God, you see us here in the northern hemisphere.
The days get shorter and the arc of the sun
creeps towards the horizon.
Winter has come
with its great swaths of darkness.
Hope hunkers down with us
as the cold north winds make us shiver.
The last geese fly across the sky heading south,
and the trees are suddenly bare.
In this emptiness you give us advent.
We reach into dark corners and pull out dusty boxes.
Hope glimmers as we string up colourful lights,
and set up nativity scenes that bring to mind
the gift of a baby in Bethlehem.
Hope is hard to find in that war torn place of your birth,
and in so many places this year.
Bombs and bullets crater communities,
and violence begets violence.
So many bodies, so much blood.
Will it ever stop?
Hope is buried in rubble this year
and we dig it out with our bare hands.
Into this unsteady world, a baby is born
Hope slides into our lives
with incredibly tiny hands and feet
and a promise that you are with us.
You melt our frozen hearts
so we can answer your call to generosity.
There is so much suffering
and we have so much to share.
Your hope hovers over the world
an ever present help in times of trouble.
This week help us reach out
to one person who is hopeless,
who is grieving or sick or new to this country,
offering companionship and comfort.
In our busy lives we can find time.
Thank you that sometimes hope falls on us like snow
transforming the world overnight.
As we do your work, we see the essential outlines,
the breathtaking beauty of the world around us.
Let your hope fall on every war torn country,
so that ceasefires can hold,
and healing can begin.
This is our first advent prayer,
a prayer of thanks for the gift of hope:
a gift we need and treasure in times like these.