Recently I was asked to give the invocation at a public gathering for a Christmas event. I had time to reflect on what I might say for this Christmas prayer. As I considered the words and thoughts most commonly expressed in public prayers, I began to realize that our public prayers are often uttered so as to offend no one in the gathering.
When the first wave of Jewish exiles returned to Judea, they were enthusiastic about rebuilding the Temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians nearly fifty years earlier. But when their efforts to start rebuilding the Temple were opposed and resisted by neighboring nations and internally by the current inhabitants of the land, the repatriated Jews became discouraged and the Temple continued to lie in ruins for almost twenty more years.