O Lord of Hosts, we have heard once again the rumblings out of Bethlehem of thy sure invasion of our privacy and our kingdoms. You keep coming after us and disturbing our peace. You will not let us alone and you will not leave us to our own devices. We confess that in our better moments we long for a savior who will do our bidding and take up our private and public causes. But these rumblings of advent warn us that you want to disturb our lives and save us on thy own terms for thy kingdom.
We earnestly pray this third Sunday of advent that you not take from us the warm sentimentalities of our Santa Claus Christmas. Yes, we know we spend too much, and we purchase the sentiments without glad hearts. But at least this hectic season keeps the economy going, people have work, corporations thrive when we buy. Please, O Lord—the One proclaimed by John the Baptist—do not disturb us with any other news than that the real meaning of Christmas simply is the warm fuzzies of family, the lighted evergreens, the tinsel stars, and the cozy songs that wring tears from our eyes.
Do not disturb us with the thunder of war and destruction that the powerful Herods of the world are wreaking on near and distant battlefields. Soothe us with the thought that these battlefields will bring a better future and will surely protect our freedoms and our right to privacy and our right to live our lives on our own terms.
Please, O God of our own desires, just leave us alone. The last thing we want to hear now is that you are coming toward us out of the midst of stark poverty to be born a poor Jew who will challenge the mighty powers of life and death that we both fear and love. Do not beckon us to any kingdom that calls upon us to repent of our illusions and betrayals, that calls us to lay down our security devices and disband our armies, that calls us to comfort the prisoners among us, that calls us to feed the hungry, that calls us to clothe the naked and forsaken.
O God, we are so afraid of being called to these sacrifices that we will surely strike out in violence at any one who lays another guilt trip on us. If you really want to do us a favor, forget that stuff about a new kingdom of peace, about death dealing crosses, about saints who give without restraint. Just leave us to Santa Claus and Wal Mart and peanut brittle and hot chocolate.
O God of all truth, forgive what we have been praying, even as we admit that these are the honest discourses of our hearts. Teach us how to speak of thy coming kingdom, of thy mighty power and love in such a way that we might become thy servants following the way of Lord Jesus, the One we crucified. Teach us once again just what thy kingdom is about and what you want from us and how you want to redeem us. We are really quite lost.
Come, O come Emmanuel. Do not leave us to our own devices. Do not leave us alone in the darkness of this world of selfish conflict and violence that is of our own making. Come Emmanuel, shine thy light into the darkness and we will surely repent and change our ways.