“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2)

Lord our God,
we praise you this Advent as we approach Christmas,
for your coming into our world in Jesus Christ,
to lighten our darkness with his love,
calling us to justice and peace.
We praise your name for coming to us in such an ordinary way,
through the birth of a baby,
so many years ago. 

We marvel at the Christmas story:
at Mary’s obedience,
and her willingness to accept the path that you had chosen for her,
to be the mother of the Saviour of the world.
We pray that her example, this Christmas,
may be a challenge to us
to put your purposes and your kingdom first,
and to respond to you with faith and humility.
Forgive our lack of dedication
and our tendency to ignore your calls,
and grant us the confidence to echo the words of Mary:
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” 

We thank you for all those today
whose loyalty is a challenge and an encouragement to us.
We also thank you for all those who support and uphold,
those who share and encourage, enabling others to act.
Help us to remember that it is together we realise your purpose,
and that every contribution is valuable in your sight.
Give us the faith to lean upon you and to trust each other,
and let us in the Christmas season
proclaim the good news of great joy:
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” 

We pray for all those who are sorrowful and downhearted on the threshold of Christmas,
who long for the light which is able to overcome all darkness.
We ask you to strengthen and comfort them, Lord
and to be with all who are unwell and frail,
and with those who mourn the loss of loved ones,
and are facing Christmas without their comfort and company. 

Come to us, and hear our prayer,
in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.