Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Prayer for the 4th Sunday of Advent, 2009

With my thanks to a long-time friend and recent Facebook commentator, Francine Phillips, for the correlation of holiness and absurdity.

We begin our prayer time this morning with a small 4-line petition from Martin Luther:

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,

Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,

Within my heart, that it may be

A quiet chamber kept for thee.


A quiet chamber kept for thee…
As we’re facing into this last week before Christmas, in this time and place,
Lord God, it’s mighty hard for us to find a quiet corner,
much less a quiet chamber.
But oh, how very much we need such a space!
So we join with Martin Luther
and with so many other fellow travelers on this way we walk,
this way called the Jesus way,
and we say, “Come, Lord Jesus – please come,
and please do make your bed, your resting place, within our hearts,
so that they might indeed become quiet chambers,
holy meeting places, kept for thee.”

All four of our Advent candles are lit, Lord.
We’ve lit one for hope, one for peace, one for joy,
and today, one for love –
just 4 of the many beautiful gifts,
a portion of the wondrous good news the world was offered
at that first Christmas celebration.
Hope, peace, joy, love.
Thank you that you are our hope,
you are our peace,
our joy,
that you are Love, with a capital “L.”
This is why we sing at Christmas – and all year long.
This is why we give each other gifts,
this is why we light candles.
Yes, it’s gotten a little over-the-top, a little crazy and a lot distracting.
But oh Lord, isn’t this whole idea just a little bit over-the-top?
The Lord of the Universe,
creator and namer of the stars in the heavens,
sinking earthward from the heights to become a tiny human infant,
totally defenseless and totally dependent.
Why? So that we might re-discover hope and peace and joy and love.
Thank you so much for the crazy extravagance of Christmas
and for the absurd holiness of this whole wacky scheme.

So, as we gather together our tithes and our gifts of money today,
we ask you to take these simple, everyday things
and do with them what you’ve done with us –
transform them into agents of the Kingdom of God
set loose in a broken and bruised world.
Because we give these gifts today so that
the good work of grace can grow and prosper,
that the good news of Christmas can work its way
into the creases and crevices of our needy world.
We set them aside this morning for holy purposes,
and we set ourselves aside as well, Lord.
Maybe we don’t do that often enough.
Offer ourselves up to you
for holy, crazy, extravagant purposes.
Help us to do that today and each day this week,
as we gather with family,
as we mourn those who are no longer in the circle,
as we celebrate those who are.
Surprise us again with the holy absurdity of the incarnation
and bless us, Lord,
that we might be your blessing to the world.
For Jesus’ sake. Amen.