Dear pastors in the new Indiana Conference,

I offered the following Christmas Prayer for you my first year back here in Indiana, 2004, and in many ways it seems to be even more appropriate this year. As you approach these days of Advent and Christmas, I know that your lives are busy caring for your congregations, for your families, and for the preparations of this season. Perhaps in the midst of your busy schedules, you are finding too little time to take care of yourself - or even to enjoy the blessings of Christmas.

And so as your bishop, I offer this prayer for you and for all who are in ministry through our Indiana Conference. Along with this prayer comes my hope that you will find Christmas joy this year. God bless you.

Gracious God, whose coming we celebrate during Advent and Christmas, may You come swiftly and powerfully to the pastors and the people of Indiana. Protect those who are traveling, guide those who lead, comfort those who grieve, and strengthen those who are weakened by illness, by heartache, or by discouragement.

Especially I pray, O blessed Lord, that You may bring JOY into the lives and ministry of our pastors. Let their preparations for worship services be blessed with responsive parishioners and visitors. Let their sermons be filled with the power of Your Holy Spirit speaking and working through them. Let their hectic times be balanced with times of peace and reflection. Let their ministry during this Advent and Christmas time bear the fruit of the JOY of this season -- not just for those they lead, but also for themselves and their loved ones.

And may You, O God, grant each pastor a time of personal respite and renewal during the afterglow of Christmas, so that Christmas JOY may be fully born in each one of their hearts this season.

I ask these things, most Gracious God, in the name of the One whose coming we celebrate, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner
Indiana Area of The United Methodist Church