Christmas Eve, December 24, 2007
Offered by Dana Ferguson, Executive Associate Pastor
Mighty Counselor, Everlasting Light, Prince of Peace, Shepherd of the World’s People, our place is no longer what it was, for you have come into this world to give love a name. We welcome this night the one who has come to show us the way and who is the way. We welcome the newborn one whose life will never cease, who weaves joy out of despair and love out of hatred.
The waiting of Advent is over. Yet the waiting of this world carries on. We pray for people where this story began—for those living in and around Bethlehem who have long prayed to welcome peace. For the people of Jerusalem and Palestine, of Gaza and the West Bank. And we pray this night for those who long for a silent night—for the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, of Darfur and Africa. We pray for those for whom the silence is deafening, those who sit around table eager to welcome loved ones home and those for whom tomorrow will not bring home their loved ones or resurrect their homeland. And so we pray with new determination, the words of old. Peace on earth. Peace on earth. O little one of Bethlehem, bring it soon. Bring it to this world as it has never known it before—to each and every one of us, to our hearts and our homes, to our lands and to this world.
The cry of a baby in the night signals to us hope and salvation for all the world. We who have sat in darkness, in the shadow of death, on us light has shined. So make this place no longer what it was, Shepherd of the world’s people. Give us grace to live kindly; give us grace to live justly; give us grace to live truth; give us grace to live in health of body and health of mind. When health fails, give us grace to serve each other; give us grace to live in love. And when death comes, give us grace to comfort each other in the promise of life and give us grace to know an interval of laughter in all of our waiting.
Standing at the stable, we join our voices with those of ages past. O come, desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind; bid envy, strife, and quarrels cease; fill the whole world with heaven’s peace. O come, O come, Emmanuel. Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace to all. In the name of the one we kneel before to worship and welcome. Amen.
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church