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This is the first Sunday of Christmas, A Season of Celebration! When you hear the words, “God who has come among us,” please respond with “Hear our prayers

This year our Family was gifted a very special Advent Calendar. It contains beautiful poetry, artwork, and readings in the theme of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. In this beautiful book, we learned about Santa Barbara’s Day on December 4th. You might know about her? The story of Santa Barbara is a bit harsh as are many early Christian stories, but there is a cool practice that goes along with this special day. Part of the story of Santa Barbara involves a cherry branch that blows in through the window, she puts the branch in water and it blooms. So, the practice involves cutting a branch of cherry and placing it in the house in a container of water. If it blooms right on December 25th it is believed to bring good fortune for the year. We happen to have plum trees in our yard, so we cut a branch of plum and put it in a vase in the house. We were pretty skeptical, even our resident gardener. That branch looked pretty dormant and for many days showed no signs of blooming. Then all of a sudden it bloomed on December 21st. Not Christmas Day but Solstice, so I’m going to think it is pretty good luck as well.

Now we have these beautiful plum blossoms as part of our Christmas decorations and I think that they are the perfect symbol for the newborn Christ child, Emmanuel, God among us. God who has come among us…   Hear our prayers.

During this Christmas season of Joy and Celebration, we all feel so many different feelings. Especially this year when we were not able to celebrate in our usual ways. So, while we are sometimes feeling Joyful and Contented, at other times we might feel disappointed or let down. That’s OK, Jesus is here with us regardless. God who has come among us…   Hear our prayers.

In our Pacific Mountain Regional Prayer cycle, we pray for Boundary Pastoral charge, which includes Christina Lake, Grand Forks, and Greenwood.  In our World Council of Churches prayer cycle, we pray for Stateless People: those people who due to persecution of some kind are not able to live in their own countries and are forced to flee as refugees or migrants.

This is a prayer written by Graceila Griffith of the Philippines.

Prayer on waiting
Lord Jesus, I am tired.
Tired of waiting to be able to live normally,
tired of being chased,
tired of hiding and living in constant fear of being caught,
tired of being discriminated against and looked down upon,
tired of being taken advantage of and, at times,
a victim of abuse.
Corrupt systems and injustices have thrown me into a box,
where all I can do is to wait.
I am tired of waiting, Lord.
So Father, come in my restlessness.
Come in my hopelessness and bitterness.
Help me to be hopeful, joyful, and faithful.
Holy Spirit, help me to be resourceful, creative, and to grow in this place
that you have placed me.
It’s hard to see what your plan is for me,
but help me to see beyond my circumstances.
Remind me daily that I’m walking towards eternity,
where I can be home at last.

God who has come among us…   Hear our prayers.

Loving God, we pray for our Bienestar partners involved in our outreach project in Guatemala. We pray for our brothers & sisters at Nyanyadzi Methodist Church in Zimbabwe. We pray for Peacemakers and peacekeepers, health care workers, teachers, engineers, and the many who serve throughout the world through many organizations. We pray for all affected by COVID-19, whether in body, mind, or spirit. We pray for LGBTQ2SIA+ people who are persecuted in many countries. We pray for the future of our environment; protecting and respecting this gift of creation. We pray for our families and friends. Keep them safe and protected, of sound mind and strong and healthy body. Help them to feel your love and care, and the care of their communities. We pray for all those named in our Prayer List… And now we can name silently or aloud the names of others that we wish to pray for…   …God who has come among us…   Hear our prayers.

Jesus God, your birth in a stable 2000 years ago was a miracle. Help us to be aware of the small miracles that take place all around us. The miracle of dormant plum blossoms burst into bloom. The miracle of warm homes. The miracle of friendship. The miracle of music and the spoken word transmitted through a Wi-Fi signal. 

Help us to remember that you God, are always with us. You are all around us and we can see your love and presence in the little things. For this, we are so grateful.

Amen.

 

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