Prayer on Christmas Day for those far from home

As we offer prayers of the people of this place, we pray in solidarity with the peoples of the world.

We gather on this holy day, whanau and friends, family of blood and of choice, to celebrate the birth of a special child in whom, as Christians, we believe GodSpirit was especially present—as GodSpirit can be in us.

Some of us have come from afar, with our gifts, our wisdom, our presence. Some have come from the nearby fields, a brief break from the busyness of our lives.

As we celebrate the birth of a refugee child, of dubious parentage, in strange circumstances, we pray for all the world and its peoples.

We hold in our hearts all those who are away from home, but not from choice, tonight: women and children who've fled to Refuge; men in prison, far from whanau and friends, hoping for loved ones to visit - or dreading it; people who still can't get into their homes following earthquakes; refugees streaming from cities such as Aleppo, carrying their world with them; hoping for at best, a welcome - at least, a dry place to sleep and an end to war and destruction and persecution.

We think of emergency, medical and law enforcement personnel, the firefighters and funeral directors on call or working this weekend and throughout the holiday season; dealing with fatal motor accidents, suicides, and alcohol-induced violence. May the joy and hope of Christmas touch hearts and minds grown cynical from dealing with human folly and failure.

We think of Christians around the world, gathering to acknowledge the birth of a baby, a child of peace, in a world that still knows little peace; as many who claim to follow the way of Jesus instead pursue a path of exclusion and wall-building.

May the love and joy of Christmas touch hearts and minds of all who seek the Light, whatever their faith or creed. May we open the doors of our hearts and lives and communities to welcome the strangers or the angels, to welcome questions and uncertainty, to be catalysts for discovery.

May we open our hearts and our hands to act for a just and peaceful world, a world safe for a new born baby, prepared for the rebirth of hope. So may it be.

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All photographs © bronwyn angela white (2015)—Kapiti, New Zealand