Prayers of the People
—December 24

Pray with me:  God we come looking for you tonight.  Some of us come with expectations and others with skepticism.  Some of us are confident of the future and your presence, while others of us are not sure why we come year after year.  Here we are, your people in all sorts of sorts.  Gather us in.  Welcome us home.  Open our hearts to know you are always with us.

There always seems to be too much to do.  Year end numbers to make.  Projects yet to finish.  We have so much to do in parties and dinner.  People who want our time.  Family to see.  It’s not that we don’t care or regret how full our lives are, but we are so caught up in doing we lose track of what is it like to just be.  Remind us when we are running full tilt, to pause.  Give us permission to just be still and know that you alone are God.  We thank  you for giving us life, sustaining our lives, and promising to redeem us from your gracious love.

We hear “Peace on earth, good will towards men” on recorded loops at the mall.  But, we also hear all the words and weapons we sling at each other.  It seems so toxic at times.  Right now “peace on earth” does not seem possible.  So we ask you to bind the tongues of hate.  Tune our hearts to mercy and justice, not discrimination and discord.  Help us to listen to one another with a willingness to be transformed to work toward your good as walked by our savior, Jesus.  You came that we might learn the way of peace, again.  Teach us, again.

Thank you for the gifts of family and friends, those who love us into being and always take us in.  You have richly blessed us, help us to be blessings to those around us.  God, you know those with whom we are estranged, relationships that have been violated with words and memories of wounds.  Where an abyss has grown, be in the space between, be in the possibility of reconciliation.

Tonight is struggle for some. Comfort those who mourn the loss of a loved one. Be with those who are lonely.

Heal those who are suffering from accidents, disease, memory loss, and age.  Salve wounds and erase pain.

God, remind us Jesus is not an abstract person, a walking theology, or a list of do’s and dont’s. He was you.  And all he really wanted was for our lives to be full of love and health and wholeness. And when life was hard, he did not leave anyone’s side.  Help us recognize Jesus as our brother, friend, and companion who will never leave our side.

Capture our hearts this night that we may leave this sanctuary transformed by the story of your love for the world, that we become messengers of peace and hope and joy and love by the way we live.  We join our voices, united in the prayer your son taught….