Lord, teach us how to pray, and help us to pray now.
At this time of year we gather together for warmth.
We pray for the warmth of your presence. Some of us may sense you very close now, and others may sense nothing, but we trust that you are within us, and your love is what sustains the universe. We long for what happens when you live within us: for the ability to forgive, for healed relationships, for courage and new openness to those out in the cold.
We are here to thank you for bringing the warmth of heaven to our world in the form of a baby, who lived as a child and a teenager, and grew into the kind of adult who sat around the fire with the social rejects, inviting them in from the cold. He sat and listened to the people most of us would fear or scorn. One day he stood next to a woman being shamed and saw off her accusers, confronting violence with peaceful resistance. Another day he took the time to ask a disabled man what miracle he wanted, not assuming he already knew the answer. May we grow into such people!
We acknowledge that the physical warmth in this building right now is provided by burning fossil fuels, and we thank you for the incredible gift that these fuels have been to us, providing such warmth and freedom to so many of us. And as we finally start to admit that we have overdosed on this gift many times over, we pray for your help to break the addiction. We pray for the courage, and the global unity we will need.
We pray for those of us who are left out in the cold: for people without a decent, safe home here in our town, for people escaping to our country from wars or oppression. We ask that we would live up to our duty to protect each other. We pray for the people in Israel and Palestine who are wondering where the next bomb will land, the people who are held hostage, the 1.8 million people who have had to grab what they can and run away from their homes as winter sets in. We ask that we the human race would step up to the challenge of working out a peace. We pray for leaders who are prepared to look their enemies in the eye and find a way to follow your command to love them.
Lord, warm our hearts. Who do we need to forgive? Who are we leaving out in the cold? Which social rejects do we have the chance to get to know and learn from? What violence are we witnessing that we must resist, with courage given to us by you?
Lord, warm our hearts.