When there's an empty chair by the tree...

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Here's a piece I post every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas - and I'll post it again before December 25.  Please feel to share with any who might find it helpful!

This Christmas, Lord,
there’ll be an empty chair by the tree,
an ache in our hearts and tears on our cheeks...

We might try and even succeed
in shielding our grief from others
- but we cannot hide from you...

So, we pray for (name your loved ones) 
whose loving presence we'll miss
at this homecoming time...

Help us remember and tell again
the stories of all we shared
with the ones we miss so much...

Open our hearts to joyful memories
of the times and love we knew
with those who've gone before us...

And with your gentle touch, Lord,
smooth and mend any ragged, broken edges
still in need of your merciful healing...

May the bonds you forged grow stronger
in our remembering those
who've now gone home to you…

Help us trust in faith that those we miss so much
have a place in your heart
and a seat at your table in heaven...

Deepen and strengthen our hope
that one day we'll see them once again
and enjoy their company and love...

Teach us, Lord, to lean on those around us
for the help and support we need
when our spirits flag and fail us…

Open our hearts and souls, Lord,
to the warmth of your presence,
within us and among us...

Be with us to console us and,
just as you embrace the ones we miss,
hold us, too, along with them,
in your everlasting arms...

Give us moments of quiet prayer:
time to share with you
our memories and our losses,
our thoughts and our tears...

Even in our grief, Lord, help us remember
that this is the day that you have made:
help us rejoice in the peace you've promised us,
the peace we pray you share even now
with those who've gone before us...

We pray then, Lord, for all who know
the burdens this day brings:
we trust you'll hear and answer us
who give you thanks and praise...



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