Monday of Christmas I – Prayer of the Week

O God, our Maker and Redeemer, You wonderfully created us and in the incarnation of Your Son yet more wondrously restored our human nature. Grant that we may ever be alive in Him who made Himself to be like us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

My first parish included an elderly couple, Herb and Ion. They had married during the Great Depression and lived through some tumultuous times together. Ion’s health was failing, but Herb, in his 80’s was spry and active. Herb had worked for the railroad, initially as a fireman on a massive steam locomotive which brought coal over a mountain pass. He had retired from operating locomotives for the world’s largest open pit copper mine. It was in some respects a life lived large.

Herb also broke most of the stereotypes of what you might imagine for a railroad engineer. He eagerly welcomed me into their home shortly after I arrived, for he had seen that I had studied classical languages. He had just finished reading Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” and wanted to talk about it. He turned out to be the very best lector I have ever had, reading eloquently. He was clearly reading a Bible which was familiar to him, and which spoke to him. What everyone knew of Herb and Ion was that they were simply delightful people who were wise, kind, and loving. This was true when they found it easy to be like that and when it was hard.

We pray in this prayer that we may ever be alive in Christ who made himself to be like us. When I pray this prayer, I think of Herb and Ion, faithfully married, full of humor and compassion even when their own bodies were failing them. You probably know someone like this, whose life has given you a picture of Jesus. They were not perfect people, but they were perfectly forgiven, and they believed it. Both Herb and Ion have passed away, but they are not dead. The Christ who became like them has also made them like Himself. He has risen from death, lives, and reigns to all eternity. They are alive in Him.

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