Monday, December 25, 2006

My Christmas Prayer

Its Boxing Day 2006. The day after Christmas.

Last night we were part of a large festive party with friends and family old and new from church. The food was wonderful, the conversation warm, the laughter abundant, the warmth of Christmas filled the house with joy. After an early dinner, we walked the neighborhood randomly caroling the neighbors, to their delight, in spite of our less than perfect attempts at Christmas carols.

A grey sky looms this afternoon outside; with showers predicted for tonight. There is a momentary calm, as the raucous teenage girls that will live with us for a few short years longer, have friends over, and are quietly conferring in their rooms.

I sit, laptop in hand in the family room, reflecting on this Christmas 2006, listening to Mozart's Laudate Dominum (see below), perhaps one of the most hauntingly beautiful Adagios ever composed. And ironically, it was
written at a point in Mozart's life that was not perfect.

Psalm 117 (Vulgate)
Laudate Dominum omnes gentes: laudate eum omnes populi.
Quoniam confirmata est super
nos misericordia ejus: et veritas Domini manet in aeternum.
Gloria Patri.

O praise the Lord, all ye
nations: praise Him, all ye people.

For His mercy is confirmed upon us: and the truth of the Lord remaineth for ever.
Glory be to the Father

So much in our world is not indeed far less than perfect this Christmas. Is it not always so? And so, this is my Christmas prayer:

Lord, on this day after Christmas, I am filled with ambiguity.
Mixed emotions. Joy and sorrow, happiness and grief, hope and hurt.
You, who came to live among us long ago on this day we celebrate,
did not come with a thunder clap, an explosion, or cheers of tens of thousands.

You came with a cry, nearly alone, the scream of a helpless, messy, completely fragile baby.
You were not ushered in front of adoring royal hoards
You came among us in a smelly barn full of animals.
Your companions on your arrival were two completely ordinary people,
who themselves must have been scared, and confused, and amazed by your arrival,
with eyes full of tears of wonder, and hearts still unsure what was going on. Like us.

Your first attendants were ordinary shepards,
who likely also smelled like the animals they tended.
And I, this Christmas, often feel like a somewhat smelly shepard.
Not completely sure of all that you are, but wanting to stand close to you,
trying to understand you, to know you.

And our world, your world, is so much less than holy or perfect,
so much like the scene at your birth. Dirty, soiled, yet somehow sacred.
As I look back on the last year, I think often of the dichotomies in my own life,
and those in our world.

I think about our happy Christmas celebration,
and the sadness that fills so much of this earth.
I think about the happy parts of my own life,
and then the sadness that also fill the corners of my heart,
as I often know how far I am from your love.

And I wonder, how can my life
make a difference; to love, to heal, to care. I wonder.
And I think of the places in my own mind and heart
that feel so far from your love and your peace.
I remember the places in this world now that seem so
far from hope and peace and healing.

I bring both the broken pieces of my life, and the broken parts of the world to you,
as did those countless crowds who followed you in your short life.
Seeking healing, hope, forgiveness and peace.
For Darfur, for Palestine, for Iraq, I pray your peace.
For Chechnya, for Myanmar, for Somali and Ethiopia, I pray your hope.
For children who will not eat this night, I pray your provision.
For all places that feel dark and hopeless, may your grace brake through.
And for the dark and uncaring parts of my own heart, I pray for your light.
Bright and blinding light.

May I be haunted by the life and love of the child who became a King.
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