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Sunday Stretch: Vol. 61 - Christmas Eve

A Special Christmas Eve video message, including a message from Bethlehem Pastor and theologian Mitri Raheb

Hi Readers,

Merry Christmas Eve! Please view a special Christmas Eve video message above.

Part of my message includes a story from the Rev. Mitri Raheb of Bethlehem, in a story from Christmas Eve 1987 in his book, I am a Palestinian Christian.

I found Pastor Raheb’s message to be exactly what I needed in this Christmas in the midst of war and tragic death in the Holy Land.

A pastor friend of mine, the Rev. Meta Herrick Carlson recently traveled to Bethlehem. She is putting together funds to support churches in the Holy Land. If you would like to support their ministry and provide aid to suffering families, many of whom rely on ordinary Christmas tourism to Bethlehem that won’t be happening this year, you can send a donation to her Venmo at @MetaHerrickCarlson or PayPal at @MetaCarlson. Here is a link to her post on Instagram that shares more information.

I’m so grateful for our community here. Merry Christmas!

In Jesus’ love,



An Invitation

A Community that prays for one another is transformed by the power of the Spirit. We’ve been praying for and with each other now for over a year! For the new year, and about once a quarter, I will re-start this space for prayer requests and praises. Please email with your own requests and I will share here with your permission!

Today is the last Sunday of Advent, so we started anew three weeks ago with our prayer requests. Please send me a message or reply to this email to share a particular request for me to add to the list!

  1. For all churches, church leaders, and volunteers who are preparing worship services this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. May they be safe and filled with the Holy Spirit.

  2. For all those impacted by severe weather and tornadoes in Tennessee and on the East Coast last week

  3. For all those who lost loved ones and experienced trauma during the shooting at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas earlier this month

  4. For peace and justice and hope in the Holy Land: for the return of hostages safely to their homes and families; for sufficient aid in Gaza and repair and rebuilding to begin; for an end to bloodshed and devastation and a willingness for new leadership in Gaza to support peaceful coexistence with Israel and work with leadership in the West Bank toward a potential two-state solution in the Holy Land. For an end to gratuitous violence and glorification of violence and death.

  5. For Christians to be emboldened to speak out courageously against anti-semitism and to acknowledge how we have been complicit in anti-semitic actions and speech against our Jewish siblings

  6. That we might find opportunities to stand in the breach and advocate for those in our midst who are most vulnerable

  7. To find ways to end the unsustainable state of occupation of Palestinian territories and find partnership among Israeli and Palestinian people to work toward mutual thriving and safety for civilians

  8. For people in Ukraine who have lost loved ones in Russia’s war of aggression, and for all those in Russia and Ukraine who’ve been drawn into violence and military service. For all who have lost their homes and lost loved ones and suffered injuries. For a way forward that includes an end to war and suffering.

  9. For families who have been forcibly exiled from Pakistan and returned to Afghanistan without shelter or a way to support themselves, and who are facing starvation and suffering.

  10. For all places around the world that suffered natural disasters in the past year, that they might be given resources to rebuild and restore what they’ve lost

  11. For governments and leaders to prioritize climate change solutions and not be only ruled by profit or big business

  12. For kids, parents and teachers who are trying to create safe and nurturing spaces and schools for learning and growth, even in this time between breaks from school

  13. For all those who are traveling, working, or away from loved ones in this season. For all those who are grieving and who are preparing for their first Christmas season without a loved one.

  14. For churches, pastors, ministers, and church leaders who are preparing for the Advent season. Give them willing and able helpers and colleagues, as well as time to rest and be attentive to their own spiritual practices in this season.

  15. For all who are sick and suffering; for all who are vulnerable especially to infectious diseases and respiratory illnesses.

  16. For all who are unemployed or underemployed, for those who are suffering with debt and unpaid bills, who are worried about their ability to afford shelter and heat and food.

  17. For all those who struggle with addiction, and who find themselves lonely and lost in this season due to long struggles with addiction and/or mental health challenges. Help them find support and access to 12-step meetings if they are able to attend those.

  18. For all the concerns deep on our hearts, that you hear and know and acknowledge, we pray …

Dear God, we thank you for being Immanuel, God with us. Bless us this Advent season, and help us to fully experience your Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.



P.S. …

A Few Notes:

First, a huge THANK YOU to all subscribers. I get a little email notification every time someone signs up, and every time I get one, I feel joyful and honored that you want to spend part of your day with this community. I mean it when I say: “I’m listening,” to you as well, and please don’t hesitate to share with me your thoughts + ideas for what you’d like to read in this space.

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On free vs. paid-subscriber posts only: My plan right now is that the Friday + Sunday posts, focusing on news + spirituality, in that order, are available for subscribers only (I am going to continue sharing a sample, with a line where the paywall cuts off for our paid subscriber community). My plan is that the Tuesday blog-style posts will always be free, to enable as much access as possible, while creating a smaller and more intimate experience for paid subscribers, who are also able to comment and share in community in fuller ways.

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