Rev. Debra Haffner is the president and CEO of the Religious Institute as well as the endorsed community minister for The Unitarian Church in Westport, Connecticut. On Christmas Eve, she offered this prayer in recognition of the many traditions, beliefs, and longings that come together in that community. We offer it to you with our best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.
Spirit of life and love, we know you by many names or perhaps no name at all—yet, together, we know this is a holy night.
We come from many different traditions or perhaps no tradition at all.
We have celebrated decades of Christmases or perhaps this is only our first or second time at a Christmas Eve service.
Yet, together we know, this is a holy night.
It is a holy night because we are here together, joined in our common humanity, listening to the words of the centuries-old stories and the familiar carols, recognizing that these are our stories too.
We have been the frightened young woman and the frightened young man whose lives are about to change forever through no intention of their own.
We have known what it is like to not fit in, to be excluded, to be told there is no room at the inn for us.
We too have been the shepherds who are stunned into silence by the awe of nature, fearful of what we are being asked to do next.
We are the wayfarers on a journey that has an ending we do not know.
But, we also know the promise of looking into the eyes of a newborn child.
We recognize the divine within that new life; Emmanuel, God is with us.
We have known the excitement and the adventure of a shared new journey.
We know that we cannot make it through this life alone:
We pray that we will too have visits from wise ones, angels who will tell us not to be afraid, and those who bring us light in our darkest days to show us the way.
We yearn for the promise of peace and everlasting love, and that the words of the carols may ring true:
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
In the bleak midwinter, in this world of pain, may our hearts be open, may love be born again.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
Joy to the world. Joy to the earth!
Peace on earth, good will to all.
Silent night, holy night, may all be calm, may all be bright.
We know together, it is indeed a holy night, and we are blessed to share it together.