THE WORK OF CHRISTMAS
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.
–– Howard Thurman”The Work of Christmas” in The Mood of Christmas & Other Celebrations (1985)
The creche is still in place, but the greens and poinsettias have been removed from the church, and the windows sills are empty and bare – except for the candles that shine in the darkness. Children and teachers are back in school, and life has returned to whatever “normal” may mean for each of us. Our nation is in the midst of the transition from one president to another. It is designed to be a ‘Peaceful Transition,” and in many ways it is. For some there is excitement and hope, but for others there is fear and uncertainty, more than most people remember in any other transition of government in this country.
Monday is the day set aside by our country to honor Martin Luther King, Jr, the great civil rights champion and martyr of the 20th century. Howard Thurman (November 18, 1899 – April 10, 1981), the author of the above captioned poem, was an influential African-American author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader. He was a Baptist minister, and mentor to many of the early civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Junior. His poem, “The Work of Christmas,” is a classic, and particularly appropriate for Martin Luther King Day, as well as this point in time in our own country.
Martin Luther King Day has been designated as a day of service. Across the country there will be opportunities for service of many kinds. Some folks from St Thomas will travel to Trinity Cathedral in Trenton — our cathedral – to help make greeting cards for shut-ins, put together ditty bags for Seamens Church Institute, and do other projects for service organizations across New Jersey and beyond. Others will be doing community service projects with Habitat for Humanity, Family Promise, and other organizations. Some will be helping neighbors with household chores, or a variety of other activities. Small or large, our presence and participation make a difference. This is, after all, the true work of Christmas.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Peace and blessing,