God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

This is My Christmas Prayer

I have to admit that this Christmas it has been harder to get into the season.  I love a good cheesy holiday movie and they have lost their sparkle this year.  So it has made me think about what is the message I want from Christmas this year. I want the light to com back, for prays to be answered.  I know is the year of Matthew, but I am partial to Luke's  Christmas Story.  So I sat down to read through the beginning.  

Luke’s Gospel opens with an answered prayer, the account of Elizabeth’s late-in-life pregnancy. Immediately after his introductory dedication to Theophilus, Luke introduces Zechariah and Elizabeth, who are childless in their old age. While Zechariah is at prayer, carrying out his priestly duties by offering incense in the sanctuary, he is visited by an angel who says, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John” (1:13). Now this news is not taken easily for Zechariah says you know I am old and well my wife is getting on in years.  The angel gets a little perturbed after all he is standing right in front of Zechariah and so he takes his voice until they come true.

The scene shifts to Mary who is also visited by an angel and is told she will bear a son.  While she too questions the angel, she accepts the news.  With this news literally in her, she visits her cousin Elizabeth.  And Elizabeth says:
‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’                                                                                  Luke 1:42-45
Elizabeth prayers over Mary.  She blesses Mary for having heard the word and believed.  At that point something inside Mary broke free.  She sings forth her own prayer:
‘My soul magnifies the Lord, 
   and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 
for you have looked with favor on the lowliness of your servant.
   Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is your name. 
Your mercy is for those who fear you
   from generation to generation. 
You have shown strength with your arm;
   You have scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 
You has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
   and lifted up the lowly; 
You have filled the hungry with good things,
   and sent the rich away empty. 
You have helped your servant Israel,
   in remembrance of your mercy, 
according to the promise you made to our ancestors,
   to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’  Luke 1:46-55
Mary's prayer is one of praise for God and what God has done and will do.  Her prayer is acknowledge meant of what God is doing for Mary and also for the world.  For she praises the God who lifts the lowly, fills the hungry and helped your servants at the same time you challenge the powerful.  Mary's pray take us beyond ourselves and back into an understanding of where God is at work.

We return to Zechariah and learn of the birth of his son, John.  At the birth, Zechariah prays:
‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
   for you have looked favorably on your people and redeemed them.
You have raised up a mighty savior for us
   in the house of your servant David,
as You spoke through the mouth of your holy prophets from of old,
   that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus you have shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
   and has remembered your holy covenant,
the oath that you swore to our ancestor Abraham,
   to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve You without fear, in holiness and righteousness
   before You all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
   for you will go before the Lord to prepare God's ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to God's people
   by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
   the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
   to guide our feet into the way of peace.’                                                                                                       Luke 1:68-79
Zechariah, like Mary, praise God for the actions God has taken in the world, showing mercy and saving the people.  He then blesses his child to be the one who prepares the way for God's dawn to break.

Mary's baby is born and his birth is announced to Shepherds who hear the angels sing this prayer:
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’  Luke 2:14
The shepherds after meeting the baby return hoe praising God.
When the Jesus was to be presented in the table we hear the prayers of two elders.  First Simeon says:
'Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
   according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
  which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
   and for glory to your people Israel.’                                                    Luke 29-32
This prayer of Zechariah's has become the final words at the end of worship.  Simeon sends us out in peace after having received the word of God and experienced the light.  Simeon's prayer is followed by Anna who on seeing the baby praises God.

The story of Christmas is a story of prayer, prayers of longing that are answered, prayers of praise, and prayers of challenge.  The story is filled with the longing for God to bring forth the light.  And this is exactly what I need to hear this Christmas.  I need to be reminded to surround my life and the life of those I love with prayer.  That we need to pray our longings and the answer may come long after we have believed it will be answer.  We pray remembering that God is seeking great changes and bringing mercy to God's people.  So this Christmas, this is my prayer.

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