This is the season when we celebrate God’s great Christmas gift, Jesus. The Creator who is larger than our imagination chose to come to us in the form of a baby. The all-powerful God chose to come to us as a vulnerable child born in a stable—to live our life and to die our death so that we might be saved through him. The characters in this great love story cooperate with God in delivering the wondrous gift. Mary says yes to God’s call to conceive a son. Joseph said yes when God called him to marry his pregnant fiancé. The shepherds heard the angels’ message and immediately went to see the newborn savior. The wisemen faithfully followed the star across vast distances to find the newborn king. The Christmas story is about receiving God’s gift of Jesus and it is a story of ordinary people saying “yes” to God and participating with God in touching the world. Each year, we re-experience the story in so many different forms—through words, music, ornaments, nativity scenes, Christmas plays, and cantatas, and it reminds us of who God is and how much God loves us and it reminds us of who we are called to be. As we once again celebrate Christ’s birth, this is my prayer for you, your loved ones and your church families:
As we experience this Christmas, Loving God, when the light of a star penetrates to our very hearts, when faith’s bold hope is fulfilled at our waiting’s end, when heavenly hosts still sing beyond the silence of the night, and a baby’s cry proclaims your presence. We give our thanks.
The narrative we hear in this season is your story, to be sure; but in our hearing each year, it is newborn and becomes our story as well. Grant us, we pray, the grace to be Christmas people, receptive in spirit and responsive indeed. Enable us to have the energetic faith of the shepherds. May we set aside our priorities for yours as readily as the shepherds did. May our fears never prevent us from seeking out and proclaiming the wondrous things you do.
Guide us toward the alert faith of the wise men. May we respond to Christ with generous offerings of worship and precious gifts of time and talents. May we
boldly stand against modem-day Herods whose death-dealing devices are threatened by the Lord of life.
Fill us with the trusting faith of Joseph. May we hear of your surprising ways with a willingness to redirect our own ideas. May our obedience be as startling as what you ask of us.
Renew us with the reflective and active faith of Mary. May we devote ourselves to the creative pondering we so often neglect. May our labors of peacemaking and loving kindness mark us as bearers of Christ.
We look upon the Christ who came to be with us, and we sense that a living faith is much like that living child: fragile, yet durable; ordinary, yet miraculous; wonderful as is, yet born to grow. Keep us, gracious God, as Christmas people in our world. May Christ, through us, make known the ongoing good news of your love for all humankind. With gratitude for your great gift of Christmas- Jesus. Amen. *
(*The prayer is by Glen E. Rainsley. Reprinted by permission of the publisher from Words of Worship: Resources for Church and Home by Glen E. Rainsley, Copyright 1991 The Pilgrim Press.)