The Mood of Christmas by Howard Thurman

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Christmas Beginnings

Written By Robert Hansel

Christmas crowdThe holiday season has become for lots of people more of an obstacle than a celebration—something to be endured and survived. By now most of us have had about all we can take of crowded stores, syrupy electronic Christmas music, and interminable traffic tie-ups. We’re tired and frazzled by all of the chores that have to get done, presents that have to be purchased and wrapped, and the mind-numbing logistics of travel plans and party schedules. Lots of folks tell me, in all candor, that they’ll just be glad when it’s all over, so they can pack up the ornaments and life can get back to its normal routine.

The problem with that attitude is that it reveals exactly how mistaken we are about the nature of Christmas. Properly understood, Christmas is not just a day or even a season of the year—an event on the calendar that arrives and passes. No, Christmas is much more than that. It is a permanent change that enters into our world, “for keeps,” affecting every one of our attitudes, actions, and relationships for the rest of our lives.

Howard Thurman in a collection called The Mood of Christmas puts it this way:

When the angels’ song 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 the brothers
— To make music in the heart.

Christmas is, you see, not an END of anything. It is the beginning of a whole new way of understanding the world, each other, and ourselves. Christmas is the arrival date for a gift that must be opened up and put to use if it is to make any difference at all.

It all STARTS right now. Christmas is God’s way of presenting himself to us, in-person, offering to enter into our hearts to STAY. The Incarnation is, literally, “the enfleshment”—God’s compassionate Spirit is born within each of us, yearning to find daily expression in actions of Thanks-living.

Where do we go from here? We go out, each one of us, to carry God’s gift into that difficult, challenging, frustrating, and wonderful world for whom the gift has been given. You and I are the delivery system. What a gloriously beautiful plan.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! God bless us all!

Copyright ©2003 Calvary Episcopal Church