There is an empty chair near the tree,
an ache in our hearts
and tears on our faces.
We may try to shield one another
from the grief we bear
but we cannot hide it from you.
We pray for (names)
whose presence we miss so much
in these days of peace and joy.
Open our hearts and minds
to the healing, the warmth,
the light of your presence.
We pray, Lord, and we trust
that those we miss
have found the place you prepared for them,
their home within your heart.
Open our hearts, Lord,
to joyful memories of love shared
with those who have gone before us.
Help us tell the stories
that make the past present
and bring us close again
to those we miss.
Teach us to lean on you, Lord,
and on each other,
for the strength we need
to walk through these difficult days.
Be with us as we cry and sing our our way
through Christmas cards and carols;
help us find and open the present you bring:
the gift of your peace
in the birth of the child we call Christ.
And give us quiet moments
with you, with our thoughts,
with our memories and prayers.
Be with us, Lord,
and hold us in your arms
even as you hold those
who have gone before us.
Help us to trust that one day
we shall be with those we love
when your mercy gathers us together
in the joy of the life you promise us.
This is the Christmas you have made, Lord,
the only one we'll have this year:
help us to rejoice in it
and in the blessings of your peace.
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