Christmas Eve Prayers

Lord of the Christmas, whose largess enfolds us and whose mercies redeem us, we have dealt casually with thy coming among us and have turned each one to his own way. In the presence of spaciousness we have put on the small mind and shown the closed fist. Now in thee may our evil ways be scattered and our sins dispersed. Put far from us the lusts that harass us and the several greeds that control us. And gather us joyfully to thy high table where, in the food and drink of heaven, we shall know thy salvation for all peoples through the things of earth; through Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High.

Lord, who in our wintertime sends Jesus to harry our countryside by grace and to refresh our tired cities as a fair wind: how can we but offer praises and glad hearts - for he shall dazzle us from the heights, yet settle close by us where we agonize and dream. So may we, in families and in neighborhoods across the world, find his mercy in our hearts and his jubilance, high and angel-tongued, a music in our flesh. Now in this bread and wine, broken and shared, let the major feast begin; and to thy name be honor and glory, dominion and power, forever and ever.

Thou who gives us bread and drink and thereby heaven in our flesh and fire to burn away our dross: prepare us mightily to know together and with all the nations thy comfort, timeless and unbegun, brimming and now. Urge in us every desire to enact thy word of love among those who are cast down, and send us forth to liberate the captives. Persuade us to the majesties of hope within us waiting to be born, and against the murk of indifference that surrounds us; let us with Christ be bearers of the light.

Praise to thee, thou far, thou near, for the mystery of thyself which begins, orders, and holds the utmost margins of space and time and all that lies therein, and for the gift of thyself that is resident among us, the Spirit that breathes into our being ancient strength and new possibilities! Praise, thou Incarnate, thou Son of man, for love made flesh and mercy walking and death undone! Praise, praise, praise, as the holy bread reaches us into timelessness and the eternal wine fires us to heal the sick and set the prisoners free!

Blessed Lord, who hath chosen earth as thy cradle and broken heaven in upon our drear captivity to sin and death: discover in us whatever grieves for the world’s anguish, and deepen our sorrow for what we have done evilly to one another and for what we have neglected in the need of neighbor and stranger. Move us to a mighty repentance. Remove from within us the comfortable lies and the arrogance by which we have prevented the world’s peace and damaged goodwill among the nations. Then set our hears toward Bethlehem.

Ah, Jesukin, who in a rude barn gathers all creation: what shall we bring thee but sweet praise - for thou art the Word of heaven spoken across centuries; thou art the true Light who scans our darkness and scatters our despair; thou art the Savior who declares for the poor and brings hope to them that are cast down. At Christmas time, in the astonished nights and the holy mornings, all that is shall praise thee. Yea, with archangels and great kings, with sparrows and shepherd folk, all tongues shall sing thee. Let the brimming world repeat the sounding joy. Glory to God in the highest!

Creating, loving, holy God, your Spirit, will, and ways clearly and unforgettably were revealed in the life and teachings of the one whose birth we celebrate within the hour. We pause, therefore, bathed in the light of the Christmas star, to examine whether or not our lives silhouette your image in which we have been created. This evening we would unwrap the baby Jesus from his swaddling clothes and let him grow into the one who became the Christ and our Redeemer. Thus on this Christmas Eve we ask some Christmas questions. Jesus saw the good and the potential in others. Do we? Jesus knew that it is when we give that we receive. Do we? Jesus helped people just because they were human beings, not because of who or what they were. Do we? Jesus knew who he was and thus sought to show his love and devotion to you by loving you with heart, soul, mind, and strength, and his neighbors as himself. Do we? May we truly celebrate Christmas tomorrow and then keep alive the spirit of Christmas by daily emulating the one whose name we bear and in whose spirit we pray - the Babe of Bethlehem who became the Savior of us all.

Heavenly Father, open our hearts to hear the song of the angels and to share the spirit of a peaceable Christmas. O Lord, make your salvation known to people the world over. As darkness descends from East to West, raise up you faithful in carols of praise and good cheer. Cause us to rejoice with them that we have not been abandoned to the night, but are now called to the light - your grace and truth, once wrapped in swaddling clothes and held closely to the chest by those who treasured the gift to mankind that was entrusted to their care and keeping. O Lord, we pray for the precious little ones of the earth. Help us to create for them a world of possibility and hope. Keep us from giving up and giving in - for they feel the touch of our decision. Bless us all in our many moods this night, O Lord, and grant us you peace.

How easy it is to pray tonight, O God. This season, and Christmas Eve especially, makes us feel unusually close to you and to one another. Perhaps it is because Christmas heightens in us those feelings that are so in harmony with your spirit: love, compassion, joy, gratitude, expectancy, hope. Whatever the case, we are experiencing the warmth of your and others’ love; we feel motivated by your compassion to love and give of ourselves; in spite of whatever might cause us despair, there is within us an unquenchable joy; we are overwhelmed with gratitude for all that we have; we find ourselves facing confidently the future; we are engulfed by a hope that assures us that your strength will enable us to face all of our todays and tomorrows. Keep these many manifestations of your spirit, the Christmas Spirit, burning brightly within us each day we live. And keep us ever sensitive to how and with whom we can share the light that comes from the recognition of your presence and the desire to do your will - the light that was kindled most brightly in the one who was born the Babe of Bethlehem and who became your child, our Sovereign, our Savior, and the Light of the world - even Jesus, the Christ, in whose spirit we pray.

Father, as you sent your Son to be the Light of the world, so help us this evening to reflect upon the Light we bear in us. May these candles remind each of us to be light-bearers. May your light in us lead others to Jesus Christ. It was a silent night broken by the praises of the angelic host, proclaiming the birth of our Savior and Lord. A great light shone around the shepherds, as the angels announced the Savior's birth. May we be a great light to our community. Thank you, Father, for the gift of your Son to us. In his name we pray.