A prayer for the fourth Sunday of Advent

Advent art

(Re-posted from last year.)

Lord, it’s the fourth Sunday of Advent, as I think you know, you who created the universe and everything in it, including me and all the stuff I like to think of as belonging to me.

Anyway, today is the fourth Sunday of Advent, as I mentioned, and I’m sitting here in the early morning darkness, with the house still, my cup of coffee nearby, made from freshly-ground beans, just the way I like it, and the dog is waiting patiently for our daily walk around the block. (I like this time of day – once again, as you know.)

And I’m thinking about what this day means – for me, for you, and for the world you made.  Such big thoughts for so early in the morning, I know.

So much of what I hear from friends at this point in the season is whether or not they’re in the mood, whether or not they’ve captured the spirit, or whatever they think they’re supposed to be feeling right about now. And I confess that I’ve done quite a bit to get myself into the mood.  I put up the tree, for example, and decorated it, while listening to lovely Christmas music.  That was nice.  And last week I went to the big Christmas concert in town, featuring candlelight and over 200 singers and musicians, you know the one.  I hope you liked it, too.

And I came away that night thinking, “Hey, I’m really in the mood now!  And look!  There’s even snow on the ground!”

But this morning, before anyone else is up, before I’m fully awake, I realize that this season doesn’t depend on me.  Whether I’m in the mood or not.  Whether I’ve got the spirit or not.  And I’m thinking that might actually be good news.

Because whatever I’m feeling – or not feeling – you looked with love on the world you made, and you became one of us.  And not just a better version of us, but the version of us we could never be.  You came to us as a baby, born to a mom and dad.  You lived our lives as we must try to live them, with laughter and friends, as well as betrayal and loss.  You did all that.  And much more besides.

So, to wrap this up, because I know others (not as industrious as I am) are beginning to wake up and offer their morning prayers too, I’m trying my best to remember that none of this depends on me.  None of it whatsoever. My joy this season is what you did for me.  And for the whole world.  And for that I’m more grateful than I can possibly say.  Amen.

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

7 Responses to A prayer for the fourth Sunday of Advent

  1. Susan December 21, 2014 at 2:06 am #

    Well said. Thanks!

  2. Bettina December 21, 2014 at 2:39 pm #


  3. Steve Stimpson December 21, 2014 at 9:27 pm #


  4. Doug December 22, 2014 at 12:41 am #


  5. Mike H December 23, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

    Hello Doug – This post is influential as they always are, in some way.
    The influence of your post dated Dec 4, 2012, “The Color Purple”, is the reason I’ll be wearing a purple shirt under my sport coat at the 10 PM candlelight service Christmas Eve. Thanks for always finding some glue to help us stick tighter to our faith. Merry Christmas.

    • Doug December 24, 2014 at 6:38 am #

      Thanks, Mike. And I’m wishing you and your family a merry Christmas too. Or, as we say here, merry Christmas!

  6. karen parkinson December 31, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

    Thank you for your blogs. I like to read the comments that come from members of the church I attend. I am sorry to say I am finally reading the one from the 4th Sunday of Advent. It has been a family filled time these last few days. I thought of you Christmas Eve at First Pres Wheaton when I was with Kristin and her family as we lit the Advent wreath. None of the Pastors knew her. I had to mention to them that she was married in this church 20 years ago. Parker, her son of 16 lit the candle as she read scripture and John prayed. Carley her 12 year old daughter and I stood proud. Many memories of you.
    Karen Parkinson