The Work of Christmas
December can be a huge rush of activity: parties to plan, presents to buy, multiple items to check off the to-do list each day. Lights and tinsel to hang, malls to visit, traffic on 41 or I75 to negotiate. No time to enjoy the season - just rush, rush, rush to get all the work of Christmas done before the big day arrives.
All through Advent, from Black Friday until Christmas Eve, the advertisers are out in full force, vying to capture the attention of harried shoppers who know they haven’t found the perfect gift for Aunt Bess and who are still looking for that one electronic gizmo little Jimmie asked for - the same one millions of other kids across America have asked for because of the media blitz aimed at their young, impressionable minds.
And then at the last minute, that late-night Christmas Eve trip to Walgreens to stand in the aisles with the other (male) souls who procrastinated too long to begin their shopping - I feel their pain, mostly because I’ve been one of those poor wretches.
It can be a stressful time, this month of December, with all the holidays to keep up with, like Solstice and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. But in our culture it’s the Big One that drives most of us over the edge and holds us back from enjoying any real reason for the seas
on; it’s all that work getting ready for Christmas that can ruin the day before it even arrives.
Surely there’s something else. Surely there’s another way. Surely we could shift our priorities and come to a different vision for this time of year when many religious traditions celebrate the coming of the light back into the world yet again.
Howard Thurman knew all about the American obsession with the commercial Christmas. The late author, theologian, and civil rights leader from Daytona Beach knew that the actual work of Christmas begins as the holiday itself is ending.
Rev. Thurman wrote: “
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.
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.”
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and a Blessed Solstice to you and all yours.