Now the Work of Christmas Begins

December 28, 2017

Now the Work of Christmas Begins

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 flocks,
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 the people,
to make music in the heart.

– Howard Thurman


December 25. It’s a lot of build up to one day.

But when we read the origin story, the birth of Jesus, we see that the story continues beyond that one day. The visit by the shepherds, the gifts from the Magi and the escape to Egypt happen after the birth.

Perhaps my favorite part of the story comes when Mary and Joseph take the week-old baby Jesus to the temple for dedication (Luke 2:21-22). At the temple they meet Anna and Simeon, who recognize Jesus as the savior they have been waiting for. The story suggests they had been waiting a very long time. When he holds the baby Jesus in his arms, Simeon essentially says, “I can now die happy.”

Now that our waiting for Advent is over and Christmas has come, our real work begins, the real work we have been longing for: restoration and reconciliation.

Howard Thurman was an African American poet, a preacher, a civil rights leader and a theologian of liberation. His writings helped Christian activists draw strength from the gospel story. It is true that the work of Christmas for people of faith has just begun, but really it never ended. We begin again each day with renewed strength to work towards an end of suffering and ensure the work of reconciliation. So stay calm and carry on—it’s still Christmas!

– The Reverend Erika Funk