Christmas Eve Prayer

Christmastide (also Christmas Time or the Christmas season), also known as Twelvetide, is a season of the liturgical year in mostChristian churches.

For most Christian denominations, such as the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church, Christmastide begins on Christmas Eve at sunset or First Vespers, which is liturgically the beginning of Christmas Day. Most of Christmas Eve, understood as 24 December, is thus part not of Christmastide, but of Advent, the season in the Church Year that precedes Christmastide; in many liturgical kalendars, Christmastide is followed by the closely related season of Epiphanytide.

The precise ending of Christmastide is defined differently by different Christian denominations. In the Anglican Church and Lutheran Church, Christmastide, commonly called the Twelve Days of Christmas, lasts 12 days, from 25 December to 5 January, the latter date being named as Twelfth Night. For the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, Christmastide is now, since its 1969 revision, a few days longer: "Christmas Time runs from ... up to and including the Sunday after Epiphany or after 6 January." Before 1955, the 12 Christmastide days in the Roman Rite (25 December to 5 January) were followed by the 8 days of the Octave of Epiphany, 6–13 January, and its 1960 Code of Rubrics defined "Christmastide" as running "from I vespers of Christmas to none of 5th January inclusive".

History

In 567, the Council of Tours "proclaimed the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany as a sacred and festive season, and established the duty of Advent fasting in preparation for the feast." Christopher Hill, as well as William J. Federer, states that this was done in order to solve the "administrative problem for the Roman Empire as it tried to coordinate the solar Julian calendar with the lunar calendars of its provinces in the east."[18][19][20] Ronald Hutton adds that, while the Council of Tours declared the 12 days one festal cycle, it confirmed that three of those days were fasting days, dividing the rejoicing days into two blocs. The Council held at Tours also spoke of a three-day fast at the beginning of January as an ancient custom, and ordered monks to observe it.[22][23] In that canon, which dealt with the fasts to be observed by monks, the council decreed:

De ieiuniis ... In Augusto, quia quotidie missae sanctorum sunt, prandium habeant. ... De Decembri usque ad natale Domini, omni die ieiunent. Et quia inter natale Domini et epiphania omni die festivitates sunt, itemque prandebunt. Excipitur triduum illud, quo ad calcandam gentilium consuetudinem, patres nostri statuerunt privatas in Kalendis Ianuarii fieri litanias.

(On fasting ... In August, because each day there are Masses of the saints, let them have a full meal. ... In December until Christmas, they are to fast each day. Since between the Nativity of the Lord and Epiphany there are feasts on each day, they shall have a full meal, except during the three-day period on which our Fathers established private litanies for the beginning of January, in order to tread down the custom of the Gentiles.)

In medieval era Christendom, Christmastide "lasted from the Nativity to the Purification." To this day, the "Christian cultures in Western Europe and Latin America extend the season to forty days, ending on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the Purification of Mary on 2 February, a feast also known as Candlemas because of the blessing of candles on this day, inspired by theSong of Simeon, which proclaims Jesus as 'a light for revelation to the nations'."Many Churches refer to the period after the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas and upto Candlemas, as Epiphanytide, also called the Epiphany season.

The Prayer

Give us, O God, the vision which can see Your love in the world in spite of human failure.
Give us the faith to trust Your goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness.
Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts.
And show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of universal peace.

"May the forgiving spirit of Him to whom we dedicate this season prevail again on earth.
May hunger disappear and terrorists cease their senseless acts.
May people live in freedom, worshiping as they see fit, loving others.
May the sanctity of the home be ever preserved.
May peace, everlasting peace, reign supreme."

Loving God, Help us remember the birth of Jesus, 
that we may share in the song of the angels, 
the gladness of the shepherds, 
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world. 
Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. 
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, 
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake. Amen.

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