An Advent Prayer reflecting on themes in Isaiah 61
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, for you deliver your people from their bondage. You set the Hebrews free from Pharaoh’s hand, led them through the Red Sea and established your covenant with them through your servant Moses. When your people were taken into exile, you overthrew the kings of Babylon and brought the captives home, just as your prophets had promised. In the fullness of time, you sent your son Jesus to deliver your people from their bondage to sin and death. You poured out your Holy Spirit to establish your church, so that all men and women everywhere might come into a life-giving relationship with your only begotten son.
As we wait for his appearing in final victory, we pray that you would deliver your oppressed church throughout the world. Save it from those who seek to harm it or destroy it. Deliver it from the schisms and heresies that threaten it to overcome it. Overthrow the sin and selfishness that too often characterize our life as Christians. Guide those who lead the church with your Holy Spirit and empower its members with the gifts they will need for the mission you have given us.
We also pray for the world still in bondage to sin and decay. We see the power of sin and despair at work every day as we watch the news, but we also know that suffering and hopelessness invade corners of the world that the cameras never see.
Give good news to the poor. Bind up the brokenhearted. Comfort those who mourn. Give hope to those who despair. Bring peace especially to our communities still divided by race and class and politics. Let our cities, towns and villages all be places of joy and beauty, so that all might give praise to you.
Draw all the people of the world to know you, to put their faith in your Son Jesus Christ and to love and serve you in the power of the Holy Spirit, for it is in Christ’s name that we pray. Amen.