A prayer for the fourth Sunday in Advent


We come to you today not wanting to inconvenience you.

Like Ahaz, we do not want to ask you for the wrong amount of anything,
The impossible to reach, the open-handed generosity you offer.

We believe we are polite. We believe we do not deserve much, your humble obedient servants.

But what we call respect or humility is, in all honesty, a lack of trust. A fear of betrayal. A history of watching you not do what we want.

And so we cry out desperately at times but expect the other shoe to drop. We ask everyone we know to pray but are resigned to falling three people or three thousand prayers short.

And we miss the hints that you are generous beyond belief, using a measure we cannot comprehend.

You make plans across ages; we want answers in moments.
You work relationships across generations; we want you to fix our happiness now.

Paul points to prophets and promises and a royal baby, and we see the unlikely girl who should have been ashamed.

We confess that we would have condemned you.
We confess that we often ignore you.
We confess that we seldom trust you in the outcomes and in the process.

We ask you, I ask you, to forgive us, to forgive me.
We ask you, I ask you, to help us trust the signs you give us, to ask for what you offer, to receive what you provide.
We ask you, I ask you, to help us remember you when we forget.

We want to be like Paul and Joseph, starting with misguided urgency, ending with confident calm, resting in the center of your inexplicable peace.

Through Christ our Lord,



Reflecting on Isaiah 7:10-16 and Romans 1:1-7

From “God. We Still Need You”: A Year of Pandemic Prayer and Practice from a Hospital Chaplain.