A Prayer on the Eve

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth . . . From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  ( John 1: 14,16 NRSV)

My granddaughter Eve is old enough now that we could play with her name at Christmas. “It’s Christmas Eve, Eve” sounded pretty funny to both of us. Today is Inauguration Eve, the day before Joseph R. Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of our country. On Christmas Eve we anticipate what is coming and pray that we will experience God in new ways. Today I want to reflect on what is coming and offer a prayer that all of us will work together to share God’s love and fulfill Jesus’ prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

The Christmas narratives are different ways of telling us about who Jesus is. The text above from the Gospel of John gives us another glimpse into the meaning of Jesus’ life: the Word became flesh. Put together, the message is as simple as it is profound. God loved the world so much that God entered into the world in the person of Jesus. Jesus lived in the real, complicated, messy world just as we do. This is the incarnation, the embodiment of God’s love. Volumes have been written about the meaning of the incarnation. The heart of it for me is that God works in and through people, in and through the real world. When we say that we are the Body of Christ, we are saying that we are his hands and feet and voice in the world. God is working through us.

Tomorrow we will have a new president. I pray there will be a peaceful transfer of power. I pray for Mr. Biden, his family, and all those who will serve with him, whether appointed or elected. I pray that those who voted for him and those who did not will join together to work for the common good—for the healing of our nation in body and soul. I pray that the power of love and reconciliation will overcome hatred and the sins of racism, antisemitism, homophobia and all the evils that divide us.

But the words of my prayers are meaningless if I do nothing. To offer these prayers with a sincere heart I have to offer myself to God with the commitment that I will do all that I can to work toward the same goals. When I say that God works in and through people, I have to include myself. I have to work with others to be instruments of God’s love and reconciliation in a broken world. I have to commit to being a person who does my best (imperfect as it is) to love all God’s people with God’s love. To twist an oft-repeated phrase, be careful what you pray for.

Prayer Focus: Doing My Part

God Incarnate in Jesus the Christ, hear my prayer. Keep me from letting it become mere words; help me to make it a prayer of deeds. Show me what I can do and give me the strength to do it. Unite all who seek to be the body of Christ; make us instruments of your love and will. Amen.