By Deborah Ann Belka
Let Christmas’ true meaning,
rise up in you today…
may you see the real splendor
of Jesus’ birth on this day.
May His beauty and grandeur,
cause your heart to sing
may the gift of His excellence
become your eternal spring.
May His majesty you behold,
with all dignity and honour
may the fullness of His truth
glorify His heavenly Father.
May the wonder of His grace,
reveal its magnificence in you
may the gratefulness you feel
be in all you say and do.
Let Christmas’ true meaning,
bring your Saviour near today
may you see the need for Him
today, and every day.
Loving Father, as we approach a Christmas season that looks very different from normal, we thank you, that while we may not be able to be with our families and loved ones in person, we know that You are always with them. Where there is weariness, would you bring Your rest; where there is hopelessness, would you bring fresh encouragement; where there is despair, would you bring hope and joy.
As we re-juggle our “to do” list of Christmas preparations, and our thoughts around the changes that Christmas will be somewhat different this year — good changes, challenging changes, hard changes — the interesting mosaic of life. It’s different for all of us, yet we all share in that changing landscape of life. Sometimes finding joy in the changes is easy. Other times it's very challenging. We invite you into our changes! Let joy fill our soul and seep into the changes of our lives.
Heavenly Father as we ponder the changes in our life, and in our world, help us to think about Christmas and the birth of Baby Jesus. Sometimes that manger scene seems so irrelevant and so far removed from day-to-day life. Yet the Bible reminds us how Baby Jesus impacts our life today and that truly gives new cause for joy — to stop and listen again.
This third week of Advent, let us remember that the good news of Jesus’ birth has the power to bring us great joy this Christmas season. Our joy isn’t dependent on what is going on in our life, in our world, or the people that we are with. It doesn’t depend on the gifts we give or the gifts we find under the tree. No earthly thing can ever give us complete joy. Our joy comes from you. That joy that flooded the hearts of the shepherds, the angels, the wise men, the hosts of heaven, and Mary and Joseph is the joy that still has the power to overwhelm our hearts with rejoicing.
Father, you offer that same joy to us now if we know you and recognize Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. You gave us a reason to celebrate when you gave us the unspeakable gift of Jesus Christ. You came to dwell among us. You went to Calvary’s cross for us. You overcame death and rose from the dead for us. You forgive our sin and give us eternal life when we believe in you.
Our joy doesn’t come from our jobs, our family, our relationships, our finances, or our success. Our joy doesn’t come from what we have on earth or who we are with. Our joy is a gift. It is the gift that you gave us that first Christmas in Jesus Christ. Our joy is encompassed in our Saviour, King Jesus. Flood our heart with joy this Advent season as we reflect on the good news of Jesus’ birth.
Heavenly Father, fill our hearts with the fresh wonder of what that first Christmas means for us today. Thank you that today or in the future, any need we have can be encompassed by You, Jesus.
Father God, we pray for those amongst our families, friends and neighbours who will only see in Advent a hectic and worrying run-up to the excesses of a secular Christmas. Help us as we try to set an example of a true spirit of preparation for that incredibly precious gift of the Christ-child. May they see in our Services, whether in church or online, the true meaning of Christmas and experience your love for them through the giving of your Son, Jesus Christ.
Merciful God, we pray for those for whom this day will be long and painful, for those in hospital or ill at home, those struggling with despair or depression and for all who care for them. Comfort and heal all who suffer, especially at this time of the Covid 19 pandemic, give them courage and hope in their troubles, and bring them the joy of your salvation.
Loving Father, keep your Church faithful in telling the good news, loving, justice and drawing many to freedom through the joy of your forgiveness.
O God, your will is justice for the poor and peace for the afflicted. May the news of the dawn of your coming bring healing to our hearts and may your promise of salvation fill us with joy and hope.
May the Church throughout the world be a beacon of light and hope for a world often darkened by sin.
Clothe your church with the joy of your salvation. Restore the fortunes of Christians persecuted for confessing Jesus as their Lord. Turn their weeping into rejoicing. Cause those who persecute them to repent and believe the good news.
Creator God, drive away despair from our politics, revive our dreams of justice and truth, and restore our passion for what is good and right. Establish your just and gentle rule throughout the world especially where there is conflict; where peace seems so far away and so many have lost everything, even the faint hope of a peaceful future. Govern the hearts and minds of all world leaders and those in authority that they may act justly, honestly and according to your will especially at this time of the global pandemic.
May we hear your voice Lord in the stillness of our restless hearts, calling us to a deeper friendship with you. Jesus is our rock and our hope — our cause for joy!
Bless and guide the people of your church here in Northern Illawarra. Give us faithful hearts, ears attentive to your Word, eyes which see the needs of others, hands skilled in building up the body of Christ, and tongues swift to pray, forgive, and encourage. May we be with and for one another, in a spirit of solidarity and love with all God’s people.
Lord let joy flood into our souls as we lean on You to be our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father, and our Prince of Peace! Help us to look with expectation to what You will do in our lives and fill us with Your joy!
We pray for your blessing on all those who lead, preach and teach and we pray especially for our team here in Northern Illawarra as they seek to do your will and guide us through our spiritual and worldly journey through Advent, until the day when we celebrate together the birth of your Son on Christmas Day.
Mighty God, we pray for your church today, gathering worldwide in churches, chapels and cathedrals, to praise you and to hear your holy word. Give us a sense of expectation as we come and inspiration as we go.
This is such a busy week! We pray we don't miss the joy of sharing the experience of Christmas with each other.
This Christmas may God grant us the light of Christmas, which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is purity; the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice; the belief in Christmas, which is truth; the all of Christmas, which is Christ.
Graciously answer our prayers for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns, one God, now and forever