Pastoral Prayer, Advent 4

Most Gracious God, we pause now to be in conversation with You through prayer. And we begin by giving You thanks for the wonder of Your creation. Even those of us with a preference for a warmer climate must admit that yesterday’s falling snow, the earth
covered in white, and the sounds of children playing, were a gift of beauty and delight.

Lord, we are aware, and we know, this is the season when we should be most focused on Your gift of love in our lives and world. But there is so much to do! Christmas shopping, preparing our home for guests, finishing those Christmas cards, the to-do list feels endless!

And there is much weighing us down this season as well. We know of family members and friends concerned about sick loved ones. There are parents unable to afford that one gift they know their child would enjoy most. Some families are going through the motions of Christmas as they experience this season for the first time after the death of a loved one, or following the pain of divorce. Our country is polarized and anxious. And then there is Aleppo, Syria, where the pain and the suffering are beyond our comprehension, and the people cry out to no avail.

Lord, it would seem this to be the perfect time for us to consider once again that beautiful Christmas story. How it was in the midst of a corrupt Roman Empire that a humble child was born. And how he wasn’t born among the influential, but among the dirty shepherds and the smelly animals. How it was in the mess of life and the chaos of the world that Your love broke through.

This Christmas, break through the mess of our lives and world once again, Holy One. Cut through the pain and bring comfort. Break into the fear and bring hope. Come into the violence and war, and bring justice and peace. Break through the lives of hurting families and bring new joy. Where there is judgment, bring understanding. Where there is arrogance, bring humility. Where there is hate, sow love.

And finally, Lord, slow us down. Lift up our eyes from our tasks to see You abiding with us. Tune our ears to Your voice. Make us pause in awe and wonder. And inspire us to join you in the healing of this broken world. It is in Christ’s name that we pray. Amen.

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