Last Christmas

To all of us a last Christmas comes.
The cycle of the year, so familiar and dear,
stops cycling for us, but not for those around us.
Some have no idea the end is near,
others look at the calendar,
and know they will not be turning more pages,
and so they enter this season with different eyes.

A last chance to put up Christmas decorations,
enjoying the memories that come with each ornament.
A last chance to taste those specific cookies,
eaten in childhood, made by someone who themselves
are now just a memory.
A last chance to hear the round of familiar songs,
each one a gem, so precious and clear.
A last chance to gather with loved ones
and speak ordinary words with special meaning,
knowing this is the last time.
A last chance to hear the Christmas story,
wondering about the meaning of a Saviour
in human form, whose name was “God with us.”

God with us, be near us now.
Help us to be present and alive,
even if pain is our constant companion.
Teach us how to savour
without bitterness and regret.
Surround us with love and loved ones,
with moments of laughter and peace.
Grow in us a brilliant sense of the beauty of life,
that sparkles so bright, so bright, in this dark time.
Show us how to let go
when we have spent our whole life hanging on.
We don’t know how to do this.
Like the shepherds falling down,
we have moments where we know fear in our very marrow.

Send us angels who lift us up,
who give us words that make our hearts sing.
These words of promise push us forward,
stumbling toward Bethlehem,
heading toward the light of a stable
and a baby whose face
we have lived our whole life to see.
Emmanuel, God with us, at the last.

New Book Coming Soon!

Carol Penner has written a devotional book for Lent that explores the challenges of repentance and forgiveness. Forty reflections and prayers to deepen your walk with God as you prepare for Easter.  

You can order it here!

About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at

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