A Prayer for Christmas

'Sometimes you are the warm, luminous light of a candle that comforts and reassures – a Christmas candle touching our hearts with peace'

Praise to you, O living Word, for you give the gift of our world. You are the creating one through whom ancient Laurentian mountains have their craggy existence. By your imaginative power, forests of black spruce, larch and balsam grow along ridges of granite and gneiss. By your gracious creativity, lynx and porcupine make their fleet-footed or lumbering way through habitats long called home. “All, at a Word, has become this almost overwhelming loveliness” (Margaret Avison).

Praise to you, O living Word, who has been born, like us, in a rush of blood and water – vulnerable, with your mother, in your passage into this world. The love displayed in your birth is an accompanying love that risks pain and loss and cold and homelessness, even as you are warmly received into the arms of Mary. This young woman who has borne God, leads you into a beautiful and fearful world, teaching you the prayers of your people along the way. You have learned from her; you are yourself with her and the people to whom she belongs. You find yourself, and are yourself, in relation to the God who makes covenant with this people.

Praise to you, O living Word, for you are the showing forth of God’s glory. In your speaking, the magnificence of God is heard. In your face, the beauty of God is seen. In your living, the grandeur of God is made apparent. We had always expected God’s glory to be otherworldly, almost unimaginable, yet here you are in time and space. God’s grandeur in a bawling baby. Glory to God in the highest; Glory to God in an unremarkable Lord alongside us.

Praise to you, O living Word, by whom we have our lives within temporal rhythms. In the recurrence of seasons and celebrations your persistent faithfulness is on display. When the nativity set is pulled again from shelf and storage, and when angel, shepherd and manger are lifted again from crumpled paper, your constancy is embodied. When we are carried for a few moments by otherworldly melody and lyrics, “I wonder as I wander, out under the sky,” your love meets us in the duration of soundwaves – your grace encounters us in the time of voices and instruments building, sustaining and fading.

Praise to you, O living Word, wisdom of God revealed in human life. In the simplicity of coins lost, of seeds planted, of treasures buried, of a child wandering, you bring the wisdom of God to our hearts and minds. In your teaching and serving and living and dying is revealed a wisdom that sets everything at odd angles – your wisdom is more like modern art that confounds us than like the comforting pastoral scenes to which we are drawn. You display and embody a wisdom that is decidedly not our wisdom. Veni, O Sapientia. Come to us, O wisdom of God.

Praise to you, O living Word, for you are the light of the world; the light that shines in the darkness. Sometimes you are the warm, luminous light of a candle that comforts and reassures – a Christmas candle touching our hearts with peace. Sometimes you are a cold, luminescent light that starkly reveals the truth of our world. As we joyfully celebrate your coming, may we have courage to step into your luminescence, to discover the ways our celebrations miss the mark of your grace. Reveal to us our failure to seek reconciliation, our preoccupation with self, and our forgetfulness of others. Be to us the light of life, that we might share your life with others.

All praise to you, O living Word, O Gracious and loving Christ, in this season of Christmas and always. We pray by the grace of the Spirit, who with you and the Father is together worshipped and glorified, now and always. Amen. 

Author

  • Roland De Vries is Director of Pastoral Studies at The Presbyterian College, Montreal, and a Lecturer in the School of Religious Studies at McGill University. He teaches in a variety of areas including Missional Theology, Reformed Tradition, and Global Christianity. He also has a keen interest in explorations at the point of intersection between church and culture. Roland and his wife Rebecca live in Montreal with their three children.

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