Holiday songs fill the air.
Scent of pine and pie fill our noses.
Brisk cold air fills our lungs.
Good food fills our tummies.
Good thoughts and emotions fill our minds.
For many of us, this is the experience the holiday season brings, fullness and gratefulness. Others of us, however, cannot boast of such experiences. For some, the sights, sounds, smells, thoughts, emotions, and sensations of the holiday season bring with them a sense of emptiness, dread and even unrelenting pain.
In 2011, I had the honor of being asked by Pastor Julie Pennington-Russell to deliver the prayer during the Blue Christmas service at the First Baptist Church of Decatur in Decatur, Georgia. Below you will find the prayer that was placed on my heart to deliver. Please share it with those who may benefit or recite it for those who cannot recite it for themselves—
God, we come to you this evening from so many different places: wholeness, brokenness, fullness, and emptiness. We ask Lord, that you open and fill our hearts and minds in this moment so that we may feel Your presence, hear Your voice, sense Your will, and heed Your guidance.
In many hearts within these walls and beyond, there is goodness and abundance; there is also so much pain… so much suffering. It is from and for those hearts that we come to You on this evening, God.
Where there is Depression, grief, and confusion we ask for peace, clarity and support from those able to offer friendship, words of comfort or simply a silent presence.
Where there is Addiction, poverty, and illness we ask for healing of our bodies, minds and spirits; we ask for help in all possible forms, and hope that will grant us the motivation to live another day even when the alternative seems so seductive.
Where there is Fear, separation, and hopelessness we ask for the strength to turn to You, God, in our darkest hours. Endow us with a sacred trust in Your unconditional love for us, even when….no, especially when we cannot sense Your love on our own.
Where there is Self-hate, suffering, and shame we ask that You help us to see ourselves, our lives and each other as You see us. Help us, God to become fully aware of our sacred worth as treasures in these earthen vessels. Help us to withstand the negative messages and jabs from those who, because of their own pain, seek to define us as worth-less.
And finally, God, during this holiday season, we ask that where there is Contention, strife, and anger within families, and among friends that you bring them together so that they dine on seats of humility, drink from cups full of compassion, and eat from plates packed with understanding.
Now God, we will take a moment to fall silent and ask that you hear those prayers which are too deep for words…
We thank You God for the chance to be with each other on this day. We thank You for Your continued presence in our lives and our hearts; we thank You for each and every day that You gift us with; and we thank You for all that we may take for granted.
Guide and protect us, care for and direct us, now and forever. Amen.