Prayers of the People: Almost Christmas

Holy God, we know you are with us each moment.
Nothing we say in our prayers can surprise you.
Yet we come to you in prayer anyway,
not to keep you informed,
but to wedge open a space in our hearts,
for us to feel your presence,
and know your great love.

We pray today for those who are hunkered down this week,
whether mired in to-do lists and last-minute cleaning,
or held hostage by physical or mental illness
or trapped in buildings that have fallen down around them.
Bring freedom, we pray,
freedom from overblown expectations,
and confining illness,
and violence. 

God of love,
hear our prayers.

We pray for those who are travelling this week,
the millions who will drive up and down I-75
or fly out of the Cincinnati airport,
on their way to see family.
We pray also for those who are running for their lives
from war or abuse or trauma,
who may never go home again. 
Keep them all safe, we pray,
and send them companions on the journey. 

God of love,
hear our prayers.

We pray for those for whom the holidays are complicated,
grieving the loss of beloved family members,
or that they never felt loved by their family,
or that they have no family,
and desperately want to. 
We pray for your love to surround them,
and remind them that they are worthy,
and enough, 
and beloved, 
just as they are. 

God of love,
hear our prayers.

We pray for those for whom this week will be just like any other,
because our culture’s Christmas costs money,
because we have turned a holy day into a luxury. 
We pray for those who look at our Christmas
and say they want no part of it,
for those who have lost faith,
or who were never given the chance to develop it. 
Make us good witnesses, we pray,
to the kind of Christmas that isn’t wrapped in paper,
but is born of loving kindness.

God of love,
hear our prayers.

We pray for those for whom this week is the culmination of so much waiting,
for those for whom Christmas is utter joy, mystery, and love;
those whose faith is innocent and sure. 
Give us all the faith of children,
waiting for you to come play with us,
waiting for you as for a gift,
waiting round-eyed for you to be born again. 

God of love,
hear our prayers.

We pray for those who are in our hearts,
those whom we love,
whether we know them well,
or only as fellow beloved children of you:

[prayers of the congregation may be spoken here]

We lift these names to you, God,
trusting that your love is enough
for all needs. 
We give praise that you are indeed Emmanuel,
God with us. 

And now we pray together as Jesus taught us, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be 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 power, and the glory forever. Amen.

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