Advent Prayer, Christmas Eve

This deviates from the historic liturgies from which I have drawn my advent prayers this season, but it is one that is dear to my heart because of my vocation and its historical value:

Give us, O God, the vision which can see Your love in the world
in spite of human failure.
Give us the faith to trust Your goodness
in spite of our ignorance and weakness.
Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray
with understanding hearts.
And show us what each one of us can do to set forward
the coming of the day of universal peace.
– Frank Borman, Apollo 8, 1968

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An Advent Prayer, Week 4

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen. (from The Book of Common Prayer, 1928 ed.)

Poetry-Some Children See Him


This morning on the way to work I was listening to James Taylor at Christmas and was taken aback by the words to a song I have heard countless times but never really listened to. While song lyrics aren’t often read as poetry (at least by the masses), these lyrics are indeed poetry in the truest sense:

Some children see Him lily white,
The baby Jesus born this night.
Some children see Him lily white,
With tresses soft and fair.

Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
The Lord of heav’n to earth come down.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
With dark and heavy hair.

Some children see Him almond-eyed,
This Savior whom we kneel beside.
Some children see Him almond-eyed,
With skin of golden hue.

Some children see Him dark as they,
Sweet Mary’s Son to whom we pray.
Some children see him dark as they,
And, oh . . . they love Him, too

The children in each different place
Will see the baby Jesus’ face
Like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,
And filled with holy light.

O lay aside each earthly thing
And with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the infant King.
‘Tis love that’s born tonight!

As I read these words two thoughts come to mind. Negatively, we tend to make God in our own ‘image and likeness’ instead of remembering that we are made in his. Positively, though Christ took on humanity as an ethnic Jew some 2000 years ago, he is the God of all nations, tribes, tongues…and colors.

An Advent Prayer, Week 3

Eternal God,
you sent John the Baptist
to prepare the way for the coming of your Son.
Grant us the wisdom to hear your will,
that we too may prepare the way for Christ
who is coming in power and glory
to establish his kingdom of peace and justice;
through Jesus Christ our Judge and our Redeemer,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever.  Amen.  (from Book of Common Worship, WJK, 1993)

Poetry-Nativity

In the midst of Advent with Christmas quickly approaching, my thoughts (even in poetry) are turning to the Nativity. Perhaps one of the best poetic descriptions of the blessed event, in the English language anyway, came from the pen of John Donne. He was not only a great English poet but also an Anglican priest who wrote his Holy Sonnets in the early 1600s. Here is his sonnet on the nativity:

Nativitie

Immensitie cloysterd in thy deare wombe,
Now leaves his welbelov’d imprisonment,
There he hath made himselfe to his intent
Weake enough, now into our world to come;
But Oh, for thee, for him, hath th’Inne no roome?
Yet lay him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Starres, and wisemen will travell to prevent
Th’effect of Herods jealous generall doome;
Seest thou, my Soule, with thy faiths eyes, how he
Which fils all place, yet none holds him, doth lye?
Was not his pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pittied by thee?
Kisse him, and with him into Egypt goe,
With his kinde mother, who partakes thy woe.

We could surely unpack the rich theological truths proclaimed here…but that is best left for another day.

An Advent Prayer, Week 2

Blessed Lord, which hast caused all holy Scriptures to bee written for our learnyng; graunte us that we maye in suche wise heare them, read, marke, learne, and inwardly digeste them; that by pacience, and coumfort of thy holy woorde, we may embrace, and ever holde fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast geven us in our saviour Jesus Christe. (from The Book of Common Prayer, 1549 ed.)

Blessed Lord, who has caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; grant us that we may in such a manner hear them, read, heed, learn, and inwardly digest them; that by patience, and comfort of your Holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ. (my own moderization)

An Advent Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, King of Glory, King of kings and Lord of lords, the Son of the living God and Son of David, come. Come now to Your Church that You have purchased with Your blood. Come with Your gracious presence, that we may rejoice in You. Come and rule over us, that we may serve and follow You. Come with Your love, humility, and perfect obedience, and let Your lowliness become our glory. Come into the midst of Your people and bless us, for we are Your heritage. Forgive us our sin, and do not angrily cast away Your servants, for You are meek and gracious. Clothe us with the garment of Your righteousness, for You are the only righteous one and our helper. Satisfy us with the abundance of Your mercy, for You did become poor for our sakes, that by Your poverty we might be made rich. Hear us, Lord Jesus, for the sake of Your holy name. Amen. (from Lutheran Book of Prayer, rev ed, Concordia, 2005)