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I’m late getting to this…but a few people have asked me if I had a text for the invocation I delivered Christmas Eve at the 102nd annual Christmas Celebration in Forest Hills, New York.
Here it is. I adapted it from the “Blessing for a Christmas Tree” from the “Book of Blessings.”
Let us pray on this wondrous night that God’s blessings will be bestowed on all who gather here.
Ever-living God, we praise you and thank you.
We praise you and thank you for the gift of this community of Forest Hills—this place we call home.
As we celebrate this season of light…
We praise you and thank you for the light of creation: the sun, the moon and the stars of the night.
We praise you and thank you for the light of Israel: the Law, the prophets and the wisdom of the scriptures.
We praise you and thank you, above all, for the light of Jesus Christ your son: he is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace, who fills us with the wonder of your love.
The birth of your son brought new light to a dark world—and on this holy night, we seek to share that light with others.
Help us always to bring that light into the world. Inspire us, especially, to share it with our neighbors in need…the poor, the hungry, the outcast, the forgotten.
Tonight, we stand together—people of many backgrounds and beliefs, from many cultures and countries, who embrace the light and promise of that child in the manger.
But above all, we stand together.
May we continue to stand together beyond tonight, beyond this square, beyond this season—caring for one another as your son taught us, by loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Father of Light, Father of Hope, give us the grace to make every day another Christmas— a moment when Christ is born again and again in our lives, in our hearts, and in our world.
We ask all this through the one whose birth we acclaim tonight: Emmanuel, the prince of peace.
We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen!
Footnote: I was very pleased to be share the night with Thomas Jorge and his wife Olga. Tom is a member of my parish—and a candidate for the diaconate. I’m serving as his mentor in formation.
By the grace of God, he will be ordained in May of 2017. Next year, he can give the invocation!