Dear Heavenly Father, the season Advent is upon us, the cherished season when we uniquely remember and celebrate the coming of Jesus—the promised Messiah and deliverer, your beloved Son. 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.

The promise of the Messiah carries with it the promise of the one embrace we all need. 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.

The image and hope of Advent is staggering. Thank you Lord Jesus for this image of compassionate Shepherd, gathering and carrying your lambs in your arms. To be tended as vulnerable, dependent sheep, to be held close to your heart, to be gently led—what more could we possibly desire? And to realize that our Shepherd is none other than the Lamb of God—the One who has come to take away the sin of the world—including my sin. 

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: we anticipate…. the one true King…….And the coming of Jesus puts all your people face down in adoring love, for Jesus is a most wonderful, merciful Saviour, Immanuel—the God who is with us and the God who is for us. So I pray, with Advent wonder, in Jesus’ matchless name. Hear our prayers, Amen!