Christmas and Advent Prayers

 

 

Christmas Prayer 1

Not gold, nor myrrh, nor even frankincense
would I have for you this season,
but simple gifts, the ones that are hardest to find,
the ones that are perfect,
even for those who have everything (if such there be).
I would (if I could)
have for you the gift of courage,
the strength to face the gauntlets
only you can name,
and the firmness in your heart to know
that you (yes, you!) can be a bearer of the quiet dignity
that is the human glorified.
I would (if by my intention I could make it happen)
have for you the gift of connection,
the sense of standing on the hinge of time,
touching past and future
standing with certainty that you (yes, you!)
are the point where it all comes together.
I would (if wishing could make it so)
have for you the gift of community,
a nucleus of love and challenge,
to convince you in your soul
that you (yes, you!) are a source of light
in a world too long believing in the dark.
Not gold, nor myrrh, nor even frankincense,
would I have for you this season,
but simple gifts, the ones that are hardest to find,
the ones that are perfect,
even for those who have everything (if such there be).
-Rev. Maureen Killoran

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Christmas Prayer 2

Give us, O God, the vision which can see Your love in the world in spite of human failure.
Give us the faith to trust Your goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness.
Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts.
And show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of universal peace.
-Frank Borman

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Christmas Prayer 3

Lord, in this holy season of prayer and song and laughter, we praise you for the great wonders you have sent us: for shining star and angel's song, for infant's cry in lowly manger. We praise you for the Word made flesh in a little Child. We behold his glory, and are bathed in its radiance.

Be with us as we sing the ironies of Christmas, the incomprehensible comprehended, the poetry made hard fact, the helpless Babe who cracks the world asunder. We kneel before you shepherds, innkeepers, wise men. Help us to rise bigger than we are. Amen.

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Christmas Prayer 4

Ant. A light shall shine upon us this day: for our Lord is born to us; and He shall be called Wonderful, God, the Prince of peace, the Father of the world to come, of Whose kingdom there shall be no end.


V. A child is born to us.

R. And to us a Son is given.

Let us pray.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord our God, that we who rejoice in celebrating the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ may deserve by holiness of life to attain unto fellowship with Him. Who liveth and reigneth forever and ever. Amen.

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Christmas Prayer 5

Heavenly Father,
We give you praise for the ordinariness of Christmas -
that the day comes the same as any other day.
We give you praise that there is no sign in the heavens, and no bright star but the light of your presence in the ordinary birth of the child.
We give you praise that unobtrusively you are in the center of human affairs, involved in the struggle of life, and sharing human experience.
We give you praise that out of compassion you take our part, and open to us a new way of life.  We pray that this day we shall be able to see its true glory.

Contemporary Prayers for Public Worship, ed. Caryl Micklem (London: SCM Press, 1971), 113.

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Christmas Prayer 6

Father, our complex industrial society looks for a word from you, and finds this simple pastoral scene of shepherds and a stable.  Show your Church whether it's any good our going on telling the world this particular story.
We love it, of course.  We've loved it since the Church first told it to us, when we were children.  But it hasn't particularly helped us to grow up in wisdom as fast as we grew up in stature.
We thank you for the nostalgia we feel when we hear the Christmas story: but please, our Father, don't let us enjoy the nostalgia too much, in case it encourages us to let our whole religion be an anachronism - something that belongs to a different time in our lives from the time we're now living in, so that we have to waste precious time thinking how to bring it back into the present again.
Teach us that your Son is here, not there.  Remind us that the gospel is in the fact of Christ, not in his setting; and that the story about his birth does not add up to very much without the story of his claims, his deeds, his death, and his disciples.
Father, you have brought each of us here together on the strength of some vision of your glory already seen; and in this we are not so unlike the shepherds.  Help us, then, so to approach Bethlehem that our vision may be verified for us, as theirs was for them.  May we, too, become part of the story of Christ's life.  For his sake.

Contemporary Prayers for Public Worship, ed. Caryl Micklem (London: SCM Press, 1971), 113-114.

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Christmas Prayer 7 (Christmas Eve)

There is nothing I can give you which you have not;
But there is much, very much, that while I cannot give,
You can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
Take heaven!
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant.
Take peace!
The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our
Reach is joy.
Take joy!
There is a radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see,
And to see we have only to look.
I beseech you to look!
Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by the covering,
Cast them away as ugly, or heavy, or hard.
Remove the covering and you will find beneath it a living splendor,
Woven of love, by wisdom, with power.
Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel?s hand
That brings it to you.
Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty
Believe me, that angel?s hand is there, the gift is there,
And the wonder of an overshadowing presence.
Our joys, too, be not content with them as joys.
They, too, conceal diviner gifts.
Life is so full of meaning and purpose,
So full of beauty ?beneath its covering-
That you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.
And so, at this time, I greet you.
Not quite as the world sends greetings,
But with profound esteem
And with the prayer that for you, now and forever,
The day breaks, and all the shadows flee away.
-Fra Giovanni
(Christmas Eve, 1513 A.D.)

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Christmas Prayer 8

But the Bethlehem star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art Holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and always,
Now begin, on Christmas day.
 
Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J
 

 


 

Prayer to Jesus in the Manger

O divine redeemer Jesus Christ, prostrate before thy crib, I believe thou art the God of infinite majesty, even though I do see thee here as a helpless babe. I humbly adore and thank thee for having so humbled thyself for my salvation as to will to be born in a stable. I thank thee for all thou didst wish to suffer for me in Bethlehem, for thy poverty and humility, for thy nakedness, tears, cold and sufferings.

Would that I could show thee that tenderness which thy virgin mother had toward thee, and love thee as she did. Would that I could praise thee with the joy of the angels, that I could kneel before thee with the faith of St. Joseph, the simplicity of the shepherds. Uniting myself with these first adorers at the crib, I offer thee the homage of my heart, and I beg that thou wouldst be born spiritually in my soul. Make me reflect in some degree the virtues of thy admirable nativity. Fill me with that spirit of renunciation, of poverty, of humility, which prompted thee to assume the weakness of our nature, and to be born amid destitution and suffering.Grant that from this day forward, I may in all things seek thy greater glory, and may enjoy that peace promised to men of good will.

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We Greet Your Coming

We greet your coming, God, with wonder:
You come to be with us; yet you remain far greater than we can imagine.
You are near; yet your wisdom sets you apart from us.
You appear among us; yet we cannot describe your glory.

We greet your coming, God, with repentance:
We are more or less satisfied with ourselves; but your presence exposes our sin and failure.
We are self-confident; but you challenge our confidence in ourselves.
We are proud of our understanding; but you show us that we do not know everything.

We greet your coming, God, with joy:
We had no true idea of what you are like; but you have shown us yourself in Jesus Christ.
We felt our human life could be of no importance to you; but you have shown its value by appearing among us as a man.
We are aware of the gulf between us and you; but you have bridged it with love.

God, we greet your coming in Jesus Christ our Lord!

 

 

Contemporary Prayers for Public Worship, ed. Caryl Micklem (London: SCM Press, 1971), 111-112.

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Christmas Day Table Prayer

Lord God of Life,
together with the beautiful traditions
of decorating the Christmas tree,
of singing carols and giving gifts,
this Christmas dinner is an important part
of our celebration of the birth
of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Come, Lord our God,
and surround our feast day table
as we delight in this joyous season of Christmas.
Gift us in this meal with the taste of happiness
as we savor this coming together
of family and friends.
As sparkling stars and singing angels rejoiced
at the birth of the Christ Child in Bethlehem,
so may we take great joy
in this our Christmas dinner-celebration.

May You, our God, bless it and us
in Your holy name.
Amen.

Hays, Edward, Prayers for the Domestic Church: A Handbook for Worship in the Home (Kansas: Forest of Peace Books, 1979), 123.

 

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I Am There

Now God says to us
What He has already said to the earth as a whole
Through His grace-filled birth:

I am there. I am with you.
I am your life. I am your time.
I am the gloom of your daily routine. Why will you not hear it?
I weep your tears - pour yours out to me.

I am your joy.
Do not be afraid to be happy; ever since I wept, joy is the standard of living
That is really more suitable than the anxiety and grief of those who have no hope.

I am the blind alley of all your paths,
For when you no longer know how to go any farther,
Then you have reached me, 
Though you are not aware of it.

I am in your anxiety, for I have shared it.
I am in the prison of your finiteness,
For my love has made me your prisoner.

I am in your death,
For today I began to die with you, because I was born,
And I have not let myself be spared any real part of this experience.

I am present in your needs;
I have suffered them and they are now transformed.

I am there.
I no longer go away from this world.
Even if you do not see me now, I am there.

My love is unconquerable.
I am there.
It is Christmas.
Light the Candles! They have more right to exist then all the darkness.
It is Christmas.
Christmas that lasts forever.

-Karl Rahner, S.J.
The Eternal Year

 

Advent Prayer 1

Lord God, we adore you because you have come to us in the past.
You have spoken to us in the Law of Israel.
You have challenged us in the words of the prophets.
You have shown us in Jesus what you are really like.

Lord God, we adore you because you still come to us now.
You come to us through other people and their love and concern for us.
You come to us through men and women who need our help.
You come to us as we worship you with your people.

Lord God, we adore you because you will come to us at the end.
You will be with us at the hour of death.
You will still reign supreme when all human institutions fail.
You will still be God when our history has run its course.

We welcome you, the God who comes.
Come to us now in the power of Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

 

Contemporary Prayers for Public Worship, ed. Caryl Micklem (London: SCM Press, 1971), 111.

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Advent Reflection

In one sense we are always traveling, and traveling as if we did not know where we are going.

In another sense we have already arrived.

We cannot arrive at the perfect possession of God in this life, and that is why we are traveling and we travel in darkness. But we already possess God by grace, and therefore, in that sense, we have arrived and are dwelling in the light.

But oh! How far have I to go to find You in Whom I have already arrived!

-Thomas Merton: Dialogues with Silence (p.13)

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