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Christmas through the eyes of faith

on . Posted in A word from Richard

These are Judy's helpful prayers for our carols service - well worth reading and using as prompts for your prayers:

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.  Lord it will be quite dark when we leave here – but we praise you because the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it - the light that Jesus brought shines whatever time of day or night it is – and whatever is going on in our lives.

Thank you for this season of Christmas when we remember the birth of Jesus. The shepherds glorified and praised God for what they had seen and heard at that manger – and no matter what this year has brought may there be joy in remembering the truths in this story. But we do lift before you all those for whom this season is especially painful. Those who are missing a loved one this Christmas – whether for the first time, the tenth or the twentieth. Those who are facing ill health in themselves or someone close to them – just lift them by name to the Lord now. Those who are homeless or hungry, the refugees, those in financial difficulties, those who are stressed by all that they want to get done before Christmas Day, those out of work or dreading going to work for whatever reason, those whose family life is a mess, and all those who are scared by the uncertainties of life. When everyone else is happy it can be really hard for those who are not – Lord give us sensitivity to those around us who need a friendly word, a smile or a hug – and give us the heart to reach out to them with your love. 

After the birth Mary, Joseph and the baby had to flee into Egypt to escape Herod’s plans. Now Christians may feel they need to flee from Egypt where being a Christian can be very difficult – and even dangerous. We pray for all those around the world who long to rejoice openly at the good news of Jesus’ birth but whose very lives may be in danger if they do so. Lord give them courage and a strong sense of your delight in them – keep them going, when they daren’t tell anyone they are following you, thrown out by their families, sometimes through long years in prison, cut off from those they love – bring justice and freedom Lord and may they know you will never leave them or forsake them.

We pray especially for the diocese of Egypt, for Bishop Mouneer and for the Education programme and the Menara Centre for children with special needs in Menouf, which we are supporting this Christmas. Thank you for the work of that school, bringing support and joy to the children with mental or physical difficulties and their families. Bless the staff in this work and may it be a blessing to many there.

And finally Lord we lift ourselves to you. It’s easy to celebrate the cute story of a baby born in a manger – but let us never forget that that baby came to die in our place – a hideous death on a cross, that we might know the joy of forgiveness for our sins as He took them on Himself. That’s His gift to us – what will we give Him in return?

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, full of the Spirit, hear our prayer, receive our praises, fill our lives.  

O God, who makest us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of thy only son, Jesus Christ: Grant that as we joyfully receive him for our redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold him, when he shall come to be our judge; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

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