Prayer for the New Year

Length of days does not profit me except the days are passed
in Thy presence,
in Thy service,
to Thy glory.

Give me a grace that
precedes,
follows,
guides,
sustains,
sanctifies,
aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from Thee,
but may rely on Thy Spirit
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith;
and give me a desire
to show forth Thy praise,
testify Thy love,
advance Thy kingdom.

I launch my boat on the unknown waters of this year,
with Thee, O Father, as my harbour;
Thee, O Son, at my helm;
Thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.

Give me Thy grace to sanctify me,
Thy comforts to cheer,
Thy wisdom to teach,
Thy right hand to guide,
Thy presence to stabilize.

—from  The Valley of Vision

The Great Exchange

Christmas is the season of the great exchange. Greeting cards are exchanged, as are social invitations and visits. Gifts are exchanged around the Christmas tree on December 25—and at store counters on December 26. But none of that begins to approximate what is meant here by “the great exchange.” For in the depths of its meaning, Christmas is about the exchange of divinity and humanity, of eternity and temporality, of life and death.

The season’s familiarity and its immense popular appeal obscure the fact that Christmas is a mystery comparable to that of the Pasch and fully dependent on faith in the Paschal victory. The wonder of Christmas is not, as might be supposed, “How can a virgin bear a child?” The virginal conception of Jesus is not in itself the mystery but is rather one way of pointing to the mystery, of indicating that what occurred at Bethlehem is outside the bounds of both human experience and explanation. The marvel is that the creator of the cosmos comes as creature for the purpose of setting right all that has gone wrong on this tiny planet. The wonder is that the Eternal One who can be neither created nor destroyed willingly becomes subject to both birth and death.

—Laurence Hill Stookey,  Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 105

O Come, Let Us Adore Him! (2)

1 O du fröhliche, o du selige,
gnadenbringende Weihnachtszeit!
Welt ging verloren, Christ ist geboren:
Freue, freue dich, o Christenheit!

O du fröhliche, o du selige,
gnadenbringende Weihnachtszeit!
Christ ist erschienen, uns zu versühnen:
Freue, freue dich, o Christenheit!

1 O thou joyful,
O thou wonderful,
grace-revealing Christmastide!
Jesus came to win us
from all sin within us;
glorify the holy child!

2 O thou joyful,
O thou wonderful,
love-revealing Christmastide!
Loud hosannas singing,
and all praises bringing,
may Thy love with us abide!

1 ¡Oh santísimo,
felicísimo,
Gratio tiemp de Navidad!
A este mundo herido,
Cristo le ha nacido:
¡Alegría, alegría, cristiandad!

2 ¡Oh santísimo,
felicísimo,
Gratio tiemp de Navidad!
Coros celestiales
Oyen los mortales:
¡Alegría, alegría, cristiandad!

—Johannes Daniel Falk, Heinrich Holzschuher