Story-telling God, tonight we gathered together to tell the old old story.
Tonight we listen for angels and shepherds and a baby’s cry.
Tonight we look to the old story and ask that you would be born in us again this year.
Tonight, this year, God, we listen for the story of PEACE
Peace in a world so given to conflict.
All year we have heard the stories of the ways things go badly.
This night, and in the year to come, open our ears to the other stories,
the stories of the kind and good things people have done and are doing for each other.
And in hearing those stories may we be re-committed to our own acts of kindness,
the small ways we can make “Peace on earth, Goodwill to all” a reality.
Tonight, this year, God, we listen for the story of HOPE
Hope in a world that gives us so many reasons to despair.
Tell us, we pray, the stories that lie beyond the despair.
When the world falls apart at the seams,
remind us that you are there as we stand in the wreckage,
helping us to pick up the broken pieces.
Open our hearts to feel your presence,
open our souls to the possibility of new hope, new life.
Tonight, this year, God, we listen for the story of JOY
Joy in a world where so many struggle and grieve.
Life does not always go as we had planned,
some days it feels like life never goes as we had planned.
Help us find the possibility of joy both on the good days and the bad.
When the bad news makes us depressed, show us the Good News hiding in the shadows,
and let that Good News fill our heart with joy again.
Tonight, this year, God, we listen for the story of LOVE
Love in a world so full of fear and hatred.
You would have us act lovingly to friend and family and enemy.
In a world where love is so sorely needed, help us all take the risk to live.
Show us the drama of love enacted in our community.
Help us bear the wounds and scars that may come with being vulnerable, open and loving.
And when love seems too hard,
help us remember that we can love others because we are loved with a love that will not let us go.
As we gaze at the baby in the manger,
may we see Your amazing love for the world shining across the miles and centuries.
And may that love fill our own hearts to overflowing.
This year, this night, God, we listen for the story of CHRIST
The story of You coming to share our lives.
The story of You coming to change our world.
The story of love and hope, of peace and joy.
A story that happened a long time ago in a place far away,
a story that happens in this very place this very day.
Help us, God, to hear the story, help us, God, to welcome the baby,
Help us, God, to live into the new world that Christmas brings.
We pray in the name of the Baby who lies in the manger.
Joy to the World! The Lord is Come!
So Be It! AMEN