by Rev. Claire Beutler-Cruise
God of sun and God of snow,
we thank you for the grandeur of creation,
for the variety that surrounds us,
for your limitless creativity.
In the midst of this winter weather,
as the days shorten and the darkness lengthens,
keep our hearts warm in faith.
Remind us that we are dependent upon you,
and that your loving grace is always wrapped around us to hold us fast.
We remember those who cannot be with us today, for health reasons.
Keep them in your loving care,
and restore them to wholeness as you will.
Be with those who love and care for them,
that their courage and strength rises to their need.
O God who welcomes the stranger,
be with those who travel this season.
Be with soldiers,
and all who are far from home
or alone in this season of reunions and family gatherings.
Be with those for whom family gatherings are not a blessing,
those for whom the season is not happy,
and those who have no home.
In the midst of all the expectations,
bring us your reassuring peace.
Bless those who mourn,
and hold their grief in your heart,
that, in due time,
their mourning may turn again into dancing,
and their sorrow into joy.
O God of all life,
we thank you for our young people,
especially those who faithfully retell your Good News of Christ’s birth,
in words or actions.
Stir up their hearts,
that this miraculous story may become a touchstone for their lives,
and be a guiding light as they make their way through a dark world.
Bless their mentors,
who, in Christian love and faith pass the life-saving story on to the coming generations.
that we may be a beacon on the hill for all who seek You.
O God, you heard the prayers shared by the people gathered here
as well as the prayers of our hearts, too deep for words.
We add all our prayers to the one prayer Jesus taught us, saying:
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and testing, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and for ever. Amen.