North Highland United Methodist Church
Saturday, February 22, 2020
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

 

The Work of Christmas    
 
As I awoke on January 2, I had a distinct feeling of being excited for Christmas—I was really in the Christmas spirit! Granted, it was already 9 days post-Christmas, yet I was mysteriously feeling a fullness of joy and anticipation of Christmas. Why this fullness of it all came to me so late I do not know. Sure, I did all of the things one does before Christmas in my line of work—there was the UMW Party, Youth Party, an Afternoon Out program all about Christmas music, the Christmas Program, the beautiful Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, and then the Christmas Day gathering with family and friends. As fun or enjoyable or meaningful as all of those things can be, they kind of become our “work” of Christmas, as they all involve planning, organizing, and carry through. It is perhaps a bit unfortunate that the “work of Christmas” in our culture seems to be compressed into about three week’s time. While it truly is work at times, I doubt that is the intent of the celebration of God’s incarnation—the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
 
A short poem I came across again this year reminded me that the work of Christmas is not confined to a few weeks or a month. The work of Christmas really begins for us at Epiphany—the season that follows Christmas in the church and goes until Lent. Epiphany reminds us of light, and discovery, and awareness. The poem is entitled The Work of Christmas:
     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 others,
                              to make music in the heart!      Howard Thurmon
 
Perhaps I caught the Christmas Spirit just in time—because now we set aside celebration and accept the call to live and work in ways that bring our love for the Christ child alive. It is going to be a stressful year in our nation. There is a serious struggle within our denomination, with none of us yet knowing the outcome of the General Conference in May. Yet in the meantime there are people to love and welcome, there are neighbors in need, our spirits continue to need to be renewal, and our hearts need to recommit to the kingdom work of Christmas, taught to us by the child of Bethlehem.\
 
 Let the work begin among the echoes of hope, joy, peace, and goodwill. 
 
 Pastor Lou