Now that Advent has concluded and we have moved officially to celebrating the arrival of Jesus, the beginnings of good news and joy for those looking for God’s reign to take root, it is time to reflect and pray to celebrate the good things God has done.
Throughout Advent, I reflected on the book Song of Songs and paired it with the traditional theme of each week: hope, peace, joy, and love. In that ancient poem about the intimate dance and love affair with Holy Wisdom, all four of those virtues and divine gifts can be found.
In Jesus, all four find their true home.
One of the interesting and distinguishing factors about Song of Songs is the absence of a direct reference to God. The only other biblical book to share that quality is Esther.
For this Christmas, I have chosen to reflect on the book of Esther, as story of God’s compassion being worked out through his people. Esther and Moredecai were both faithful to God’s values and promoted a commitment to life and strong character. They chose paths of integrity that resulted in the rescue of a whole people group.
They celebrated then, as we celebrate now, by feasting and giving gifts.
Let it be an inspiration to do the same in our own lives. It is an unusual pick for a Christmas prayer, but I believe it is about the essential elements that make up God’s good news and the ultimate victory of God’s reign. Jesus came to bring life, to create wholeness in and among all of us.
May we do the same.
Lord Jesus, we celebrate you, your beauty and the gift of your presence. You, the King of all creation, are worthy of praise and adoration.
We celebrate your first appearance in humility as a human child, showing us then and throughout your life the divine plan for leading through serving, giving us an image to imitate.
May we conquer our tendency to dominate and demean and our inclination to acquiesce or ignore the powers of this world who objectify and disempower, in honor of your example and anticipation of the fullness of your coming kingdom.
Lord, may we seek you with the passion and persistence of a man seeking a beautiful woman. May we put the care in to preparing ourselves for you that we put into presenting our preferred image to the people around us.
As the firstborn of creation, the seed of Abraham, our elder brother, and only natural Son of the Father, we honor your birth, year after year. We celebrate and thank you for adopting us into your luminous family, giving us a home and people.
We have been accepted into the royal family, in security and love, on the choice and authority only of you.
May we repay your love with love. May we respond to your kindness with kindness.
When your love and kindness are not reflected in the powers that be or in the lives of each of us, help us to respond with strength to stand for right and justice.
May we stand when there is risk and advocate to subordinate corrupted power with peaceful resistance.
When whole groups are targeted for injustice whether we naturally are part of them or not, may we reflect your heart and join with them in their suffering against those who would harm them.
Help us to mourn in the face of suffering and wrong. May we learn once more to fast, to weep, to lament, and to grieve.
Lord, may we remember the subversive power of vulnerability and the hope you bring for a re-created future. Help us to remember we cannot remain silent, that if we fail to take up the cause of love, we fail to love you above all.
May we remember you are faithful to rescue, you are powerful to act, and you are unified with your people and to join in what you do that we may not be left behind.
We praise you as we fail to comprehend what you have promised. You offer us goodness beyond what we can dream. Far better than the empty lures of this fallen system and the faulty desires of a misguided mind.
May we seek life in you, not only to live well or even into eternity but to live fully and vibrantly, to be a beacon of life unmasked and unmistakable.
In that brightness of life, help us to expose the vapidity of the traps of this World, the fleeting glory of overblown promises, and the inevitable doom of evil systems and their perpetuators.
For your birth was appearance of an unquenchable flame that grew to consume creation and reform all things as you claimed victory for life forever.
Wherever and whenever we remember your victory of life over death, your seed planted to cultivate life in each of us, among all of us, sprouting and overgrowing to fill every corner of creation, remind us to celebrate.
As gifts were given and are given and will be given again in remembrance of love and joy and the triumph of life and the song of your never-failing breath shared to create our ever growing family, turn our sorrow into rejoicing and our mourning into holidays.
Where we feast, when we rejoice, may we remember your form of love and give to those who would otherwise go without, inviting them to our table, to our family.
In that way, we will join you in your royalty, the power that comes in service and humility, seeking good for your people and the welfare of those you have created.
Give us wisdom to recognize and value the vulnerable and dance with the desire for life.
Thank you, Lord, that you came, that you are with us, and that you will yet come again. May we always be ready to greet you with celebration.