The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. O come, let us worship. Alleluia
Natvity scene by John August Swanson (California, 1938– )
Now that the winter sky was cold
Her hour was come, who sensed no gold
The streets of Bethlehem were wide
Gorged with Rome's taxing, on his side
And numb men, roused from frightened sleep,
The oxen watched above that deep
At dawn she lived, and knew her son.
God of joy, we celebrate the birth of your Son! In churches throughout the world, people are gathering. We are glad that we can celebrate together. Yet when we come to pray, we soon remember that there are many who are not able to be joyful this Christmas: survivors from war and disaster, loved ones of those killed by violence and accident, refugees—herded together behind wire, and people sleeping rough, and too many others. Loving God, we ask for your compassion on those who cannot rejoice. Help us to know how to celebrate and how to show mercy.
Dear Lord, how deeply we pray that the nations of the earth would respond to the gospel of peace, the goodwill your angels announced to the shepherds at Bethlehem. We pray for the people of Bethlehem today—help them somehow to find a way to peace.
We pray for the church; may it truly represent the good news of Jesus. As the church worships the Christ-child, by the power of your Spirit give new love where there is dispute, new hope where there is struggle and setback, and new faith in your power and goodness.
Lord Jesus, you were born as a vulnerable child into an ordinary family, to experience the ups and downs of family life. Often, we feel vulnerable at Christmas time. Be with those who find loneliness hard to bear, who experience hurt or disappointment. Be close to those for whom Christmas is a reminder of tragedy or bereavement. We give thanks for the happiness of Christmas, but we ask that you help us when we feel sadness or distress.
Heal, we pray, all who need restoration in body, soul and spirit. As holidays begin, we ask for rest and safety for those who are taking a break and encouragement for those who need to work.
We thank you, Lord, for the angels' proclamation of peace and goodwill to all and for the promise of eternal life. May your kingdom come and your will be done. We thank you in the name of Jesus whose birth we celebrate.
Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle, from a poem by Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) set to a melody by Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787). Played and sung by Andrea Bocelli, 2009.
Tu scendi dalle stelle, o Re del cielo,
A te, che sei del mondo il Creatore,
From starry skies descending,
Thou art the world's Creator,