It is always challenging, this waiting in Advent, and preparing our home comes easier than preparing our hearts.   Our family has decorated, baked, and shopped.  We have hosted, made merry, and traveled to the Northeast to be with family and friends.  Our activity these past few weeks accomplishes many things, but has it prepared us for the gift we are about to receive?  Not really.

Perhaps it has been in moments of quiet contemplation, at the hanging of the greens at Cannon Chapel, and in challenging discussions in Sunday School that we have truly prepared.  It is in these forms of active waiting that we have marveled again at the great mystery of God’s wondrous love through the birth of the baby Jesus.

Famine, storms, and fatigue, though, leave us restless.  Poverty, homelessness, and the impact of mental illness in our community strain our faithfulness.  The deaths of children in the Middle East, in Afghanistan, and in Connecticut heighten our anticipation of God’s great in-breaking.

Frederick Buechner, in The Hungering Dark, offers the following prayer, which we share with you this Christmas.

Lord Jesus Christ, Thou Son of the Most High, Prince of Peace, be born again into our world. Wherever there is war in this world, wherever there is pain, wherever there is loneliness, wherever there is no hope, come, thou long-expected one, with healing in thy wings.  Holy child, whom the shepherds and the kings and the dumb beasts adored, be born again.  Wherever there is boredom, wherever there is fear of failure, wherever there is temptation too strong to resist, wherever there is bitterness of heart, come, thou blessed one, with healing in thy wings.

Amen and Amen.