Thursday 24 December – Wednesday 30 December 

As this is Christmas week, perhaps this prayer, written by Pete Greig (author of How To Pray) , for the many millions dealing with deep disappointment this Christmas is one to use and ponder each day throughout the week: .

May the love of God the Father bring unexpected comfort to your home today, connecting hearts that are apart and reconfiguring family this Christmas.

May the hope of God the Son, born into dark disruption and deep uncertainty, ignite a little light in your home today, surprising you with joy this Christmas.

May the peace of God the Holy Spirit console your soul today, filling your heart and home with the serenity of His presence this Christmas.

And so let us return to that first Christmas to find a fearful mother as she brings her baby into such a dark place and time in history. It is not what she wanted.

See the uncertainty etched in the man’s features, worried and unable to properly provide, feeling clumsy, unsure of his own role and involvement. It is not what he wanted.

Consider their sense of isolation at a time of such vulnerability, far away from loved ones and home. It is not what they wanted.

Imagine the frustration they feel, forced to be here now, against their will, at this most intimate moment by the relentless demands of a distant government. It is not what they wanted.

This year of all years, perhaps we may celebrate with new understanding the Christmas no one wanted. The fragility of life in the shadow of death, the hope of being in a dangerous environment, the love ephemeral, yet eternal, born to a tiny, vulnerable, isolated, disorientated, disappointed, fearful, fragile family, which is Emmanuel, God with us (when others can’t be with us) a Light that shines in the darkness, a defiant hope in spite of everything, Jesus Christ, the Lord.

People who specially need our prayers this week are those in Care Homes. those suffering from Covid -19 in hospitals, those working in hospitals, particularly those in the Intensive Care Units and the many who are utterly exhausted after weeks of working to fight Covic-19, those administering the new vaccines and those still researching more in the light of the new virulent strains of Covid in different parts of the world, the lonely, the vulnerable and the fearful, people far from home and loved ones, those worried about jobs and money, governments striving to make the best decisions to maintain the health of nations, lorry drivers and hauliers stuck at our ports and unable, so far, to be with their families and the possible waste of the food and other goods they carry, the Brexit negotiators striving to conclude an agreement which will be fair to all involved.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers in these worrying days in which, at the same time, we celebrate your coming among us, the Babe of Bethlehem, God with us.

O Holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us we pray, Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today!