Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Christmas Prayer

God of our waiting and hoping. For so long we have been waiting for this night. For so long we have been waiting for the coming of peace, the wonder of a better world, the reign of love and justice. On this night we gather to celebrate the birth of a baby who promises to bring all these things. May our celebration of his birth lead us to work with the Babe to help the promises and possibilities come to be.

God who changes our lives. The promise of Christmas comes with a challenge. You challenged a young couple to take risks and have a baby despite the social sanctions that told them what they were doing was wrong. You challenge us to do more than adore the baby, but also to care for his message and pass on his love. Help us to embrace the awe-inspiring change that comes with the birth of a new world, born with a baby in a manger.

God of carols and children. As we hear the old story and sing the old songs reawaken in us the wonder and awe of childhood. May we remember the joy and excitement of Christmas as we join in the celebration on this night and tomorrow morning. Help us raise not just voices but also hearts and souls in joyous song as we celebrate the birth of hope, the gift of life and light in abundance.

God of chaos and calm. The scene around the manger that night must have been noisy and hectic. And yet we imagine it as being strangely peaceful. All of us with children understand that contradiction. Life is hectic and noisy and chaotic and yet we can find the oases of calm when we stop to look. As we celebrate with noise and song and story, may we also find the silence of the night and the peace of your presence.

In the beginning there was darkness. And you called forth the light. Throughout recorded time there has been darkness, and you called out the light. In our world today there is darkness, help us to find the light. The Christmas story reminds us of your love and care for your created, how you will never abandon us to the dark. In the face of the darkness help us choose to be people of the light. As we stand in the glow of starlight and angel song and a babe with his mother may we always remember that though the light shines in the darkness the darkness has not, will not, and can not over come it.

God of Christmas. Tonight we celebrate the birth of a child. But we also celebrate the birth of hope, the changes of life, the wonder of childhood, the calm in the midst of chaos, and the power of light. On this holy night awaken in all the world a burning desire to make peace and justice, love and joy a reality in our homes, in our town, and around the whole globe. And may we share with meaning and gusto the immortal words “God bless us, everyone”.

These things we pray in the name of the baby who now lies in the manger, the child who later taught his friends to pray together saying:
Our Father, who art in heaven…

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