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All Oppression Shall Cease

A Prayer for Christmas Eve

Tonight Lord, we come to you celebrating the incarnation, celebrating the Light that broke through the darkness, celebrating the birth of your son Jesus Christ. You called to us through the ages, telling us that a Messiah would come. We remember the prophets of old, prophets who demanded to be heard, who dared to speak of a child to come – the unexpected liberator of the people, the vulnerable incarnation of you God, the redeemer of the world. They walked by faith, and held onto hope for a day when the long awaited Messiah would appear.

We remember those who patiently and faithfully waited for the coming of the Prince of Peace, those who anticipated the coming of the Messiah, enduring years of turmoil, captivity, and occupation, praying for the arrival of the one who would bring peace to the world. We wait for the fulfillment of Your promise that “mourning and crying and pain will be no more,” that You will bring peace on Earth. Help us to join You in this work, for as we have often sung, “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.”

We remember Mary – innocent and powerful, sacred and scared, worried and waiting as the Savior for all the world grows in her womb. She sings boldly when she might be meek; she bears her role in history with the confidence of a warrior; she is the beginning of a mighty revolution as the proud are brought down and the lowly are lifted up. You call us, like Mary, to step out of the roles that society has planned for us. You call us to continue the work of our barrier-breaking savior, responding with joyful courage. 

We remember Joseph, worn-out traveler and worried husband, doing what is necessary for the sake of his family bearing the stifling burden of poverty. And yet his hope remained certain in your promise. We pray for those like Joseph, migrating far from home when there is no choice, fiercely devoted to the ones they love, unwavering in their belief that there is room for all in the kingdom of God. We give thanks to You, Lord, for showing Your great love for us through the restorative work of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to love one another, just as You have loved us.

Tonight we remember the shepherds, workers for the common good, steadfast watchmen, isolated and alone, far from the warmth of home, doing the job no one wants. And yet, God you saw them. You valued them. These shepherds, these marginalized outcasts, became the first to know and preach the great news, that the Messiah had come. May we watch for you God in the darkness, may we watch the skies, anticipating the breaking of the darkness by your heavenly hosts singing that once again Christ is born. 

Your birth is not a one day celebration, but a transformation Lord. You are the thrill of hope for which the weary world rejoices. You have made all things new and so yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Let us hear these words now which we have heard many times before and begin to live them anew; 

“Truly he taught us to love one another; His law is love and His Gospel is Peace. Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother and in His name, all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, let all within us Praise His Holy name. Christ is the Lord; O praise His name forever! His power and glory evermore proclaim.”

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