And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. –Matthew 2:9-11
O Lord, around the world we celebrate the arrival of wise men to Bethlehem, according to our own traditions. Whether this is with gifts for children, practical jokes, days off for women, cakes, or feasts, we rejoice with exceeding great joy for the birth of Jesus Christ.
We pray you to bestow wisdom upon:
- Afghanistan, where President Karzai has decided to release 72 prisoners considered by the United States to be Taliban.
- Chile, where the government has declared a health alert in four regions due to the air quality formed by 70 separate forest fires.
- Colombia, where new regulations aimed at preventing coal export spillage and pollution will cost the government substantial royalty sums but will protect the environment.
- France, where the top court has banned a show by a controversial comic who has seven convictions for anti-Semitic hate speech.
- Iraq, where human rights activists have condemned abuses against civilians by both government troops and insurgents in the Anbar province.
- Japan, where an explosion in a Mitsubishi factory killed at least five people and injured at least 12.
- Pakistan, where a 15-year-old boy was killed when he tackled a man wearing a suicide vest standing outside of his school, saving the school building; 2,000 students; and the school employees.
- Russia, where police search for suspected Islamist militants who killed five people in a city located 300 kilometers from the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, scheduled to begin in less than one month.
- Sudan, where the army advances against rebel forces who have used machine guns against civilians, torched entire villages, and looted crops, leaving at least 1,000 people dead and more than 200,000 people displaced in the past month.
We rejoice with exceeding great joy:
- that the record cold temperatures that froze nearly all of the United States have improved.
- that Japan‘s Prime Minister Abe is expected to pledge more than $14 billion in aid and trade deals to Africa during his visit there this week.
- that Germany has joined international efforts to destroy Syria‘s stockpile of chemical weapons.
We ask for your blessings upon all persons in a state of transition as we begin a new year and a new season:
- those who are without a home
- those who are between jobs
- those who recover from an illness or from surgery
- those who welcome home a newborn or adopted child
- those who are unable to conceive
- those returning from war
- those returning to war
- those who are divorcing
- those who mourn.
May this season of Epiphany bring much laughter and light to our own communities and to the whole world. Amen.