Also I am finishing off a series on the Olivet discourse and preaching on the parable of the Sheep and the Goats. So I have wanted to include some of that into this prayer of thanksgiving.
As I sat down to write this prayer I looked out my office window and saw a group of people walking down the road in Santa hats all trimmed with tinsel... obviously there is a Office Christmas event happening down the road. It for me epitomised the way people rejoice this festive season. I also noticed (sadly for the first time) a Pohutukawa tree in the corner of the church car park all decked out in its crimson bloom. The Pohutukawa Tree is our native Christmas tree, it blossoms in our southern summer Christmas. It usually grows on the coast and in New Zealand Christmas usually revolves round summer holidays... in fact if I may make a really bad joke the closest most Kiwi's get to acknowledging the incarnation is when almost the whole nation jumps in our cars and heads off to the beach. That is if the weather doesn't pack it in. Those things remind me of the rejoicing in God's creation... Yes I am aware of a cyclone hitting Samoa at the moment and we will pray for those effected in our prayers of intercession. Nature by itself cannot tell us God is good.
Then of course we move into rejoicing because of Christ. His birth long promised, his kingdom proclaimed and what they means, his death and Resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit... and the joy that comes from seeing Jesus revolution of grace shared to the least in simple acts of kindness and mercy.
This prayer is my attempt at painting a word picture of all those things... not wanting to simply engage peoples logical mind but inviting them to envisage what those things mean in their own lives.. almost a guided meditation and in that to rejoice before God.