Prayers of the People/Intercession on Christmas

Sermon Illustrations on Christmas

God, you come to us and meet us in the strangest ways: sometimes in the stillness at the eye of the storm or in the midnight of our lives; sometimes in the raging whirlwind or in the high noon of our responsibilities; at times in the reflections of those who have lived long lives; at other times in the moment of birth when all is potential and the future cannot be known.

Meet us now as we remember the birth of the child Jesus who brought to Mary and Joseph the anxiety and joy of new life. When we, like Joseph, stand waiting, do not let us be frozen in inaction by a sense of futility because the future looks grim and out of control. When, like Mary, we ponder our lives, may our ideas of what you do never be so rigid that we mistake the work and teaching of your fool to be mere foolishness and insanity.

Arouse us from our habitual patterns of activities and send us like shepherds scurrying across the fields to some impossible birth of a new age because we have heard strange music in the wind praising God and announcing that God’s great­est pleasure will be to give all creatures wholeness and peace.

Disturb our dreams of empires and dominions so that like the magi we may refuse to support the deceitful Herods of our day who promise status and na­tional success sanctioned by religious piety and untroubled by prophetic judg­ment. While we mourn victims of war and poverty overseas, do not let us forget the slaughter of the innocents who in our own country die physically, emotion­ally, and intellectually one by one because we have not imagined and enacted ways to bring peace to all.

And turn us into faithful dreamers who do not seek to return to our country or to some past era of our country by the same old ways, but who strike out for your country by another way.

Since you came and met those who celebrated the first Christmas, we are bold to seek your creating, redeeming, and sustaining presence here and now in one another and in what we have heard. Send us out into this dark night with new visions and dreams, with songs of thanksgiving and a new road to follow toward your realm. Amen.         

Ruth C. Duck Ed., Flames of the Spirit: Resources for Worship, Pilgrim Press, 1985.

In our prayers this morning, when I say, “Lord of all glory,” please respond by saying “Hear our prayer”. Lord of all glory…hear our prayer

Our God speaks tenderly to His people and cares for them as a shepherd cares for his sheep. Let us therefore bring to Him our thanks and our prayers for our own needs and the needs of others. Let’s pray: Lord our God–Father, Son and Holy Spirit: In this Advent season we pray for Your church globally and locally to herald the good tidings of great joy with a strong voice telling of your glory revealed in Jesus Christ. 

We pray for this congregation, for its elders and deacons, for all who serve in various ways. We pray that all may benefit from what we all offer in service of Christ; that together in faith we may be constantly renewed by Your Holy Spirit to serve our community and world in such need. Lord of all glory…hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, we pray for all nations and their leaders. We pray that in all the uneven, rough and unjust places of the world the way may be prepared for You to bring equality, healing and justice to all whom You love as ones created in Your image and for whom Your Son Jesus died to save. We pray for peace in our world and an end to violence. May there be peace in our homes and in our hearts so that we may live and work together in a spirit of peace and harmony. Remind us all that we share Your world with others, many of whom are less fortunate than us and struggle to survive. 

We pray particularly today for the people of the Holy Land where Jesus, Your word made flesh, came to live alongside us. May Your Prince of Peace bring a new spirit of reconciliation among those who have brought division, suspicion and danger into the streets of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. 

May the world come to know the peace of Christ, without which societies lose direction and ignore the deep yearning for peace. Lord of all glory…hear our prayer.

Spirit of the Living God: we pray for the towns and neighborhoods where we live, work and worship. We pray that, with Your help, we will show Your glory in how we live and serve You in serving others. If we get overly-busy, stressed or tired…speak tenderly to us, gather us in Your arms and bring us back to a place of rest to focus on the great truth of Advent and Christmas: that You’ve come to us in humility and with patience so we can see Your glory and know Your Salvation in our lives

May this Advent season prepare us to welcome Christ’s return in the joy of Your new earth and heaven, where waiting is no more, and all our hopes are fulfilled. Lord of all glory…hear our prayer.

God our Father, we pray for all in particular need, for those who suffer any form of illness, for the weak and vulnerable. We pray for all who are anxious, sorrowful,  overwhelmed or in any kind of want today. We pray that You would touch them in Your tenderness, grace and love to bring comfort and strength. 

We pray especially for loved ones and those known to us who are ill, injured or in any kind of need. We especially pray for…There are others also, who we now remember in the quietness of our hearts. (silence

We know that You love them, and know their every need, far better than we do. We ask that You do for them as You see best and bless them with Your love and peace; and that You strengthen and encourage their caregivers. Lord of all glory…hear our prayer. 

Gracious Lord, we thank You for those who’ve died in faith and who are now with You inYour eternal Kingdom where one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are as one day. We’re grateful to have shared our lives with them; and we pray for those who mourn, that they may find comfort, hope, and new life in Your presence–especially in this time of preparation for Christmas. We give you thanks for… and for the lives of others we hold in our hearts before you in the stillness (brief silence) Lord of all glory…hear our prayer. 

Lord God, heavenly Father: we bring our prayers to You, trusting in Your great faithfulness and compassion. As we look forward to celebrating again the birth of Your Son, Jesus Christ, help us also to look forward to His return and to prepare ourselves for that day when Your kingdom will at last be established on earth. Merciful God, our Father, please accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, and our Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen. 

Richard Herman

Gracious and faithful God–our Creator, Redeemer and Comforter:

When we don’t know the way–You show us the way; and when we can’t find a way–You make a way. Thank you! 

Thank you for Your gift of a Savior–not a savior who stays distant and aloof, but one who enters the warp and woof of our existence as Emmanuel–God with us; and who then sanctifies every place and time in which we live.

Therefore, we come to You confident You care about whatever concerns us. For those who are infirmed, ill or injured, for those who are recuperating from or anticipating surgery–we ask for your healing, in a word of grace, a touch of compassion, an act from skill or training. 

Make those we care for whole physically, emotionally and spiritually. For those who grieve–we ask for your comfort, in the companionship of your Holy Spirit, the encouragement of Your Word, and the warm presence of a friend. 

Take them through the way of grieving to a place of peace and hope. When families gather around trees and tables this week, may You birth in them renew joy in your love and life which is ours in the cradle, the cross and the empty tomb. For marriages stressed and stretched by conflict, for relationships broken by hurt or conflict, for families torn apart by everything from pride to envy, selfishness to greed: 

Come to rule as the prince of peace to restore, reconcile and renew. Break hard and proud hearts so that “I’m sorry” “You’re forgiven” and “I love you” are uttered afresh. For those uncertain about what lies beyond the New Year–give them the peace that comes from knowing You are in charge–and You are good and You are strong. 

For the hungry of our world–provide food and nourishment for the body and the soul; for the homeless–give them a place and a people to call “home”; to the unemployed or underemployed–give them worthwhile work by which they can serve You, and meet the needs of a family; and to nations, including our nation–give leaders wisdom and mercy, and the courage to do what is good, right and just in Your eyes for the people. 

For your church–may we be a light on the hill in a dark world, showing the way home to Your kingdom. May those we send out and support in mission be given strength to remain faithful to You and loyal to the gospel. All this … and more … we pray in the name of Jesus, our precious Lord and Savior. Amen. 

Richard Herman

Lord Jesus–You’ve come, are coming and will come again.

Whether we know it or not, we live on the edge of Your advent every moment of every day either with anticipation or with anxiety. As if stumbling along a dark path in a thick forest, with only a flashlight at our feet, we see so little … while You see everything, being Yourself the Light of the World. That’s why we put our hands in Yours, follow where You lead us and give to You all the people and experiences that lay beyond our ability to see clearly and our strength to act. In a world tainted by terrorists, we pray for hostages and families in tense hours of waiting. 

Protect captives and soften the hearts of their captors. Comfort families and encourage their loved ones. We pray also for young men and women who put their lives on the line, asking Your protection and strength. 

Where people are ravaged by AIDS–overseas and in our backyards–make us compassionate and make Yourself known as the Healer and Comforter. Where poverty breeds hopelessness, where hunger causes desperation, where addictions bind the soul and dull the mind, where unemployment saps initiative, where ignorance destroys opportunity–come Lord! 

Come with Your compassion and grace, with your strength and love, with Your truth and justice. Through Your Holy Spirit, move Your people to be Your ears that listen,Your hands that serve, Your voice that advocates,Your feet that enter in, and Your arms that love. Where families grieve–comfort them with your peace and your presence as the Resurrection and the Life. Where loved ones are fighting illness, recovering from injury, anticipating surgery–heal them in Your power and love. Where birth makes two people parents and baptism calls them to care for the children–give grace, wisdom, love and all the fruit of Your Spirit and especially patience. Wherever we are tempted to trivialize Your incarnation as a child in Bethlehem, an adolescent in Nazareth, and an adult who had no home to call His own …who came to died that we be redeemed: Remind us of Your great love and compassion. Remind us that Christmas red is the crimson blood shed for us and Christmas green is the evergreen of eternal life. This we pray in Your name, Lord Jesus. AMEN

Richard Herman

Father: Thank You for always being ready to welcome us and listen to us.

Thank You for sending Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Savior: born like us, experiencing all that we experience yet sinless, who died for us and rose to give us hope and a new life. 

And thank You for not leaving us alone, but pouring out Your Holy Spirit to encourage, empower and equip us for all that you have for us to do. Some here today are struggling at home or in a marriage, Lord – show them the way. 

Give them strength and grace sufficient for anything. 

For some here, it was all they could do just to get here. They are overwhelmed by life, Lord – too many responsibilities, too little time, and even fewer resources. Coping is even just beyond their reach. Come alongside. Lift them up. 

Send a friend today to support and encourage them. Show them that there’s a way out – and lead them in it. Someone is deep in despair, depression and discouragement, today. 

There are many we know and love who need Your healing, Your protection, and Your peace. We pray for those who are ill, hospitalized or recuperating, and for those who anticipate tests, treatment or surgery … 

By Your wounds we are healed, by Your power we are protected, by Your Word of benediction we are blessed.  Heal (in body, soul and spirit) these for whom we’ve prayed. Comfort those who mourn … 

Guide those who are lost or confused … Enable us to trust You in all things, at all times and in all circumstances. We pray for Your church – that we might be faithful to the mission entrusted to us to point the way to Christ Jesus by what we do, who we are and through what we say: 

For Your church world-wide: advance the gospel in places where there is no church as of yet. For the church of Jesus Christ in the [insert country here] and in our community – revive us again that we might declare Your Good News with integrity and power, and so change our nation. 

For this congregation: Bless its leaders with wisdom when they need wisdom, courage when they need courage, grace when they need grace and love at all times.  Meet our needs that we might glorify You as our great provider. This we pray in the name of Jesus, Your only begotten Son and our only Savior. AMEN.

Richard Herman