God our Creator, Ancient of Days,
even as we give thanks for Jesus’ birth,
you behold it happening.
You are beyond time.
You are always sending an angel to Mary,
to Joseph, to the shepherds,
you are always coming again to us,
with good news of great joy
which shall be to all people.
Hear our prayer of thanks
for all you have done, are doing, will do
to save us from our sins.
Thank you for hope that shines out
in the eyes of every newborn child,
God did you know when you gave us creativity
that we would use it to create a tool to kill each other
with the tiniest movement of our finger?
Around our world, bullets are sown into gun chambers
and we reap destruction, life after life mowed down in blood.
Hear our prayer for all who will hold a gun today:
the soldier on the battlefield,
the lone gunman planning a massacre,
the gang member hunting a rival,
the raging husband threatening a family,
the depressed person wanting to end it all,
God of grace, today we pray for peace for the city of Bethlehem.
It has had more than its share of conflict,
as it changed from a little town
to a bustling city visited by millions each year.
You know the walls that separate people in Bethlehem;
walls of concrete, walls of prejudice, walls of hatred,
walls between Israeli and Palestinian,
walls between Jew and Christian and Muslim,
walls between cultures and languages.
We can hardly think of another place on earth
with such high walls and such deep hostility.
Yet this is where you were born:
Lord Jesus, you are the one who came to set captives free.
Today we pray for all among us who are slaves to addictions,
fettered in body and mind to behaviours that destroy.
We call out for one more;
one more bet, one more illicit meeting,
one more cigarette, one more snack,
one more year of working this hard,
one more hit, one more downloaded picture,
one more meal to be purged,
one more little drink that won’t hurt anyone.
Open our eyes to the chains that bind us
and the destruction it is causing in our lives
and the lives of those we love….
What child is this?
This hungry child, this child with AIDS,
this child afraid of bombs and soldiers,
this child too poor to go to school,
this child from a refugee camp,
this child abused and neglected,
this child crying and uncomforted.
What child is this?
This child is not a statistic,
this child is not collateral damage,
Jesus, you know the 35,000 people in jail in Canada
by name, not number.
You know each holding cell, each regional detention centre,
each provincial institution and federal prison.
You were a captive, you too wore chains.
No one falls through the cracks in your kingdom,
you witness every tear shed in the night.
Where there is loneliness, bring companionship.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is fear, courage.
Where there is confinement, your freedom.
We pray for every imprisoned person who misses their family,
We say a prayer of thanks today for those among us
in our community, in our country,
who are living in poverty.
Thank you for the courage of people with no money,
for their resourcefulness and ingenuity,
for the way they show that loving relationships do not depend on income,
for their joy and laughter in difficult circumstances
and for the willingness of those who live with little
to share with anyone who asks,
for they understand the spirit of Christmas.
We ask for help for those among us suffering because of poverty;
As we wait for the anniversary of your birth, Lord Jesus,
we are waiting for peace in Afghanistan.
We have created a war that goes on and on;
military operations come and go,
bombs get dropped or planted,
hospitals fill up and empty,
graveyards in Afghanistan and around the world
are visited by those who mourn.
And we have not found peace.
Saviour, where is your relief?
We need your strength and consolation.
We need release from fear and sin.
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 www.leadinginworship.com” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org