Holy God, Shepherd of the Stars,
From the very beginning, you have called to us. When the earth was formless and void, your voice entered in, calling forth light and life. And you have continued, throughout history to remain steadfast and faithful: calling up judges, kings, prophets and priests to call your people back when we found ourselves lost—far from home and uncertain of who we are and whose we are.
And still, even today, you call to each of us. You call us to come to the manger, to come and see, to come and wonder, to come and imagine.
God of Mary and Joseph, there are years when we come exhausted and uncertain. Years when the path to Christmas is littered with grief, sickness, death.
There are years when the uncertainty of what the new year will bring looms large, overshadowing any possible celebration of new birth. There are years when we can imagine how Mary and Joseph must have felt, years when what is being asked of us feels altogether too much, when we are certain that this is not the life that God had intended for us.
And then there are other years, holy God, when we come to the manger much as the shepherds must have—years when we look up and are startled to find angels proclaiming the birth of Christ, when the days seem to fly by so quickly we can’t keep track and we are stunned to hear that Christmas has come again, that another year has passed, and we are still in our field, still shepherding the same sheep, still safeguarding those in our care.
And finally, holy God, there are years when we come to the manger like small children, our faces bright with wonder, our spirits light and rejoicing. Years when it feels like God is in his heaven and all’s right with the world. When Christmas feels like a natural celebration of the joyous gift of our life.
Thankfully you, present God, meet us no matter the year, no matter our mood, no matter where we find ourselves. You meet us where we are and call us closer. Open our hearts, we pray, to the hope of the Christ child. Help us to see once more the star in the sky, beckoning us ever onward. Help us to hear yet again the song of angels. Light the dark places in our lives and surprise us with wonder.
And let us never forget your vulnerability on this most holy of nights. Not a soldier or a king, but a baby. In a world where too many people live on the edge, of poverty, of war, of violence, of depression, keep our eyes open, Gentle God, help us to see you in the faces of those we meet and those we read about in the papers. Break open our hearts that we might walk away from your birth changed—that we might become a source of your light and love in this world. All of this we pray in the name of Jesus, born again and born anew on this holy night. Amen.