Last Tuesday we had our staff Christmas party at the parsonage. A spirit of laughter and lively exchange rose and fell over strains of Christmas music. Dan is quite the story teller and loves to hold forth. Max looks bemused but chimes in nicely. Gary and Mary Jo quickly got over being in the parsonage for the first time to embrace the moment. Our busyness aside, it was fun to see everyone relaxed.
But afterward Cecile and I looked at each other as we loaded the dishwasher and realized, “We forgot to thank God and bless the food before enjoying this feast.” That’s not acceptable. Cecile and I pause in fast food joints to pray before eating even a chicken sandwich. Not acceptable, but perhaps typical, in the rush of this season. Not acceptable, but perhaps paradigmatic for the frantic modern person.
Because it is never too late to seek God’s blessing, and because I am not alone in forgetting to return thanks in the busy season, let me offer this prayer for us all.
Lord our God,
you have blessed First Congregational
far beyond our expectations over the past year.
We thank and praise you for your many blessings.
We are in awe of all things possible with you in Christ.
We think perhaps we are the reason
to enjoy this sweet spot of a moment we share
in the prospered common life of our spiritual home.
But from the very moment we stepped out in faith,
to risk building and growing and adding new staff,
daring to embrace the dream of fuller dimensions of ministry,
you honored us by allaying our fears and expanding our comfort zones.
Now the congregation rallies around what you’ve already done among us
with our many faith promises to give, as work for a brighter future unfolds.
And it gives us the warm feeling of community as we act together,
bringing light, at a moment in history that seems very dark.
As we approach the birth of your Son, Jesus,
we pause to witness all that is now being birthed here among us.
No birth is without pain, but we would be faithless to fail to notice how
the body of Christ on Brookside Road is fortified, unified, and energized.
We bless you, O God, and all that sits upon our tables,
all of the great health our many households these days enjoy,
all of the ways your Spirit moves among us, week in and week out.
Accompany us now as we finish the advent journey toward the nativity.
And fill our faces with wonder as we kneel before Jesus to offer our gifts.