intercessions – december 11

God of comfort,
Be near to all those who are sick and dying. Only You can truly comfort those who are facing death, but thank you for letting us participate in your comforting presence. Surround the frail ones with your peace and ease their loneliness. Bring human hands close by to touch and tend to them. Make the arms of the caregivers strong, but do not let their hearts grow hard in the sight of another’s pain. Assure them all of your love which is stronger than death, and steady them in the many rushing waters of uncertain days. We look to the restoration of all things in Christ, in Your time.
Amen.

prophets of Christmas

When you think of prophets at Christmastime, you likely remember those Old Testament sages, like Isaiah and Malachi, who foretold the birth of Christ hundreds of years before the angel’s appearance to Mary. The prophecies are true! It is a miracle, we say, and rightly so. But the birth story has its own prophets, people who recognize and bear and declare the Word of the Lord to others. They are miraculous in their time, for they are women. Before John the Baptist prepares the way in the wilderness, his mother Elizabeth is the first to call Jesus Lord. Before the shepherds run to spread the good news in the towns, Mary gives a magnificent oracle of prophetic praise. Before Jesus preaches in Jerusalem, the old prophetess Anna tells all who are looking for Jerusalem’s redemption that the Redeemer is here.

Luke gives us the names and stories of these unlikely prophets in his gospel. They are among the first to participate in the Spirit’s work surrounding Christ. They are among the first to tell us who this Child is, and why He has come. They speak into the future, to all who open their hearts to the advent of Christ saying “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word.”

In the days leading up to Christmas, I plan to post glimpses of each of their stories. In all the noise and busyness of our Decembers, may we hear and receive again God’s word to us in Christ.

intercessions

May the God who never sleeps make your sleep sweet tonight, whenever you get there. May He yet provide a pillow and send His angels as your covering. May He watch over your weary body and call your dust to life when the day dawns. 

intercessions

My friend Travis suggested I write out my “intercessions.” I’m not very good at them. But maybe this will help me pray.

God of travellers,

I’m in Union Station today, and there are so many people. I don’t know how to pray for them all. I pray they will get where they’re going safely and that they will find home or hospitality at their journey’s end. I pray your grace will sit beside them on the train, and that they will be able to see you. I pray they will hear a whisper of your voice amidst the noisy gongs and clanging cymbols. Help me to love the ones I rub shoulders with, espeically the pushy impatient ones and the ones who talk too loudly on their cell phones beside me. To my friends on the GO train, let me be an aroma, like the smell of Cinnabon in the concourse, the sweet smell of bread and love. Keep us all safe and bring us home to you.

Amen.

putting the bulbs to bed

Having a garden helps me understand God. This morning I planted bulbs. It was four degrees when I went outside, but the sun was shining and stirring up the sweet aroma of resting dirt and rotting leaves. I had on my long-johns and puffy plaid jacket. I felt my way through the squiggly worms and small stones of the little plot under the walnut tree, digging down deep enough to put the daffodil bulbs to bed. How odd to be planting when all else is dying. What a ridiculous sort of hope it seems. I sang them a lullaby, praying all would be well, that the squirrells wouldn’t get in and gobble them up. It’s somehow easier to pray with dirt under my fingernails. I pray not only for the daffodils, but for my own heart. I know it’s full of rocks and weeds and ravens. There are days I’m sure it’s frozen over, days when all seems dead. But by a miracle, God has made death his speciality. So I pray that God will feel like gardening this morning too, that his little spade is sharp, that he’s saved a handful of crocuses for me.