A prayer given at Hope College’s Christmas Vespers service, December 2012 in Holland, MI.
Eternal Lord of Hosts,
who, by rights, rules both day and night
and sets the bounds of time
so that time itself might be bound to you.
As we reach the edges of our time,
we dedicate ourselves anew:
that what we have heard here tonight might
be to us a fresh beginning with you.
For this is the season of gifts given and gifts received.
And where there is a gift, there is also the gift giver.
Tonight we bless you with the good news that a new beginning is possible
with the revelation that the gift is also giver:
Jesus, who is heaven’s eternal flame,
whose humanity illuminates all flesh
as the embodied light from true Light
that overcomes the darkness.
As God’s revealed Light,
you cannot help, O Christ, but overcome.
For what Light is, is what it does;
its essence is at the same time its substance;
its presence is also its activity.
Jesus’ presence among us is God’s activity for us;
The divine energy and power
that confronts, reveals, exposes,
and overwhelms the shadows of night.
For your light reveals to all the world
the Word that echoes from the dawn of time,
the heavenly whisper from that other world,
and confronts us with the consequence
that you, the Son, was born for a cross;
only that you might rise,
so the glory of God may never set.
The glory that reveals to all your righteousness;
A righteousness that exposes your holiness;
The holiness that overwhelms us with your grace;
That grace that is also the key
That unlocks us from the citadel of ourselves,
that we may be set free at long last
to explore your expansive Kingdom that has no end.
A Kingdom whose King invites us all in faith to live a new way of life in life–
marked with the joy of a hopeful imagination
and a dogged cheerfulness
as we seek to follow the narrow path
of your wisdom and revelation.
To that end, may the gift of you, the exalted Son,
Jesus Christ, burn away the fog of a cultured religion
that reduces your victory to a virtue;
that encourages compassion,
but ignores the costly consequence of your cross;
that preaches justice,
but forgets Jesus and his justification.
Lord of Light, shine on our sense,
and scatter the phantoms of our mind;
that from the illumination of your Light,
our eyes may have clear vision
of the expansive reach of your covenant love;
that the gravity of your grace
may ground us to be a people of Hope
in this time and place,
a people who, in your name,
are ready to bend our will to your will;
who are ready not only to serve,
but to sacrifice;
who are ready not only to wonder at the mystery,
but to worship at the feet of your majesty.
So as our evening reaches our boundary,
let us rise with gladness, with
our voices hymning first
of a child that grew,
and offer you our vows of dedication
with the prayer you 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 lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil,
For thine is the Kingdom,
And the glory
And the life everlasting.
(Header image courtesy of Hope College.)