Prayer For 1st Sunday In Advent

God of majesty and power
Who spoke and this world was
Who breathed and this world lived
Who counts the hairs upon our head
Who sees our thoughts and reads our hearts
Who loves us more than we deserve
How can we not bring today
Our sacrifice of praise?
For in the child at Bethlehem
Lies the promise of intimacy
With a Saviour who would die even for me
And the promise of an eternity
In which to praise you more each day
God of promise we praise your name, Amen

Advent God,
we journey with you,
to Bethlehem's stable
and a new-born King,
ears attuned
to the song of angels,
eyes alert
for Bethlehem's star.
Forgive us
if on our journey
if we are distracted
by the tempting offers
of this world.
Keep our hearts aflame
with the hope
of Christmas,
and the promise
of a Saviour. Amen

God of hope, who brought love into this world,
be the love that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought peace into this world,
be the peace that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought joy into this world,
be the joy that dwells between us.
God of hope, the rock we stand upon,
be the centre, the focus of our lives
always, and particularly this Advent time.

The Advent story
of hope and mystery,
a kingdom
of this world and the next,
and a king
appearing when we least expect.
Heaven touching earth,
the footsteps of the divine
walking dusty roads
as once they did in Eden,
and a people,
searching for a Saviour,
and walking past
the stable.
Open eyes and hearts,
that this might be
an Advent of hope to the world.

In this Advent of expectation
draw us together in unity,
that our praise and worship
might echo in these walls
and also through our lives.
In this Advent of expectation
draw us together in mission,
that the hope within
might be the song we sing,
and the melody of our lives.
In this Advent of expectation
draw us together in service,
that the path we follow
might lead us from a stable
to a glimpse of eternity.

Heavenly Father, we come before you today challenged by this picture of radical grace; and the timing couldn't be better, as we enter the Christmas season. This one story alone underscores why we can never emphasize your grace too much. Grace is never to be counterbalanced with law, only multiplied with more grace. Indeed, through Jesus you continue to give us grace upon grace (John 1:16).

What an amazing storythe severely afflicted and extremely poor Christians of Macedonia became a model of radical generosity to the much wealthier believers in Corinth. They had so much joy, they gave sacrificiallybeyond their means for the benefit of strangers. Not from guilt, not to get more for themselves, not to impress you or others; rather, they gave freely and joyfullythe quintessential model of cheerful giving (2 Cor. 9:7).

For the glory of Jesus and the advancing of your kingdom, we ask you to give us the same grace you gave the churches of Macedonia. The needs all around us are exponential, but your resources are endless. Indeed, help us to excel in the grace of giving. For you are able to make all grace abound to [us], so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, [we] can abound in every good work (2 Cor. 9:8). Enrich us in every way that we might be generous in every way (2 Cor. 9:11)with our time, talents, and treasures, and with great forbearance and extravagant forgiveness.

Lord Jesus, you are the ultimate cheerful giver. That is what the gospel is all aboutthis is what this season of Advent is all about. Though you were rich, you gladly became poor for us, that by your poverty we might become joyfully rich through you (2 Cor. 8:9). We give ourselves to you, for you have given yourself for us and to us. Make your gladness ours. Make your generosity ours. So very Amen we pray, in your great and gracious name.

Dear heavenly Father, the season Advent is upon us, the cherished season when we remember and celebrate the coming of Jesusthe promised Messiah and deliverer, your beloved Sonour gracious Savior. Grant that it will prove to be much more than Advent-as-usual.

Surprise us, Father. Let us engage with the story of Jesus' birth as though for the very first time. Rescue us from the sentimental and predictable. Let the story so impact us that we ourselves will lift up our voices and be freed from all fear. Bring familiar Scriptures alive in fresh ways. Reshape how we do Christmas this year by the power of the gospel.

Already this morning I've been arrested with Isaiah's picture of your Advent arms. The promise of the Messiah carries with it the promise of the one embrace we all need. In Jesus, you come near to us as the sovereign Lord, with your sleeves rolled up as the great ruler. Your arm rules over all history, all nations, all kings, all circumstances. Nothing can alter, subvert, or change the story you are telling through Jesus. Nothing can divert or delay the kingdom you are advancing through Jesus. You are God, and there is no other.

But in Jesus, you also come near to us as the most compassionate Shepherd, gathering and carrying your lambs in your arms. The image and hope are staggering. To be tended as vulnerable, dependent sheep, to be held close to your heart, to be gently ledwhat more could we possibly desire? And to realize that our Shepherd is none other than the Lamb of Godthe One who has come to take away the sin of the worldincluding my sin. Hallelujah, many times over!

These aren't mere metaphors, Father. Metaphors cannot save us, only inspire us. You really are this kind of God and you really are this kind. The coming of Jesus puts all nations on notice: there is only one true King and he is here. And the coming of Jesus puts all your people face down in adoring love, for Jesus is a most wonderful, merciful Savior, Immanuelthe God who is with us and the God who is for us. So very Amen I pray, with Advent wonder, in Jesus' matchless name.

Dear Heavenly Father, it's the first Sunday in Advent, a season of anticipation and celebrationa time to reflect on every good thing you've already done for us in Jesus, and the glorious things yet to be realized.

You've made promises you alone can keep; you give peace that can be found nowhere else; you've pledged a hope you alone can fulfill. We praise you; we bless you; we worship you. As Advent progresses, fill us to overflowing with gratitude, humility and joy.

Father, grant us intense longingslike the ones that filled the heart of the prophets. The promise of grace and the Spirit of Christ thrilled them, as they anticipated the era of the Messiahthe time when you would begin to make all things new through Jesus.

And grant us joy-filled intrigue, like that felt by the angels. Your heavenly servants were overwhelmed as they pondered your unfolding story of redemption and restoration, for men and creation. We are the people the prophets were speaking about. We are the people angels envied. Hallelujah, many times over!

Lord Jesus, multiplied glories have already come to us, and many, many more will follow, all because of the sufferings you offered on our behalfonce and for all. Indeed, every promise God has made finds its Yes! in you. May this entire Advent season bring us back to your manger, back to your cross, back to your empty tomb; and moving forward with you into your new creation story.

Long expected Jesus, you have come and you are coming again. You are the desire of every nation; you are the joy of every longing heart. By your all sufficient merit, you have raised us and you will raise us yet. So very Amen we pray, with gratitude and anticipation, in your loving and triumphant name.