Intercessions for Christmas Morning 2013

Detail from a stained glass window at All Saints, Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire
Detail from a stained glass window at All Saints, Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire

Here are the intercessions I have written for the service I will be attending on Christmas morning with my family. They are based, very loosely, on those labelled H5 in Christmas material in Common Worship Times and Seasons, with the addition of closing lines adapted from the R5 Acclamations.

I offer them in advance of the day itself just in case they are of any assistance to those for whom writing intercessions is not a welcome distraction from writing an essay!

May all those who stop by here know the presence of the Christ Child in their lives each and every day.

 

At the end of each section of our prayers this morning,
when I say
Lord Jesus,
please can you respond
hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus,
hear our prayer.

 

Jesus, whose mother was Mary:
we give thanks for those who have been mothers and fathers to us,
and for your own coming into this world.

We hold in prayer before you
all families of every size and description,
but especially those whose family life is broken in some way,
through abuse, bereavement, estrangement, debt, depression or distance.

Jesus, as Joseph and Mary were bound to each other in love for you,
draw each of us to those whom you have purposed us to love,
that we might do so with patience and perseverance, insight and inspiration.

Lord Jesus,
hear our prayer.

 

Jesus, cradled in a manger:
we give thanks for those places we regard as safe, warm and welcoming,
acknowledging the blessing of the security we experience.

We hold in prayer before you
all those who are homeless and living rough on the streets,
prey to violence, disease and in some cases their own addictions,
and all those refugees living a long way from home
in an effort to find a measure of safety,
and provide food and shelter for their children.

Jesus, as Mary gently cradled you,
hold in your loving care each desperate individual and struggling family,
that with Mary & Joseph they might know your presence
and one day come to proclaim your glory.

Lord Jesus,
hear our prayer.

 

Jesus, sharing the stable with the animals:
we give thanks for the wonders of your creation which you came into
so that we might know your light and life.

We hold in prayer before you those things we have done to your world
which have damaged it to breaking point,
our greed to possess the best of everything,
and our obsession with draining away the gifts and wonders of what we call the natural world.

Jesus, as the animals brought warmth to your first hours on earth,
give us the humility to set greed aside,
and the strength of will to use wisely the resources you provide.

Lord Jesus,
hear our prayer.

 

Jesus,worshipped by shepherds and kings:
we give thanks for the diversity of cultures, nations and races which are together
what makes us in the likeness of God.

We hold in prayer before you those disputed regions of the world,
where diversity of opinion or politics forms a barrier to peaceful co-existence,
and where borders and barriers seek to hide
brutal injustice, terror and torture.

Jesus, just as you were brought gifts,
help us to use wisely those gifts of forgiveness and reconciliation
which you have given us for the good of all nations.

Lord Jesus,
hear our prayer.

Jesus, our Emmanuel:
we give thanks that you came not only in the form of a human baby,
but continue to dwell with us through the power of your Holy Spirit.

We hold in prayer before you those in particular need
of the knowledge of your presence with them,
that through your Spirit they might know your strength,
your healing, your peace and your amazing love for them.

(We remember especially today…)

Jesus, just as you come to us daily,
may we consciously make time to come to you,
not just this Christmas Day, but every day of our lives.

Lord Jesus,
hear our prayer.

Jesus, we give thanks to you our living God:
born of the Virgin Mary,
revealed in glory,
worshipped by the angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed in throughout the world,
exalted to the highest heavens.

Blessed be God,
our strength and our salvation,
now and for ever.
Amen.

 

A further set of  Christmas Intercessions I wrote for 2018 are available here.

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The gospel of our lives – considering our own mortality

Calligraphy in the entrance hall to Harriet Monsell House, Ripon College Cuddesdon home to the sisters of St John Baptist and The Good Shepherd, as well as conference rooms at Ripon College Cuddesdon
Calligraphy in the entrance hall to Harriet Monsell House, Ripon College Cuddesdon home to the sisters of St John Baptist and The Good Shepherd, as well as conference rooms at Ripon College Cuddesdon

The most recent study weekend of my ordination training, was one of the most useful encountered so far as it focused on our future ministry with the dying and bereaved. But as part of the weekend, a reflective session encouraged us to consider our own mortality; what in life invites us to think about own own mortality?

We were offered some optional exercises that could have involved starting to write our will, or considering what we might put in a memory box about ourselves for a child or grandchild, or consider what we might write in an obituary about ourselves.

I found I couldn’t even consider doing any of them, alone. That is without my husband to talk them through with. What follows was what I did write, which probably also reflects a little of what I’ve discussing with my spiritual director recently about self-esteem:

We are not simply, only, merely, the person that we think we are, but we are also who our dearest family and our friends love, with the faults and foibles we don’t care to admit, but also with the skills and gifts we take for granted, attributes and beauty we simply don’t see in ourselves. To recognise our own mortality fully, do we not need to understand ourselves as others see us?

Surely we need to be realistic about the impact our death would have on those around us, both in the small practical day-to-day matters of life, and in the ‘me’-sized space that we would leave behind, a space that – depending on our view of ourselves – might be far larger, or perhaps rather smaller, than the one we tend to think we occupy.

How is the picture of ourselves enlarged, or diminished, when we place this process of creating a realistic picture of ourselves, in the light of Christ, and our relationship with God?

God sees all of us, inside and out, who we have been, who we are, and who we will be at the time of our death. Only he sees us perfectly, and has done from the first moment of our existence (Psalm 139:1-18).

Jesus has taken the journey of our mortality before, and for, us. He did the ordinary things of life that we do, as well as the extra-ordinary things of his servant-hood and ministry as the Son of God, that those of us who by our faith are known as Christians seek to emulate despite our weakness and humanity. These are things we read of in Gospels, the stories of Jesus doings in life, the good news of the impact his life had on the those he encountered in life, in death, and after his resurrection.

So when we’re asked to consider our own mortality, the fact that we will die, what we are being asked to consider is what will be the gospel of our own lives?