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A prayer given at Hope College’s Christmas Vespers service, December 2010 in Holland, MI.

Triune God of hope,
giver of all good gifts,
the hour of peace has come
where you have invited each 
of us to receive in faith 
the gift wrapped
under Mary’s arms.

This is the hour 
when your gift-given
is revealed to the world; 
a gift whose brilliance 
exposes the hiding places
we can’t reason our way out of
in the dark; so you gave to us 
the gift of light 
from true light,
whose life illuminates
for us a narrow
path that draws us out 
of darkness,
so that we might find our way
to explore the expansive 
geography of the Son’s radiance.   

It is the gift of your eternal Son, 
born on the back step of history,
that illuminates the hope of history;
for the gift-given is both 
the source of history and its end.

This is the hour when your Son
speaks into our history an invitation: 
“Come unto me all you who are weary 
and heavy in Spirit and I will give you rest.”

Yet, God, we confess your invitation 
spoken as a gift of good news for the world
is heard at the same time
as our most fundamental challenge.

For your Word made flesh, 
breathing among us,
unveils the truth 
distressing our assumptions,
disrupting our logic,
disturbing our sleep.

For when the Word made flesh
is the gift unwrapped
for the world,
it reveals the majesty 
that overwhelms the structures as
well as the soul. 

May the revelation of your Word in the flesh
confront our counterfeit liturgies
which condition our ethics to begin with ourselves,
in order that our desires might be re-formed
to the image of your Son,
the first born of your new creation. 

For on your Word,
the world was created;
And through the Word,
born and crucified,
in the flesh, 
your world is saved.

We pray that in this hour,
your Word might prove saving again,
as you send your Holy Spirit to 
invade the citadel of the self,
and with the keys of faith,
unlock us from our dark prison,
so that we might be free at last 
to experience the communion feast
with you and your holy family. 

So, Come, Lord Jesus, 
speak to us again, as if for the first time, 
the Word that overwhelms the world,
so that in faith, the college of our hope
would be built on the foundation
secured in the holiness of Immanuel: 
God with us, God for us.

To that end…

Give to each as each has need,
The faith to receive
your gift that speaks to our deepest aches 
so that the Word’s healing witness 
might nurture us into full health – 
as a people – a holy priesthood – flourishing in Christ Jesus, 
Our Lord;
who, as a child, grew 
into the man who took away
the sin of the world.

And who with one mind
taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed by thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done.
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts
As we forgive our debtors
And deliver us from evil,
For thine is the Kingdom,
And the glory
And the life everlasting.  


(Header image courtesy of Hope College.)

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