurora: Flowing Forth, Aurora: Nueva Vida, Aurora: Wesley, Batavia, Bollingbrook: Crossroads of Faith

Pastors: Ilsup Ahn, Joseph Joo-young Ahne, Melwyn S Alagodi, Lowell Dean Allen, Patricia Allen-Stewart, Martin Paul Alphonse

NIC Officers and Staff: Bishop Sally Dyck

NIC Advance Projects: Abounding Ministries

Events: The Church Deployed

Holy Humor:  Delivering a speech at a banquet on the night of his arrival in a large city, a visiting pastor told several anecdotes he expected to repeat at meetings the next day.  Because he wanted to use the jokes again, he asked the reporters who were there to omit them from the stories they write for their newspapers.  A cub reporter, in reporting on the speech, ended his article with the following: “The pastor told a number of stories that cannot be published.”

(This was submitted to The Joyful Noiseletter by Rev. Dr. Karl R Kraft of Dover, DE and appeared in the March-April 2020 edition)

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