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December 2002

Loving God: With holy joy we praise you for your promise that Mary would bear your divine Son, and for your wonderful assurance that he would be IMMANUEL, "God with us."

We thank you for having been with us from the very beginning in earth and air, water and fire, in all the forces of nature.

We praise you for being with your chosen people, the Jews, and with your later choice of a people, the church, as a divine power present in their midst, caring deeply for them, for us.

We acknowledge with humble gratitude your divine presence in our hearts, which are restless until they find rest in you. We give you thanks for bringing us up short when we suddenly discover you in the face of a half-starved African child, or of a homeless old woman pushing her grocery cart with all her belongings. We thank you, above all, for being "God with us" in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, through whom you shared your whole life with us, from birth to death.

Be with us, O God, in sickness and in health. Heal us and keep us whole, that we may faithfully and effectively serve you. Be with us in joy and in sorrow. Let our thankfulness for your presence with us shine from our faces into the lives of all those about us. Let our courage in the face of grief persuade others of the strength and comfort we receive from you.

Be with us also, Lord God, when we are tempted to do evil. Show us ourselves as we are when we are being unreasonable, stubborn, puffed up with pride, insensitive to the feelings of others, clumsily manipulative of them, or generally a nuisance. Help us to take ourselves less seriously and to take you and your will for us far more seriously. And let us find ways to reveal to others, modestly and winsomely, the glorious difference that having "God with us" makes in our lives.

We offer this prayer in the name of Immanuel, your Son Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.


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