Reflection and Renewal

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We have celebrated the birth of our Lord and Savior and the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love that comes with Christ!  Now a new year is upon us, but each year runs the risk of being more of the same with no ‘newness’ or changes implemented.  Christ came into this world so that it might be transformed – not stagnant!  During this time in between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I want to encourage you to spend time in prayer on how 2011 might be different than 2010.   In what areas has your life been stagnant and in need of transformation?  How might you live your life more for Christ and less for yourself?

Some United Methodist churches practice a tradition of holding a “Covenant Renewal Service” on New Year’s Eve or Day in which they reaffirm their commitment to God and begin the new year with a reaffirmation of their faith.  In the late 18th Century, after John Wesley conducted one of these services in London, he wrote of it in his diary, “I do not know that ever we had a greater blessing.  Afterwards many desired to return thanks, either for a sense of pardon, for full salvation, or for a fresh manifestation of [God’s] graces, healing all their backslidings” (January 1, 1775).

At the heart of this service is the Wesley Covenant Prayer.  During this week, you might take time memorizing this prayer and writing it on your heart.  Perhaps you could spend each day this week reflecting on a different portion of the prayer while you search within your heart whether or not you are able to reaffirm your commitment to this covenant.  At the end of the week, with this prayer memorized and with your heart in agreement  with this covenant, you might lift this prayer up in its entirety on New Year’s Day as you make 2011 about living your life for Christ.

I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,

exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.

So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven.


– Pastor Michael Maroon

Christmas Music

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It’s the week before Christmas and music is everywhere!  Sometimes there is so much Christmas music in the air, we don’t really hear the words any more.  This week, as you prepare to celebrate the end of the journey to Bethlehem and the beginning of God’s gift to us, try using these familiar Christmas songs in prayer to begin each busy day:

Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay, close by me forever, and love me I pray.
O Holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in; be born in us this day.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell. Oh come to us, abide in us, Our God Emmanuel!

Eternal God, by the birth of Jesus Christ you gave yourself to the world.
Grant that, being born in our hearts, he may save us from all our sins,
and restore within us the image and likeness of our Creator, world without end. Amen.

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning, Jesus, to thee be all glory given.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing. Oh come let us adore him.

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light. Radiant beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace. Jesus Lord at thy birth.
Silent night, holy night; wondrous star, lend thy light. With the angels let us sing
Alleluia to our king. Christ the savior is born, Christ the savior is born!

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her king; let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing.
He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness,
and wonders of his love.

We pray for you a wonderful, joyous Christmas filled with the presence of God and the joy of celebrating Jesus’ birth.

– Pastor Michael Maroon, Pastor of Prayer and Congregational Care
– Jennifer Creagar, Assistant for Prayer and Congregational Care

The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection

Letting God Order Your World

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There’s a wonderful daily devotion book by Sarah Young called Jesus Calling.  It’s written from the perspective of God speaking to you based on the daily scripture references that Sarah provides.  You are called to just listen to what God has to say as you go through each daily devotion.  In the introduction Sarah writes, “[the] practice of listening to God has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline.”  She believes that it is in the listening, more than the speaking, that we grow in our relationship with God.  As I write this prayer tip to you on Friday, December 10th, I wanted to share a portion of today’s (Friday’s) daily devotion (remember to listen to these words as if God is speaking them to you):

Make Me the focal point of your search for security.  In your private thoughts, you are still trying to order your world so that it is predictable and feels safe.  Not only is this an impossible goal, but it is also counterproductive to spiritual growth.  When your private world feels unsteady and you grip My hand for support, you are living in conscious dependence on Me.  Instead of yearning for a problem-free life, rejoice that trouble can highlight your awareness of My Presence…

We often do try to order this world according to our will.  On Christmas Day in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, Jesus was born to begin the re-ordering of things in this world according to God’s will.  As we inch closer to that celebration, continue to spend time prayerfully listening to God in an attitude of letting go of control.  In doing so, may you find yourself more fully aware of God’s continuous and loving presence in your life as you lean on God more and more for guidance, direction and support.  –Michael J. Maroon, Pastor of Prayer and Congregational Care (J-L)

Peace, Hope and Chaos

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Last weekend in worship we lit the candle of Hope as a reminder of the hope that was brought into the world through the birth of Jesus.  This weekend we are lighting the candle of Peace.  The Christmas season can be so chaotic and “peace” is not something that often comes to my mind very easy.  I have to admit, however, I feel a little guilty saying that knowing that there are so many in our congregation who’s chaos is much more real than my perceived chaos.  Many don’t see the hope or feel the peace that Jesus brought into this world.  During your prayer time in this Advent season, spend some intentional time thinking about those persons you know who are steeped in chaos.  Perhaps they lost their job or a loved one, or maybe they have anxiety from a recent diagnosis – whatever the reason, lift them up in prayer and be part of their answered prayer by inviting them to come spend some time in worship as we recall the very real Hope, Peace, Love and Joy that was brought into the world through the birth of Jesus

Pastor Michael Maroon, Pastor of Prayer and Congregational Care Pastorate JKL

Be still…

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Silence.  If we are honest, a lot of us are not comfortable with silence.  Our lives include so much noise that we are more comfortable with commotion than quiet.  We surround ourselves with noise – music, television, podcasts, phones that never leave our side, even machines to make sounds that help us go to sleep.  We fill every moment with some kind of background noise.

The quiet part of prayer is the hardest for many of us.  We sit down and start talking, which is good.  God wants to hear from us, wants us to speak our minds and our hearts.  He wants to hear our praises, our declarations, and our requests.  But then comes the listening part.  Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”  In The Message paraphrase, it says, “Step out of the traffic!” In order to listen, we need to be open to the experience of true silence.

It’s harder to be quiet and listen for God’s voice. How do we learn how to be still and listen?  First, we have to practice silence. It is necessary, in order to get used to the lack of commotion, to find a time and place every day to spend at least a few minutes in as complete quiet as you can.  To help settle into the quiet, you might listen to your own breath, or concentrate on a single word that represents an attribute of God.  At first, it will probably be hard.  If you keep practicing, though, you will eventually experience true stillness.  And in that stillness, you will begin to listen for God to speak.

This weekend at Resurrection we will hear about Elijah, the prophet who listened to God.
In  I Kings 19:11-13, Elijah experiences a powerful wind, an earthquake, and a fire. But God was not in any of them. The voice of God came in “a gentle whisper” (I Kings 19:11-13).  As you practice silence in God’s presence, you will clear your heart and mind to hear that gentle whisper and experience the listening side of prayer.

Jennifer Creagar
Congregational Care and Prayer Ministry

The Greater Work

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Oswald Chambers wrote, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”  This week in the GPS and in worship, we will think about, and dream about the church and its ministry. For the next few weeks, we will be looking back at the 20 years of ministry at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, examining where we are today and looking forward to where God is leading us in the next 20 years and beyond. It is exciting to look at what God has done, what God is doing, and what God is leading the church toward in the future.

Do you pray regularly for the church and its ministry?  Are prayers for the church part of your daily prayers?  Here are some ways you can pray for the church:

  • Choose a different area of ministry for each day of the week, or even each day of the month, and write them on your calendar as a reminder to pray. The web site lists ministry areas, and events that could go on your calendar.
  • Pray for the individuals involved in ministry at the church and all its campuses. There is a listing of staff members on the web site.  Pray for each by name over the course of a week, or a month.
  • If you receive the weekly eNews and Pastor Adam’s emails, pray for people and events listed in those emails.
  • Take a prayer walk!  Walk around the Leawood campus and pray for the church. Visit the prayer wall and the Firestone prayer chapel.  If you worship at one of the other campuses, arrive a few minutes early for worship and walk around the building, praying for the church, its ministry and the people who will be coming to worship that day.
  • If you are near the Leawood campus around noon on a weekday, come to the Firestone chapel for prayer. A pastor leads prayer for the church, personal needs, and anything else that comes up Monday – Friday at noon.
  • A special opportunity to pray for our church and many others is available at the Leadership Institute Prayer vigil on October 7 and 8.  For more information click on the link at or look for the information in the eNews.

For all of these ministries and people, pray that they will clearly hear God’s voice and see God’s plan for the ministry, for energy and vision to follow that plan, for inspiration, leadership, and perseverance. For the individuals involved in ministry, pray for strength, both spiritual and physical, health, and for rest and renewal of spirit when they are tired.  Pray for the members and visitors to become deeply committed Christians, and for the Church of the Resurrection to be an instrument for changing lives, transforming communities and renewing the mainline church.

The greater work of the Church of the Resurrection begins with prayer.  As we praise God for the past 20 years and look forward, please be in prayer for the work God has for the Church of the Resurrection now and in the future.

Jennifer Creagar

Resurrection Prayer Ministry

Noise…and silence

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In one of Rob Bell’s Nooma videos entitled, “Noise,” he talks about a guy named Bernie Krause who does recordings of nature sounds.  Apparently it takes Bernie over 2000 hours of recording sound in the world around us to gain 1 hour of collective silence.  In 1968 it took Bernie only 15 hours of recorded noise to achieve 1 hour of silence.  Our world has gotten noisier.  With our cell phones, hundreds of television stations and satellite radios (so you won’t even experience silence in the middle of nowhere!) we have successfully cut silence out of our lives and replaced it with a connection to the world around us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.   The problem with this is that we are so connected with this worldly that it can often be difficult for us to disconnect so we can tune in with the heavenly kingdom. In scripture, we read that Jesus often retreated into prayer (Luke 5:16).  He turned the world off, if just for a moment, so that he could connect with God in a deep and focused way.  We cannot have rich and meaningful prayer lives if we never retreat, as Jesus did, and silence the world around us so that we might here God speak.  I invite you to try this – find a time and place in which you can turn it all off (the cell, the radio and all the other noise around you) and retreat into a time of silence, and just listen for God.  Can you hear him?   Don’t even talk… just listen.  It is often in the silence that we can hear God speak and feel God’s presence.  May you find many moments of silence this week as you seek a deeper relationship with God. –Michael Maroon, Pastor of Prayer

The Sound of Music

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When my youngest son was in first grade, his class had a music teacher who truly inspired a room full of six year olds to sing.  In fact, the whole class was likely to break into song at any moment, like characters in some pint-sized musical.  It was so cute that their classroom teacher just let them go, and many times they would be working on spelling or coloring their papers and singing away.  She also discovered that music and singing helped them focus and there was less distraction in the room when she let them sing.

The GPS guide this week will mention music, praise, and hymns in many different forms.  Music, in the background or foreground, can be a great tool or even starting point for prayer. Sometimes the Holy Spirit uses music to speak to our hearts – to comfort, inspire, bring us closer to God in praise and worship.  Sometimes music helps us block out the noise of our lives and focus our attention on being in the presence of God.  Singing together in worship connects us in prayer and praise.

Do you have a favorite hymn or praise song?  Try singing it, or playing it on the CD or MP3 player as a centering exercise when you begin to pray.  Focus on the words and the music and let the song block out all the other sounds around you, including the “noise” of your thoughts.  Most hymns and praise songs emphasize an attribute or attributes of God.  What is your favorite hymn or praise song telling you about God?  What do you want to say to God in response?  There is the starting point for your prayer.  You can continue in the same manner as the hymn or praise song, or move on from there to another type of prayer. Your whole prayer time can be filled with music, or it can begin there and move on. Music and song can also be a great way to end a prayer time of words and/or silence with praise and celebration of God who heard your prayers.

As it was for the first graders, music can be a tool for focus and connection.

Jennifer Creagar
Prayer Ministry Staff

Coffee With God

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A few weeks back, I had a conversation with one of our staff members about her prayer life.  She had a very practical story with how she entered into a meaningful prayer life with the God who created, redeemed and sustains her.  A friend of hers had mentored her by inviting her to treat God as if God were a friend that she was going to have coffee or tea with and, in the midst of that fellowship, just share your thoughts and “downright gut-wrenching issues” that are weighing on your heart.

So that’s exactly what she did.  One afternoon she put on some water to boil, poured two cups of tea and imagined that God was sitting down across the table from her as she had a conversation with God.  Now, do you think that God’s presence was only her imagination or was God truly sitting right across from her as she sipped her tea?  How pleasing it must have been for God to be invited to tea with this wonderful child of his!

In truth, she said it felt a little weird at first for her to pray in this way but, through her vulnerability, she found herself connecting with God in a way that she had never felt before!  Perhaps its time you invited God to join you for coffee or tea?  Or if coffee or tea is not your thing, then you might try writing an email to God or cooking a meal with your Lord.   Maybe you might even take a drive with God sitting in your passenger seat.  You may feel a little bit crazy when you first try this form of prayer, but I imagine you will connect with God in a deepening way just as my friend and colleague did.  I hope that you might share your experience on the prayer blog ( if you try out this prayer discipline over the next week.

The Little Things

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Brother Lawrence was a monastic “lay brother” in a Carmelite Priory in Paris who came from humble and uneducated beginnings in the 17th century.  Because of his lowly status in the priory he was assigned to work in the kitchen.  Over his years in the kitchen, he learned to discipline himself to be in a constant state of prayer while he accomplished his day to day tasks.  He believed that, no matter how mundane the task, anything could become a medium for experience God’s loving presence in his life and in the life of others.  He wrote, “We can do little things for God;  I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and [with] that done, if there is nothing else to call me (no other responsibilities), I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king.  It is enough for me to pick up a straw from the ground for the love of God.”

Sounds nice, doesn’t it?  I wonder if it is possible for us to obtain this kind of prayer life – where everything we do seems to be for God and we are cognizant of that fact.  It’s certainly worth striving towards.

I know a Financial Advisor whose mission statement is to “bring glory to God by helping people find contentment with their finances.”  Some may think this far-fetched but I know this man and I find myself often envious of his relationship with God.  I know another business man who has a daily prayer meeting with a group of his colleagues each day during lunch.  These are people who strive to find God in the every day… in the mundane.  How might you find ways to “do little things for God” throughout your day?  How can you make seemingly mundane things prayerful?  If you cook, you might pray over the food you are preparing – that it might bless those who receive it.  If you work in customer service, perhaps you pray a brief blessing for the customer during a lull in the conversation.  I invite you to be creative as you make the little things in life more prayerful.

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