As we approach the end of another year, we tend to reflect and look back over the last year or decade but unless this informs our choices and behaviours going forward it is in danger of being an empty and futile activity. So many have expressed frustration, anger or disconnectedness with the political process in so many countries for a variety of reasons but there is an upsurge in an expressed awareness of our shared humanity and planet and the need to protect this for our future survival.
Lord God, hear us and guide us to open our hearts and minds to follow you rather than the latest demagogue or social media influencer.
In the Incarnation, you came as a helpless baby, in an occupied country, to a skilled artisan and his fiancée, not even married. The family became refugees to save your life. No palace or big country pile, no soft, cushy number but a life of graft and community, growing and learning; but it had purpose, dignity, time spent building a relationship with you, love and service. Galilee was not a high status and sought out part of the country, but in the difficulties and challenges Jesus grew in years, knowledge and understanding. Lord, more people in the world today experience similar circumstances than the much vaunted and sought-after high income, high consumption, cushioned life of the powerful and elites.
Lord God, forgive us when we fail to recognise and value the dignity and humanity of all who share our small planet. So easily anything could happen to any of us, if not already done so.
: those who are homeless.
: those living with physical or mental illness or addictions.
: those struggling to make ends meet and even put food on the table, clothes on their backs, heating and lighting, clean water and sanitation, education for their children, health care and safety from violence. We name among them those in Yemen, the refugees and stateless in Europe, Mexico, the Asian sub-continent.
: our neighbors, when often their distress is hidden behind closed doors
: those who slip through the safety nets (where they exist) for those in need,
: those out of work and finding jobs hard to find especially ones which provide regular income and a sense of worth and dignity; we name those in Iraq freed from ISIS but feeling abandoned by the corruption endemic in their government systems relying on charitable micro start-ups.
: those facing economic and natural disasters. Among them those in Australia, the US, the Philippines, Greenland, Vanuatu and other low-lying countries in Micronesia.
: those suffering injustice and living in fear or war; including Chile, Yemen, Syria, and Myanmar
: the seemingly world-wide endemic of violence against women and girls: we give thanks for those highlighting this and struggling to make changes often at great personal danger and cost in India, France, Spain, and so many other countries.
: those in power who seek self-aggrandisement at the expense of belittling and dehumanising others who generally have less access to the megaphone of the media.
We give thanks for the courage and endurance of those politicians, lawyers, community advocates and others of faith and none shining the light of truth challenging these life-sapping deceits. We name among others those in China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela, the UK, the US, Mexico.
Lord God, we pray that the way of the Prince of Peace may prevail. This newborn babe, grew into the Servant King living daily in his actions and attitudes the equal worth and vulnerabilities of all people springing from a love for all, and all your creation.
We give thanks for the many who share their time, energy, gifts and skills in enabling others to survive and hopefully start to achieve their God-given potential.
May the hope brought by the Incarnation inspire us.
May the joy of the new-life witnessed by so many, give us optimism and the challenge of a new way of living the future.
In the words of one of the verses of the Austrian carol, “Still, still, still”,
“Love, love, love. No greater love than his;
While ‘Christ the Lord’ the angels name him,
We with fervent hearts acclaim him.
Love, love, love. No greater love than his.”