Wrap Your Gift in Prayer – 4

“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans — and all that lives and moves upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused — and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.” – Singrid Undset

The Parish Advent Program is a way to help us pray and unwrap God’s peace in the midst of our busyness. During this Advent season, as we prepare to give gifts, we experience stress and fatigue, which may lead to
grumpiness. This year can be different.

Our Christmas practice of gift giving is intended to be a visible symbol of love and Christian service in action. Why not use our gift giving and gift receiving as a form of prayer? Wrapping your Gift in Prayer can add a spiritual dimension to an ordinary task.

Wrap Your Gift in Prayer

As you choose your gift, ask for God’s guidance and bring a prayerful awareness to the exchange. When you actually wrap your gift, whether in wrapping paper or in a gift bag, pray for the recipient. Ask God to fill him or her with light, love and the peace of Christ. Cards and electronic greetings may also be wrapped in prayer.

How to Wrap Your Gift in Prayer

(Choose your Method or Methods)

  • Imagine – visualize the person for whom you pray. Picture the Lord blessing them and being near them.
  • Speak – pray out loud:
    “Lord surround (name) with your light, fill _______ with your peace, make _____ a channel of your love.”
  • Sing – our Advent Hymn or a Christmas carol.
  • Gesture – use the hand motion of wrapping, boxing, stuffing, etc., as your prayer asking God to bless the recipient through your movement and work.
  • Hear – simply repeat the person’s name knowing that the Lord hears our every prayer.
  • Recite – a pre-written prayer, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Rosary…

Sharing your Prayer with a Gift Tag

After wrapping your gift in prayer attach the gift tag provided for you. Witnessing to your prayer by means of a Gift Tag is like giving an additional gift because it may lead the receiver to become more aware of God’s presence in her or his own life.

Gift Prayer Tags are available at the doors of the church. Attach the Gift Prayer Tag to a gift, group of gifts or gift bag. You may also duplicate the gift tag sheets on your own computer by visiting our website www.stphilip.org. (Gift PrayerTags).

Advent Hymn

Emmanuel is a Hebrew word that means: God is With Us

Our Advent practice of wrapping our gifts in prayer may lead us into a deeper experience of how very near the Lord is to us in every moment.

A new verse has been composed for the Hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and will be sung as part of the processional at the Eucharist during the Advent season.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
Deep within, as gift,
your Spirit dwells.
With Advent’s dawning light, draw us near.
Teach us to love as peacemakers here.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
May This Our Gift Of Prayer, Your Glory Tell.

You are invited to use these words and familiar tune as part of your prayer and reflection.

Christmas Reflection : We Are Gift To Each Other

One afternoon, a little girl came home from school and told her mother all about her classmates’ parts in the Christmas pageant. She described bearded shepherds, glittering winged angels, a parade of nobly robed kings and a myriad of elaborately costumed animals. The girl made no mention of her part and so her mother asked cautiously what role she would be playing. Rather sadly the girl muttered, “Oh, I only walk on stage carrying the big star.” The mother’s heart sank but she thought quickly and responded in bright tones, “The star, the star, you’ll be the star. You will SHINE, and nobody, nobody shines like you!” Suddenly joyful, the girl whirled around the house like a little comet.

On the night of the pageant the girl’s smile shone more brightl y than the star she carried. The girl’s mother, with the gift of few words, changed the girl’s entire experience of not only the Christmas pageant but of her role and ultimately of her self – image. The gift of the power and grace of a few words from a loved one can make all of the difference in life.

The greatest gift of God to us is Christ Jesus, who is the very Word of God and the one who makes all the difference. Jesus teaches and empowers us to love by God’s indwelling presence and through prayer, Scripture and Sacrament. We are invited by God to use our words and actions as gifts for others. God desires for us to encourage the people placed in our lives. As we gather to celebrate with our family and friends this Christmas, we are challenged to be bearers of the gifts of joy, peace, hope and affirmation and love.

This Christmas and every day we are invited to consciously wrap each other in love as a gift from God to each other.

“What you are is God’s gift to you;
what you become is your gift to God.”

– Hans Uhrs von Balthasar

Reflection Questions

  1. Who encourages you to shine? Thank God for those people.
  2. How might you express your gratitude for those who give you affirmation, hope, joy and love?
  3. Who needs your gift of love?
  4. What one thing can you do to be a gift for others this Christmas?