Gracious and Loving God,
On this first day of Christmas, we give You thanks and praise for the birth of Jesus– Immanuel! Thank You for being with us! Thank You for coming into this world, a refugee born in a lowly manger, and turning it upside down! We give You thanks today!
We thank You that our season of expectation has not gone unanswered. You have heard our cries and pitied our moans. We have been waiting with great anticipation for a Savior to be born. Thank You, Lord, that Your faithfulness is without measure! We declare today that You are, indeed:
- Mighty God,
- Everlasting Father,
- Prince of Peace!
We celebrate today that righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne and that we are a part of Your plan to bring Good News of joy and peace and good tidings to this broken and sin-filled world! We honor and give You glory today!
Yet, God, we also humbly recognize that we have fallen short. We have not been all that You have called us to be. We have been preoccupied. We have been distracted. We have been dismissive of others’ struggles while engrossed in our own. Forgive us.
In spite of us, Your mercy endures forever! Help us to extend mercy to others in the same manner and spirit that You have given it to us. Forgive us for the places and spaces and people for whom we have not shown the mercy and love that You have so freely given to us. So many need us to be Your witnesses, not reflections of this world but those who have been called and empowered to overcome it. Help us to do better and to be better than we have been.
And, for the one who is waking up this Christmas Day overwhelmed by grief and loss; for the child whose only gift is the promise of another day; for the parent who is missing a child and for the ones who are missing parents; for the child who, like Mary giving birth in a barn, woke up in circumstances that do not reflect our understanding of Your goodness; for the one who woke up in a cage or a tent at the border, calling into question our very humanity; for the one waking up without shelter; for the one who needs rest; for those in Syria and Palestine and other war-torn lands; for the ones living in the midst of civil unrest; for the ones who aren’t sure they will have a meal, much less a Christmas dinner with family and friends; for the ones who do not recognize how privileged they are; for the ones who have used their privilege to the detriment of others; for the ones who need You to show up today like never before and grant them the peace that passes all understanding; for the ones who know Your joy but do not share Your heart for others; for the ones who need healing; for the ones who are on the brink and need a soft touch and a gentle, small voice to steer them in the right direction; for the ones who need renewed hope; for the ones who know they are an answer to the prayers of their foremothers and forefathers and for the ones who don’t; for the ones who are waiting still with great expectation; for these and for all of Your people, God, we do pray and ask that You would move in a mighty and miraculous way.
You know what each of us stands in need of. We pray, O God, that You would be present today in the lives of Your people, regardless of how many presents there are under a tree, or on a table or piled in a corner. We pray that Your willingness to wrap Yourself in humanity, to enter into this messy and cruel world–and into our chaotic and crazy lives–sacrificing it all for us, would take on new meaning today and inspire and encourage us all, especially those in desperate need of it right now.
These things we ask in the Name of the One who has come to give new meaning to life and living and who promises to come again, Jesus. Amen.