God who lifts up the lowly and humbles the lofty,
God who bends down to be with us in our humanity,
we pray in the name of the Child of Bethlehem
for all of the children of this vast and beautiful world.
We pray for immigrant children, street children,
neglected and abused children, at-risk children,
and children in good, stable, loving homes.
We pray for safe environments where children can be children,
with the freedom to explore their common identity
without the shadows of fear and danger hanging over them.
We pray for the safety and security of people living in places
where deep divisions exist and turmoil has taken hold.
We admit to feelings of despair and anxious thoughts
as we consider the violence on our own city streets.
We confess to a sense of helplessness and uncertainty
as we question how things will ever change for the better.
In the midst of our prayers and concerns this holy season
we come to listen anew to the wondrous story
of how you become known to us in fragile flesh,
how you enter into the very places we most fear and bring peace,
how your goodness overcomes evil and your life overcomes death.
Jesus, born in a stable under the boot of imperial rule,
lives a life in the fullness of divine grace and truth
that challenges the oppressive violence of his time.
Jesus, born to a young girl living below the poverty line,
lives a life of radical trust, deep compassion and abundant mercy.
In this holy season may we also begin to trust you more fully.
May we also resist the violent ways of the world and seek paths of peace.
May we also challenge the systems that marginalize the poor and vulnerable.
May we do more than offer charity and hand-outs.
Rather let us stretch our limited consciousness
and begin to believe in the sacred worth of each person we meet.
Let us, like Mary, seek the favor of God.
May our souls also magnify the Lord and rejoice in God our Savior.
May we do our best to walk in the way of Jesus,
who is our life and our hope, now and always.
Words (c) 2013 Mark Lloyd Richardson