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Sunday, December 16, 2018

"Blessed Are You, O Sovereign Lord" - 16 December 2018



Blessed are you, O Sovereign Lord, God of our ancestors: to you be praise and glory forever. You called the patriarchs and matriarchs to live by faith and to journey in the hope that you are the God of your word. May we, similarly, be obedient to your call, be ready and watchful to receive your Son and live forward in hope-filled trust and joy.

Thank you that in the fullness of time you sent your Son, born of a woman, born under the law, born into a low condition, who underwent the miseries of this life. Therefore, we implore you to look in on those who find this time of year a grief and hardship due to painful memories, sorrowful losses, adversarial family relations, broken promises, and impending privations…may the Gospel-hope ricocheting around the walls and halls in the Christmas carols, lift their hearts and faces to look up to you and rejoice in Spirit-birthed confidence.

As your Son was born in a time of great conflict, of oppression, of “might-makes-right,” of faith and religion used as a moralizing machete, of frustrated national ambitions, of revolt and rebellion, and he came as the beginning of a new way of being human; we pray that you would hear the weeping of those who are in despair; see the blood-splattered walls and streets; take notice of the horrors in our world; and guide the directions, decisions and dealings of earth’s leaders. In the words of Jeremiah, may they do “justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood” (Jeremiah 22.3). O God, hear our pleadings!

We are grateful that the Word, who was with God and was God, became flesh and dwelt among us, and that even from his infancy grace and truth came through him. We pray for your Church in all places, we pray for this congregation, as well as St. Charles Borromeo Church, St. Damien of Molokai, St Eugene’s, and St. Francis of Assisi Parish. Preside over your Church with your protection and direction; prevail within your Church to remove all heresies and schisms, to build up holy unity, and to foster wholesome compassion; and project from your Church the hope of that first Christmas, all wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger, and announced in angelic splendor. And we beg you to strengthen our Chinese brothers and sisters in Chengdu, China who have recently been arrested, intimidated and interrogated, especially Pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jang Rong. Thank you for their courage and inspiration. And please change the hearts of President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang for the good of all.

And, Father, your Son was born at the end of tiring travels and journeys. It reminds us to pray for those travelling and soon to be travelling. Keep them safe and sound going and coming. And finally, please turn our family gatherings into times of pleasure and peace. May that crabby Uncle, ornery Auntie, sour parent, angry adult child, or offended sibling be overcome by the Prince of Peace. And where we should, help us to be effective peacemakers.

Please hear our prayers, which we present to you in the name of Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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