Sunday, December 9, 2001
Offered by John H. Boyle, Parish Associate
God of our years, we give you thanks for the promise of hope the season of Advent brings as we wait for and anticipate the coming once again of the one who was and is the embodiment of your love in the world. We are still waiting, Lord. We are waiting for a war to end, for a terrorist leader and his associates to be brought to justice, for the economy to turn. We’re waiting for the time when the wolf shall lie down with the lamb and hurt and destruction will cease to be. We’re waiting for you, O God, to reveal yourself anew and afresh.
We’re still waiting, Lord, and we confess that we’re not very good at it. We’re an impatient lot, used to instant access and to getting what we want now, and waiting gets on our nerves. Strange how, when we’re not looking, you choose the most unlikely times and places to come to your world and to our hearts.
Then again, you’ve been waiting also, O God. Waiting for the fullness of time, waiting for us to get ready. Strange, too, how we thought all the waiting was ours to do. Thank you, dear God, for waiting. Teach us how to wait with hope and joy and with the confidence that you will come to us anew, even as you came to your world long ago.
God Eternal, in a world shot through with contingency and change, we have seen some of the mighty put down from their lofty perches and have witnessed those of low degree exalted. Still a great gap exists between the two. May we as your church help to bridge that gap by embracing all who seek refuge here in time of need and by challenging to a new way of life those too self-absorbed to notice the needs of others. Help us faithfully to offer the gift of welcome—even as we welcome a new colleague into our midst—and the ministry of compassion to all who find their way here and to those to whom we find our way so as to offer that gift and that ministry.
In healing mercy and with comforting grace, touch with your presence all who suffer the ravages of illness, the agony of sorrow, the anxiety of uncertainty, the loneliness of rejection, the terror of violence, and the fear of the unknown.
We pray for our nation and her leaders, for the president and his advisors, and for members of the armed forces charged with dangerous duty and exposed to threatening circumstances. Help them and us to trust in your forgiving grace so that we may live courageously with the awesome and sometimes awful ambiguity of our humanness. And keep us from becoming obsessed with the evil we resist, lest it become the god we worship and we become what we worship.
And when in general, O God, evil seems more real and present than otherwise and we are tempted to despair because there is so much death in the world, help us to revel in the particulars of life that remind us of your presence and grace: a child’s gleeful laughter as she claps her hands in wide-eyed wonder, the bracing chill of a frosty morn, the caring caress of a loving hand, the bright colors and lights on a busy avenue, strawberry jam on fresh-baked bread, and the melodious sound of a chorus of voices singing,
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!
We’re still waiting, Lord,
in the name of the one for whom we wait, even Jesus our Savior and Lord, and with the words he taught us to pray, saying, Our Father . . .
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church