It’s the eve of another celebration of Jesus’ birth–
but this year is different than any other.
It’s hard to cast our thoughts to Bethlehem
when the here and now is so heavy.
On this Christmas Eve, we feel like we are on the eve of everything.
Are we on the eve of sickness or health;
will this pandemic touch the lives of those we love?
Will our hospitals manage this second wave of patients
in the long winter ahead?
We are on the eve of loneliness;
there are too few chairs around our holiday tables
and we can’t hug people we see on screens.
Many are on the eve of financial ruin;
not enough work, too many bills.
We need a Saviour, this year more than ever.
Thank you for the gift of a baby, whose small cries
echo through the centuries, a sign of hope,
your love made visible in flesh and blood.
Thank you for other signs of hope.
Thank you for life that perseveres in this long winter season:
the great migrations of the birds to warmer climates,
and the burrowing animals who seek the warmth of the earth.
Thank you for the beautiful austerity of the winter landscape,
for muted colours and then the brilliance of blanketing snow.
Thank you for the buds of spring, tight and snug on every tree branch.
Thank you for science, and the discovery of the COVID-19 vaccine;
keep us safe as we wait for our turn to take it.
Thank you for creating the resilience of the human race,
and our ingenuity in problem-solving.
Help us apply ourselves to the difficulties around us;
reaching out to those we know who are grieving,
offering financial help to someone who is struggling,
giving words of encouragement and kindness every day.
Forgive us for our exasperation with other people’s choices,
and our anger towards those with whom we disagree.
They are exasperated and angry with us, too.
Jesus, help us remember the paths to peace you showed us.
This Christmas, are we on the eve of your advent here?
Will we see you in a new way, born again in this old world–
Emmanuel, God with us, in 2021?
Come, Lord Jesus.