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Sometime during each Christmas season I become weighed down with a familiar heavy and very sad feeling. Christmas always brings to me the reality that each year for most of my short life I have been concerned both for those who do not have enough and also for those families who spent very well. I pray for those who do not have enough.
For those who have worked, struggled, earned and spent more money than they have, I especially have pity. The Christmas season is full of fear, anguish, remorse and guilt. Providing for a family is never easy, and at Christmas it is terrible in economic hard times.
So, this year I’m praying for a homemade Christmas. I’m asking my children and friends not to spend a dime, but to write a short note and fold it into an envelope. I’ll provide the paper, envelope and pen. I’d treasure such notes forever and stick them in a Bible, or favorite book of poems, when they will fall out during a quiet time of reading and prayer.
Or grandchildren can color a picture for me, if they would. Best of all, I’d hope that we all could begin to celebrate Christmas again, and not just try to pay for Christmas.
We have hope for this, because we have Jesus Christ. Humankind may eventually listen to Jesus. Do not let your heart be weighed down by the worries of this life (paraphrasing Luke 21:34).
Pray for peace
1O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
2They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the air for food, the flesh of your faithful to the wild animals of the earth.
3They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them.
4We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us.
5How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealous wrath burn like fire?
6Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call on your name.
7For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation.
8Do not remember against us the iniquities of our ancestors; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low.
9Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and forgive our sins, for your name’s sake.
10Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes.
11Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power preserve those doomed to die.
12Return sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors the taunts with which they taunted you, O Lord!
13Then we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
5Now you are walled around with a wall; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike the ruler of Israel upon the cheek. 2But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. 3Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. 4And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; 5and he shall be the one of peace. If the Assyrians come into our land and tread upon our soil, we will raise against them seven shepherds and eight installed as rulers.
34“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” 37Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. 38And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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