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Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
Almighty loving God, You are the Father, the Creator of all people and places and the maker of Heaven and Earth. You are the Son, the Word become Flesh who came to save us all. And you are the Spirit, filling us here today with love and hope. You have called us by name and claimed us to be yours. You know us completely, and we belong to you. Father God, you planted the seeds of love and hope and compassion by offering to us your ultimate love, your complete hope and your fullest compassion.
We confess that even on this day, your day, so close to the celebration of the birth of Christ our Savior, so soon after we praised the newborn king and recognized your victory, our minds still tend to wander. Instead of focusing our hearts and minds on you, we let ourselves be distracted by life. We let worry and fear triumph over hope. We see hatred and bigotry and suffering and we say “someone ought to do something about that.” Indifference invades our minds.
And yet even in the face of our own indifference, you have loved us. Lord, we thank you for claiming us, for loving us so much that you sent your Son to forever connect us to you. We give you thanks for this day, for our lives and for one another. We give you thanks for this moment together where we can share friendship and fellowship, share joy and love, share hope and forgiveness.
Lord as the cold weather rolls through our community, we ask that you place your protecting hand over those who are exposed and vulnerable. We ask that they may find the comfort that we so often take for granted. For our neighbors, both known and unknown to us but all known to you, we pray for justice and peace. For friends who grieve the loss of loved ones, or who are anxious about illnesses, or experiencing the uncertainty of a job loss, we humbly ask for your strength. And Father we lift up especially those whose stories never reach our ears. We know, O God, that you hear them and hold them close.
We know and trust, oh Lord of hope, that you are always with us. Your loving embrace will never let us go. Trusting indeed that you are always there, we pray to you now as your Son taught us, saying together,
“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.