The Work of Christmas

I will light candles this Christmas,
Candles of joy despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all year long.
—Howard Thurman

The Season of Christmas is twelve days long—lasting December 25 to January 5. The Day of Epiphany (celebrating the arrival of the magi) is January 6. How are we to celebrate these holy days? A Baptist pastor, Howard Thurman, pondered just such a question. He led a delegation of African-Americans to India in 1935 to meet Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi’s influence led Thurman to understand Jesus as liberator and bring together the gospel and non-violence resistance to combat white racism. This is what Thurman wrote concerning what we are do and be about after the Season of Christmas. It is our core ministry as a church.

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 others,
To make music in the heart.

How will we make music in the heart of our world when the work of Christmas actually begins? When the gifts are unwrapped, Christmas dinner is over and the company has gone home, how will we keep the candles burning? When the needles have fallen from the tree, how will we continue to offer the olive branch? When prisoners are released, how will we reach out and care?

I don’t have exact answers to the above questions. I am, however, grateful to be journeying with you as we explore the work of Christmas at The Palms.

Shalom, Paul