A Christmas Prayer

Acknowledging the essence of this holy day

Almighty One,
we call You Emmanuel
because of this day.

On this magical morning
(and every Christmas morning)
we attempt to wrap our minds around a mystery
that exceeds our ability to fully understand.

You, who created the world,
visited our world as
You, who made the Milky Way,
suckled human milk from a virgin’s breast.
You, who called the seven seas into existence,
cried salty tears in need of being comforted.
You, who rested on the seventh day of creation,
slept within a feeding trough filled with hay.

On this Christmas Day,
we recall the extraordinary strides You took
stepping across time and space
in order to experience life-with-us.
Laying aside Your glory,
You clothed Yourself in our skin exposing Yourself
to the sin of our making.

And after two-thousand years the sin of our making
continues to manifest itself all around us.
Having endured our human condition,
You ache with us, God.

But on those silent nights
when Your presence seems absence,
remind us that You personally relate to our plight
as we suffer in silence.

Admittedly, while we sing “Joy to the World,”
there is not much joy in our world.
Homelessness and hunger,
injustice and poverty,
abuse at home and war abroad
undermine our joy.

These chronic realities
prevent us from experiencing
the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness
our founding fathers pictured.

We deck the halls with boughs of holly,
but our hearts are draped in despair.
Unemployment is rampant.
Gun violence is unprecedented.
The political process is demoralizing.
Our personal and national debt is on the increase
while church attendance is in steady decline.

As much of our nation dreams of a White Christmas,
many of us are dreaming of a day
when the moral courage of a beloved black leader
would increasingly mark our lives.
Thank You for Nelson Mandela’s example of forgiveness,
his pursuit of justice and his championing of human rights.

Yes, today we mark the birthday of the Prince of Peace
even as the death of a peace-loving president
continues to occupy our attention.
The global grief surrounding Mandela’s passing
reminds us how a single life can alter the course of history.
Jesus did.

So did Moses,
Esther, Mohamed, Copernicus,
Luther, Lincoln, Gandhi,
Graham, King and Teresa.
And we can.

May we honor this day
with more than carol-singing,
over-eating or gift-giving.
May our presence in this world
be the gift that keeps on giving.