God of all times and all places, we stand on the brink of a new year. Many of us harboring hopes for better days ahead. We want to leave the difficulties of 2013 behind and start new when that ball drops. Yet, we are probably not heeding Isaiah’s advice and recounting your gracious deeds and praiseworthy acts. It is by your mercy that we gather as the body of Christ. Open our eyes to all that you have done for us.
Just days ago, we welcomed you anew into our lives. We sang carols and lit candles in honor of the One whose light shines in our darkness. Many of us have already forgotten the promise of Christ. We’ve packed away our decorations and moved on, away from the vulnerability of the manger. We don’t want to think of the innocents slaughtered then… or now. The news reports of war, violence, and political unrest disturb us. We do not want to know about the children who have died in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Egypt and countless other places. You are the Prince of Peace who can guide our feet in the way of peace. Let us turn away no longer. Shine your light in us and through us that we might become the way of peace here and now.
Ever faithful God, you wait patiently for us to come to you. You hear our songs of praise and wait until the familiar words touch our hearts and transform our lives. You are not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters even when we hesitate to speak your name. That manger in Bethlehem was not meant just for the wise ones who come bearing gifts but also for those who show up with nothing more than a yearning for life. Our decisions about who you love and who is welcome in your sanctuary are meaningless. You came into the world to seek and to save the lost, even those of us who’ve gotten lost on the way to Bethlehem. In this Christmas season reveal to us the radical inclusion of your love. Show us how to open our doors wide enough to let all your children enter in.
You call us to trust in you but we often forget to rely on your grace. The echos of lamentation and weeping make us want to hide rather than step out boldly bearing witness to the light that cannot be overcome by any darkness. As we face this new year, we pray for courage, the courage of Joseph who trusted you more than we can comprehend… The courage of Mary who brought you into the world for us… Grant us the courage to tend the fire of new life given to us once again. May we comfort those who weep and walk with those who lament, carrying hope for those unable to carry it for themselves.
Holy One who reveals our humanity, we are grateful for your overwhelming love for us. We yearn to make this year a year when your name will be praised and proclaimed in our congregations. We want to walk with you on a path of peace, letting go of those things we no longer need, making room for those who might want to join us as we seek to serve you. Let this year be a time of transformation for us, for our neighbors, for strangers, and for all those innocents who have yet to walk through our doors. By your grace and mercy, may we, the body of Christ right now, be the agents of your hope, peace, joy, and love.
With grateful hearts we pray in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
RCL – Year A – First Sunday After Christmas – December 29, 2013
Isaiah 63:7-9 with