God of Love, we want to praise you for being who you are: a good Father, a strong presence, and someone who wants to walk and talk with us daily. God, we thank you for loving us so much that you sent your son to this earth. That when we were weak, when we were full of darkness, when we had nothing to offer you in return, that you sent Jesus to come as a vulnerable baby, so that we might be able to have a personal relationship with you.
Jesus, thank you for coming for us to show us what Love looks like. You are the image of the invisible God and the firstborn over all creation. By you, all things were created. You are before all things, and in you all things hold together. You are the head of the body, the church. And God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in you, and through you to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through your blood, shed on the cross.
Holy Spirit, you are welcome here. We thank you for your continual presence within us. We thank you for the way that you guide us into all truth. We thank you that it is through your power that we can reach others who don’t yet know the love of the Father. I pray that you would remove any fear about who you are, or what you do. I pray that we would be enabled to really hear you clearly when you speak. Help us to listen.
God, this is such an amazing and at the same time, intense time of year. At a time when we celebrate the light coming into the world, we are more aware of the darkness. We lift into your arms today those who are struggling in our midst. Lord, you know exactly what it is that troubles their hearts. Some are struggling with the loss of a loved one in the past year who will not be with them for the first time at Christmas. Some grieve the rifts in their families or in their marriages. Others are stressed about health issues, or lack of employment. Hard things seem harder at this time of year when it seems that everything should be wonderful and lovely and shiny and joyful. Some of us are not joyful, Lord, and you know who we are. You are with us in our feelings of hurt, of loneliness, of sadness and of grief. Jesus you are right there with us, right beside us. You know what it is like to suffer, to hurt, to be afraid. Help us to turn to you in our difficulties and allow you to embrace us. Help us to know that we are not alone in our dark places. We lift up those who are suffering in mind, body or spirit. We ask for your grace and presence to surround S and M and the rest of their family, as they grieve the sudden and unexpected loss of their daughter, K.
Lord, there are other people who have lost their children this week too. We lift up the families of Pakistan who lost their children this past week in the vicious attack on a school. We also think of those who grieve in Sydney, Australia for their loved ones killed this week. Lord, you grieve deeply in their sadness. Your Word says that you are close to the broken hearted.
Lord, as we celebrate the light, we are made aware of dark situations around the world. Father, we know that are you present with refugees everywhere, those who have been displaced by war. Jesus, you were a refugee for the first years of your life; you know what it is like to be in exile. We pray that the light of your love might shine even in the midst of the cold, the dirt and the uncertainty of refugee camps. May your light trump the darkness there.
We thank you for Ed Dickson and his McJoyful program with orphans in Ukraine. We thank you for the ways that he shows them how they are loved by you. We lift up orphans around the world, Lord. Those children who would only have one wish for Christmas: a family to belong to. We pray that they would come to know that You can be their Father.
We thank you for renewed diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US and how this will hopefully empower the amazing and resourceful people of Cuba and give them hope for a future. Lord, we thank you that Canada played an important role in that.
We also pray for the staff at the Canadian office of Gospel for Asia in Stoney Creek. We ask for your wisdom and your covering on that organization as they finalize 2014 administrative issues and prepare for the new year.
We praise you for ‘Ministry at the Manor’ here in our city and we ask a special blessing on those who attended the Christmas Feast. Lord, may those who came be awed by your extravagant love. Please bless Sharon and Jack with energy, with your strength and with clear ears to hear your Holy Spirit. Thank you for the doors that you have opened there. We ask for more open doors!
Jesus, we pray that we can find some moments to still ourselves and come and sit quietly, remembering the the incredibly humble beginnings of your life on earth. King of kings, Lord of lords, you who came to a stable on a cold night, to show us what Love looks like…
We love you, Jesus. Happy Birthday!