Nutcracker on Christmas TreeHeavenly Father, the first thing I’d like to do in my prayer today is to thank you for sending your son, Jesus Christ our Lord, into the world.  He didn’t have to come, but it was a choice he made, in a divine conspiracy with you and the Holy Spirit to rescue us.  It must have been an act of love and passion, because I can’t think of any reason why the creator of all that is, who lives in perfect trinitarian fellowship, would want to live amongst us.  We are so contaminated with hate, jealousy, pride, violence, greed, lust, and intolerance that it is hard for me to think about how jolting it must have been for you.  Yet in love you chose, in Messiah Jesus, to live as one of us, just as we do–coughing, bleeding, with fatigue, soreness, blisters, sweat and snot.  I don’t pretend to understand how you did it, how you were human and still God, how you were the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as three different persons but one God, but I believe, just as those who have come before me, that you indeed did it.  You lived like us, and you died like us.  Mystery is the only way I can describe it, and love is the only explanation I have for it, so I thank you.

It feels like every Christmas I end up asking you for some of the same things.  The locations change, but the requests are the same.  I ask, O Lord, that you help us find some way of bringing peace in the world.  I ask that wars and strivings cease in far away places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and in Central Africa.  I ask that ISIS, al Qaeda, the LRA and other oppressive militaristic groups be defeated.  I ask that violence end, that peace flourish, and hope erupt.

There are many issues here, though, within the borders of the nation I love that are hard to imagine.  Somehow, Almighty God, show us how to achieve a justice and equitable society in which criminals are punished but the innocent are not unjustly beaten or killed.  We have a severe lack of trust that stems from generations of suspicion, fear, racism, crime, and the politics of division.  Please forgive us of our past and help us make a future so that we never have reason to see protests on the streets of America again.

I have a spiritual request too, Lord God.  I fear that ‘church,’ or what passes for church, has lost its way.  At one extreme it can look like a neurotic control freak trying to tell everyone else what to do.  At the other extreme it often looks like a lethargic glutton who will not get off the couch.  Neither one of these is good.  I pray that you bring a new generation of leadership with the boldness to call us out on our sins of selfishness, and then lead us to a better way.  I love the church, but fear we are on a path of self-destruction.  Save us from ourselves.

Things seem to have gotten a little better, Lord, in the last couple of years, but I know that many people are hungry, economically distressed, unemployed, and broke this Christmas season.  Help those who want jobs to find jobs, bring relief to those who have ended up on the wrong end of the economic field, and allow honest businesses to thrive.  I intercede also for those caught on the struggle of a political border between two nations–one wealthy and one not.  I pray for all immigrants, that they would find what they need.  I ask that our politicians gain the courage to formulate policy that makes sense and which is true to our highest ideals.  How ironic, Lord, that immigration is on my mind as we celebrate the birth of Jesus–who lived as an immigrant during his toddler years.  It is kinda sad, Lord.  Help us to do better, I know we can.

For many people Christmas has become all about family, tradition, and nostalgia.  I reject those as spiritually inadequate for the grandness of the miracle of the incarnation, nevertheless I am grateful for my family, our family traditions, and the memories of those who are no longer with us but who rest in eternity.  I ask that this Christmas be one of joy, laughter, and rich spiritual meaning.  In the name of Jesus I ask, submitting to his divine will and certain that whatever good I imagine or ask for is far less than his desire for peace, hope, goodness, and love in this world.  Amen.


This is my Christmas Prayer for 2013


Dear Lord God, as we near the blessed day when we remember the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord, there are many things to seek your guidance and protection about.  First, I pray for all those people who are traveling–that you would guide them safely to their destination and then safely home again.  Just as you guided Mary and Joseph and the unborn Christ in their journeys so long ago, so too protect people  in cars, trains, and airplanes.  I likewise intercede for those who serve the public good:  Teachers, nurses, doctors, EMT’s, first responders, police, air traffic controllers, and so many more than I could ever name.  Grant these sacrificial souls a blessed and joyful Christmas.

I also pray, Lord, for families as they gather together.  Many people will be missing loved ones who are dead–recent deaths or the stinging pain of death that remains our whole lives.  For these I ask that you comfort and bring the kind of peace that is beyond description and beyond understanding.  Sometimes these family gatherings can be tense, so I ask that peace be made between moms and dads, parents and children, brothers and sisters, as well as in-laws and cousins.  Where there is strife, Holy Spirit, please pave the way for reconciliation during this season of reconciliation.

I pray for those who this year will be displaced for one reason or another.  Many people are homeless, and will have a warm bed and decent meal only because of the generosity of someone else, and I pray that generosity abound.    I ask that you help these individuals to improve their situation, to work, earn money, and provide for themselves so that next year they will be providing for themselves or even helping others.  Many of these displaced are children–and I ask that these children be well fed and cared for, and that their future be brighter than their present.  Many people are sick from illness or disease, and some even may have a faint awareness this is their last Christmas in this lifetime.  I ask for healing, well being, and joy for these.

Our world is mired in troubles, Lord.  We are far from beating any swords into plowshares.  Instead, conflict seems to be everywhere.  I pray that in far away places like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Israel, Sudan, China, the Koreas and many other places Lord that there be peacemakers who will bravely insist that war and battles are futile.  In the meantime, Father, our land has many of our finest men and women deployed around globe seeking to preserve liberty and security and I thank you for them and their service.  I ask that this Christmas, that even though they are far away, they feel not only your presence, but the deepest and warmest sentiment from their loved ones at home.

Finally, father, I pray for the church at Christmas.  So often we lose sight of the meaning as we work ourselves into frenzies with pageants, programs, services and service that we forget the simplicity and profound beauty of what Christmas is and means.  We are smart enough to know Lord, that you were not really born on December 25 and that all the images we sanitize about your birthday are idealized, but we do believe you were born, of a virgin, in the line of David, in a lonely barn surrounded by elements of your own creation for the purpose of bringing redemption to the world.  In the same way we celebrate that by the power of your Holy Spirit, each day we are born again anew into the world as your body to serve every element of your creation.

In the name of the Son Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father.  Amen.