African American, author, preacher and theologian Howard Thurman once offered these wise words:
“When the song of the angels is stilled,
And the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are gone,
And the shepherd back with his 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 people,
To make music in the heart.”
It might be almost January, but the Lectionary stays with the Christmas story and the focus of Christmas for another week. Just because the presents are unwrapped does not mean that we stop pondering how we are changed because of the birth of the Christ Child.
Christmas should have changed us as Thurman’s message of peace, challenge and camaraderie suggests. For the Church, these words could not come at a better time. Brother Thurman and Paul (in the verses below from Colossians) both bring the focus away from what we think as individuals, and refocus our hearts, minds and thus our actions on the greater Calling of the Church. If we as Christ’s ambassadors are not to become irrelevant to the needs and worries of our world, we need to look at what we are saying, why we say it, and where we choose to broadcast our message.
Almost every day I seem to run into a scathing review of a book or blog post or sermon. Someone, somewhere, seems to have an awful lot of time to devote to tearing others down. The world looks on at our religious sniping and it is no wonder they are disillusioned.
As a nation we have moved through a contentious election cycle. We have watched horrors unfold in our cities and towns that are unimaginable. We have become weary in extending compassion and help to others. And yet, the job we are tasked with as the Church, as a nation, has not changed.
For 2013, I am looking towards serving with ALL of Christ’s wisdom, compassion and joy. So that “whatever I do” becomes a sweet example of God at work — in me.
Happy New Year, everyone!
From Colossians 3:
12 God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek, and patient. 13 Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. 14 Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together.
15 Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. So let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be grateful. 16 Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives, while you use all your wisdom to teach and instruct each other. With thankful hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17 Whatever you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks to God the Father because of him.