Dear friends, we’ve been preparing for Christmas with our children for days and weeks. Decorating and shopping. Baking and wrapping. Singing, praying, and reaching out to loved ones and friends. Tonight we anticipate tomorrow’s joy as our plans unfold and our family shares the celebration of Christmas.
Yet tonight as we hold that joy, many of us hold a measure of grief as well. You and I grieve the empty seats around our table. Sickness and suffering have touched the ones we love. Sweet and meaningful traditions have been taken from our hands. The wounds of this past year feel fresh and raw. We feel weary and fragile, unsure of what tomorrow might bring.
Through this Christmas Eve prayer, join us in taking your joys and griefs to our Father God. He will prepare our hearts to receive the gift we need more than anything—Jesus.
Father, our Christmas celebration is just a shadow of the lavish love and beauty you want to pour into our lives. I pray that you would help my family and me to draw close to you. Fill us with wonder at the gift of your Son.
Because of Jesus, we have hope.
He is our assurance that you have “plans to prosper [us] and not to harm [us], plans to give [us] hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Through Jesus you are taking every hardship and difficulty, every hurt and disappointment and working them for our good in the end. (Romans 8:28) Jesus offers the hope of heaven where you will wipe every tear from our eyes and we will walk in your light for eternity. (Revelation 21:4,24)
Because of Jesus, we have courage.
In this year we’ve watched evil and disease wreak havoc in our world. But in Christ, we are “more than conquerors.” We can face the future with boldness, since “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:37,35) You dress us in spiritual armor so we can stand our ground in the face of evil. (Ephesians 6:10-17) You keep us under your wing and hold us securely in your hands, forever.
Because of Jesus, we’re never alone.
We have felt the isolation from our extended family, our church community, our classmates and our friends. So many days have felt empty and long without loved ones to share them. Yet because of Emmanuel—“God with us”—we are not abandoned. You’re always near. You are an “ever-present help in trouble” whose ear is always open to “hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.” (Psalm 46:1, 10:17) Jesus is our brother and friend who never leaves our side.
Because of Jesus, we’re forgiven.
The stress of this year has exposed our short tempers, our critical spirits, and our ungrateful hearts. We’ve had a front-row seat to our selfishness and pride. Our troubles have revealed how weak our faith can truly be. Yet because of Jesus and his work on the cross, you call us innocent. Blameless. Restored. Redeemed. You take our guilt and shame and make us “white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18) Instead of punishment and separation from you, we’re accepted and united to you forever.
Lord, thank you for Christmas and your priceless gift of Jesus. In him, we “may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) You are everything that is right and beautiful. Hear this Christmas Eve prayer and be the center of our Christmas as we receive you and your love.