The Work of Christmas – By Howard Thurman
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the 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 brothers,
To make music in the heart.
All life is sacred. The lives of all our siblings are full of dignity and worthy of honor and respect. The work of Christmas includes affirming and upholding these principles. In celebrating the humble birth of a unique Jewish boy in Bethlehem whose life was about transformation of the margins to the center of God’s gaze, we participate in the re-seeding of the world.
On Christmas a little more than two decades ago, friends in Oakland had welcomed into the world a new son, who was born that day. They asked me to go to their house to make the Cornish game hens that they had planned to eat. I dutifully followed the Sunset magazine recipe and voila, they were ready and I brought them to the hospital with Donna and we enjoyed them – and their grandma’s homemade lasagna – in the room with the new family.
New life is all about presence and possibility, hope and joy. It is revelatory of the human thread that connects us all. As we end 2020, a year of tremendous health and economic disruption, we rejoice that new life is on the horizon. We also give thanks for truths spoken and acted upon that give the lie to efforts – direct and indirect – that put many lives, particularly Black, brown and Native American, at risk. From the holding up of economic stimulus and unemployment insurance – and the exclusion of many – to authorities looking the other way when white supremacists threaten protestors’ lives, to the lack of PPE and testing and the failure to protect workers in the fields, generating equitable outcomes as a matter of justice must be labored toward every day. This season can serve to remind us that time is not about money, but about the cultivation of life, and life in abundance, for all.
We are grateful that the eviction moratorium in the State of Washington will be extended to March 31, 2021. The losses of lives and livelihoods make it far from a given that many thousands in our state will have a place to call home, let alone a roof over their head. In one of the wealthiest states in the wealthiest country in the world, it is scandalous that so many are fearful where they will sleep from one week to the next. Faithful living out of the work of Christmas requires a shift toward the priority of relationships with our neighbors, where we cherish one another, accompany each other’s struggles, and hold together grief and “falling forward” in a spirit of compassion and solidarity.
I am excited for you and what you will do – and we together – as 2021 emerges.
Wishing you every blessing in the New Year,