Sometimes, Jesus, we confess that we wish we never had to deal with thee as a grown up Jewish prophet. We are soothed by the sentimentalities that attach to little babies, sweet and gentle, even as we are sure you never cried or bawled like babies that annoy us. We like wise men and shepherds and glowing angels and mooing cattle. Yes, Jesus, they are an interesting and attractive mix of characters that give thy birth the unthreatening aura of innocent kindness and generosity. In your swaddling clothes you aren’t a threat to anyone, neither to emperors nor even to folk like us who just want to be comforted and affirmed in our daily travails of living.
O Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, why did you have to grow up and put so much pressure on how we live are lives. Why did you become that sort of Savior who so harshly criticizes our complacencies and our desires to be left alone without feelings of guilt? Why did you command us to turn the other cheek, to refuse to return evil for evil done to us, to love folk that seem so strange and inimical to the ways we prefer to live? Why didn’t you just stay there in that mythical manger and let us adore your childish innocence? Why did you provoke just those political authorities upon whom we depend for security and to keep the wolfish criminals at bay? Why, Jesus, did you end up on a cross, slaughtered by all the powerful folk we are inclined to trust with our lives and purse? Why were you a criminal when we all know criminals are those who defy authority and power? Is it really necessary that the shadow of thy cross should fall across thy manger?
All right, Lord Jesus, here is a prayer request. This Advent season still has a few weeks to go until we have to confront the inescapable fact that you—a Jewish baby become prophet and Savior—are right here in our world and that we will have to deal with the sort of life you lived, the unnerving shape of your teachings, and your fate on a brutal cross. Give us a little time, we pray, between now and Christmas for us to smell the pine trees so grandly decorated, to sing those hymns that stir our hearts in the middle of wintry days and sad nights. Give us time to make a spectacle of thy infant gentleness and time simply to adore Mary and Joseph and thee from afar. Then, Jesus, after Christmas we promise to be ready for that steady, narrow, but oddly joyful and redemptive journey through winter into spring toward thy cross.
Yearning for peace and meaning and hope, we so pray. Amen
2006 at St Paul UMC in Muskogee OK
O Lord God, you created us and all that has life and being, you called Israel to be thy people, and you came among us in Jesus the Jew from Nazareth, and thy Spirit continues to inspire good spirits and broods over the whole world. Lord, as powerfully meaningful as these words are—words we repeat in so many ways in our worship and prayers—we confess that in the midst of this Christmas season we find ourselves overwhelmed with worry, fear, with conflicts, controversies, wars, with theft and malfeasance, and losses far beyond anything we know how to control or correct. We really feel lost.
We know you do not want us to retreat into a private, inward spirituality insensitive to the woes of our neighbors, who are also thy children. But what are we to do in this Christmastide in which we remind ourselves that in Jesus you came to us in a Jew born and raised in astonishingly humble surroundings. And we remind ourselves that this Jesus so irritated powerful leaders that he was killed in a manner intended to demonstrate to the world—to us— who is really in charge of life and death. The politically powerful, in possession of money, arms, swords, spears, armor—those weapons deemed necessary to impose and keep order—they thought then and they think now that they are still in charge.
That’s it Lord: in the midst of the disorder in our times and in our lives, how are we to live if it is true that Jesus is the Savior of the world?
Say that again, Lord: you want us to live as though all of our sins have been forgiven and as though the sins of our neighbors and our enemies have been forgiven? You want us to reckon with the abundance of thy grace for the whole world and you want us to learn how to be gracious? You want us to share what we have—no matter how little or how much—with others and not simply with family or the neighbors from the neighborhood but with those others near and far whose needs are so urgent and desperate?
You know, Lord, that doing and being gracious is not easy and is not what comes rushing to mind when we are experiencing losses and are scared about what the future might bring. So, Lord, you really do understand our hesitations and fears, but nevertheless you still want us to be the Body of Christ in the world—the bearer of Christ’s mercy for the world? To be a generous and life-giving Body, not bent on revenge but on peaceful hope?
O Lord, we lift these matters of heart, these matters of life and death, these matters of grace and forgiveness unto thee in the name of the one whose Body we have been called to be, namely, thy Son our Lord, Jesus of Nazareth, born in poverty, bold in spirit, and crucified dead, but raised from the dead as light and hope for the world.
2008 at St. Paul UMC in Muskogee, OK
These and many more prayers are posted on this site under Writings/Prayers
Peace, Dear Grammar Site Friends