Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Prayer for 2015

God of Hope,
it is hard to be hopeful.
Our news feeds seem intent on filling us with fear and despair.
And yet when the darkness of despair threatens to win the day you respond with words of hope. “Comfort, comfort ye my people... God will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep”
Keep the vision of the Kingdom in our hearts and minds, make us into people of hope,
and help us carry hope into those shadowed places of the world where despair seems to be winning.
And so we hold in out hearts those who need hope in their lives
...time of silence...

God of Peace,
Mass shootings, ISIS offensives and refugees, armed robberies and murders in our city, more and more people struggling to hold the chequebook in the black.
So many things this year make peace seem like a dream, a faint possibility, a wish made on a falling star.
We yearn for peace, we desperately need signs of peace, even as we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace.
Move in our hearts, gracious God, fill us to overflowing with Christ's peace, that we would be able to share that peace with everyone we meet.
With expectant hearts, we look forward to that day when peace is more than just a word, when the wolf will lie down with the lamb and they will not hurt or destroy on all the holy mountain.
...time of silence...

God of Love,
All we need is love, so the song tells us.
Love is the great commandment, the power that keeps us growing.
In love you break into our world, coming to live among us as one of us.
In love you challenge us to live love with each other: family and stranger, friend and enemy.
This Christmas season, in a world which tries to make us afraid, remind us that love casts out and defeats fear, remind us not to be afraid.
And so fill our very beings with love that it spills onto everyone in our lives.
May love be the keystone, the guiding principle, of our lives, at Christmas and all the year through.
As we hold in our hearts those we love, and all those around the world who are hungry for love
...time of silence...

God of Joy,
in sanctuaries and living rooms and village squares around the globe people are singing songs of joy.
We have heard and shared the Good News of Great Joy for all the people.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come!
And yet...
in every corner of the globe tonight there are people who find joy a distant, uncommon visitor.
People struggle for life's needs, people sit with loved ones lying in sickbeds, people live in places many of us would not be caught dead, people gather in the midst of Christmas celebrations to say farewell to a loved one, people sit alone far from family and friends.
We know the life is not always what it could be. And yet we trust that all will be well some day.
On this night, on every night, we pray with and for all those who struggle
may they know that they are not alone, may they hear the word of promise and joy and love
...time of silence...

God of Birth,
once again we hear the angel announcing:
“for unto you is born this day in the city of David a saviour who is Christ the Lord”
Once again we hear the angel chorus:
“Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth Peace”
And so we celebrate a baby born long ago. We celebrate births that happen today:
Hope born in the middle of bad news and despair.
Peace born in a world of violence and struggle and disparity.
Love born in a world of fear.
Joy born in the hearts of the broken-hearted.
For everything that is born in our midst tonight we sing songs and mutter prayers of praise and thanksgiving.
...time of silence...
These things we pray in the name of Jesus, the Babe in the manger, Emmanuel, God-With-Us

Thursday, December 10, 2015

For Christmas Eve

Stop! Listen! Do you hear it?
Hear what?
The song drifting over the snow. It started in low then it started to grow....
Yes I hear it! It sounds so happy. What does it mean?
Something wonderful has happened, A baby is born.
Let us go and see!
Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the new-born King

In the dark of winter we look for light.
We light candles to bring light into our world.
The light of Hope, of Peace, of Joy, of Love (light the four outside candles)
And now there is one light left.
On this night of glory we remember that God is born in our midst,
the Light of the world shines in our communities.
And so we light our centre candle, remembering the Babe who is the centre of our celebration, the Christ who is the centre of our faith (light centre candle)
God of angels and starlight, God of shepherds and stables, God of Christmas glory,
tonight we gather to hear the story we have heard so many times.
God who comes to live among us, God who chooses to share our joys and sorrows, to share our lives,
as we listen for angels sharing Good News awaken hope in our lives.
God who is at work in the world, as we celebrate the birth of Christ,
remind us that the Good News the angel shares is for us, for all the people.
For to US a Child is born, to Us a Son is given. May his birth-light shine in and for and through us.
Glory to God in the Highest! Amen.

The story has been told, the angel's words echo in our heads, our hearts, our souls.
We go back out into the night with a song in our hearts.
Go! Tell it on the mountain, over the fields and everywhere!
Jesus Christ is Born!
And as you go, carry the light of the Christmas glory with you,
to share with everyone we meet.
Glory to God in the highest!
And on earth, peace, goodwill among humanity. Amen.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

For January 3, 2016 -- Epiphany Sunday

There is a Light, a beacon, drawing us forward.
We are drawn toward it, like moths to a flame
In its warm glow we sing, we pray, we worship.
Here we are refreshed, here we are nourished.
And as we gather in the glow of the Christ Light we greet each other with words and signs of Christ's peace

God of Christmas,
already the angel song is fading, already we are starting to get back to our routines.
God of Christmas,
but still we want to see the child, to be reminded of the hope he brings.
God of Christmas, in this time of worship,
may we join the visitors from the East, come to honour the one who has been born to be King.
God of Christmas, after our time of worship,
send us back out to share the Good News of the season, even if there are those who would try to extinguish the hope and possibilities it brings.
This we pray in the name of the newborn King, soon to be a refugee. Amen.

God of light, like the Magi we are drawn into your light, into your presence.
Like them we want to bring our best to lay by your side.
God of light, in every age there are those who live in fear, whose lives are threatened simply because they live where and when they live.
Causing them to flee to strange new places, to make home in new communities..
God of light, when the shadows of the world loom on the horizon, when they drive people to our doors
grant us the grace, the strength, the wisdom to react appropriately, to welcome the stranger as a neighbour.
God of light, when those shadows make us afraid, when the fear makes us less than we could be.
grant us the grace, the strength, the wisdom, to choose another path.
..time of silent prayer...
The God revealed in the Christmas Child is gracious and giving. The God revealed in the manger draws us to the light with mercy and forgiveness and hospitality. The God revealed in the Christmas star helps us to shine through the shadows of life.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

We have gathered to honour the one born to be King.
We have been warmed by his light, we have been fed at his table.
We have seen him forced to flee for his life.
We have been reminded of our calling to see Christ in all those who flee for their lives
And now we leave this time of worship,
recommitting ourselves to serve Christ, renewing our pledge to live as people of love.
We go out into the world to live, to love, to serve.
We go out sure that God goes with us, in light and in dark we are not alone. Thanks be to God.

For December 20, 2015 -- Advent 4

God, our time of waiting draws longer,
we are anxious to hear the song of angels bringing Good News.
As we continue to wait and prepare,
keep our hearts filled with hope,
keep our eyes looking for peace,
keep our actions and words filled with love.
And finally,
overfill our souls with joy, joy that spreads to all we meet.
These things we pray in the name of the Baby whose birth draws nigh, who later will teach us to pray saying...

God of Joy, as the days grow shorter, as the night grows longer,
we become so aware of the darkness that threatens to overtake the world.
We read our papers, we listen to the radio, we turn on our computers,
and we wonder how we could possibly sing songs of Joy this year.
If ever there was a time when we needed you to break into the world,
it is now.
If ever there was a time we needed to hear the angels words,
it is now.
If ever there was a time we needed to join Mary in her song of hope and joy, defiance and power,
It is now.
Awaken in us the possibilities of Christmas, awaken in us the defiance of Mary, awaken in us the vision of how the world could—no, how the world WILL be.
And through your grace we can again sing of joy. Amen.

In just a few days it will happen.
The baby will be born.
Angels will sing.
The Starlight of Hope, Peace, Love and Joy will drive away the shadows.
We go now to finish getting ready.
To shop and wrap and bake and cook.
We go now to make room in our hearts,
for Emmanuel, God-With-Us to be born anew.
We go to share the Good News that is for all people, with the world around us.
A child is coming, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. Glory to God in the Highest!
And on Earth Peace. Amen.