On Sunday morning, December 14, 2014, our Grace Church Elder, Todd Walker shared a congregational prayer with us. The backdrop was a “Christmas theme” that spoke deeply of our needs before the Father for His help in the battles we face. The holidays have passed and yet this prayer is for every day of our year (From Janet Schneider to you, Women of Grace).
Congregational Prayer for 12/14/14
Sermon text is Isaiah 61:1-4
Father, we come to you this morning like expectant little children, our noses pressed against the glass, shouting joy to the world, the Lord has come! And yet we wait and watch for your great and awesome return when you will descend in glory and power, and you will whistle and your servants will be gathered safely in from the four winds. And like children, Father, we itch and scratch against the ‘now and not yet’ nature of our ultimate salvation. Father, we want to be faithful to the end, through suffering, through pain, through loneliness, through sudden unexpected trauma and also long term, exhausting seasons of grief. And we confess that we are not strong enough, or brave enough or clean enough to remain faithful till the end. So Father we ask for courage and comfort, so that we can stand in all things, and strangely and ironically, we know this as well, that it is in this holiday season that many among us struggle the most. … So, Father, for them especially we ask for courage and comfort.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the discord that is Christmas, the electric juxtaposition of the babe in the manger with the horsemen of Herod and the murder of the innocents. We thank you for the discord between the worship of wise kings, and the flight of refugees in the night, the discord between the fulfillment of long awaited prophecy and the knowledge of Simeon that a deep sorrow would one day pierce the heart of this baby’s mother! This world of discord is exactly where we live Father. We know it all too well, and we thank you this morning that the great bells of Christmas carry in their notes an unmistakable cannon shot of victory won. And they signify a ferocious, unstoppable invasion into enemy territory, the piercing of this earth and all of its stongholds with a tsunamai proclamation of complete, total restoration, judgement and victorious redemption.
Father, we thank you that in addition to the great call to arms of the incarnation, you have given us formidable weapons for the fight: prayer, the Word of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, the never ceasing intercession by our great Savior who sits at the right hand of God right now … interceding for us continually, for the Spirit of God who prays for us with soul-rending power that your word says is beyond our ability to express in mere human language, even the ordinances of baptism and communion which are our unique gifts of power and identity. By them we know who we are! We thank you that these weapons used in and for the protection and encouragement of the body of Christ, even right here, right now, in this place, are spiritual weapons of power that are according to your word …able to ‘destroy strongholds.’
And so we come, the bound, the poor, the captive, for whom the prison bars have been blown off the hinges, released, freed from our poverty, knowing that even our present brokenness will one day be healed in grace and stunning beauty. Here we are, such as we are … at your service, and in that service we sing to one another, listening, straining for the cannon shots, and rejoicing in a simple Christmas carol:
Our call to war, to love the captive soul,
But to rage against the captor;
And with the sword that makes the wounded whole
We will fight with faith and valor.
When faced with trials on ev'ry side,
We know the outcome is secure,
And Christ will [shall] have the prize for which He died—
An inheritance of nations ("O Church Arise" by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend).