The Work of Christmas
The Work of Christmas is our theme this year for the Advent season. And what is the work of Christmas? The work of Christmas is what happens when the angels stop singing, when the star stops shining, when the flocks need tending again, and when the child is no longer resting in a manger. The work of Christmas happens throughout the year when the candles have burned down and the carols have stopped. Even this day, as we've celebrated Thanksgiving, continue to move through Advent, and wait for Christmas to come, we are craving the spirit of goodwill to attend to our broken lives and this messed up world. Even in all of this, there is work to be done. There is work to be done as we eagerly anticipate the coming of God, our Savior, as we await with expectation that the Divine will make a home with us. It is time to attend to the work of Christmas.
Our guide this Advent season into the work of Christmas is the Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman. Howard Thurman was born in 1899 and died in 1981. He was one of America’s greatest mystics and activists. He was an African-American theologian, a gifted educator and author, and a prominent civil rights leader. In fact, he was a mentor to many of the civil rights leaders of the era, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Thurman traveled extensively, leading Christian missions and meeting with prominent world figures such as Mahatma Gandhi. And so, each Sunday, through story, sermon, and song, we will explore Dr. Thurman’s poem, The Work of Christmas as we seek to do this work ourselves each and every day of the year.
The Work of Christmas
by Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman
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 flocks,
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.
December 1: “The Work of Christmas Begins” - Psalm 122
December 8: “To Find the Lost and Heal the Broken” - Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
December 15: “To Feed the Hungry and Release the Prisoner” - Psalm 146:5-10
December 22: “To Rebuild the Nations and Bring Peace Among the People” - Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
December 24: “To Make Music in the Heart” (Jesus and the Disinherited) - Luke 2:1-14/ Psalm 96
December 29: “The Work of Reconciliation” (Disciplines of the Spirit) - Psalm 148
Calendar of Events and Activities
The Royal Lane Advent Hymn
The Work of Christmas Calls Us
The work of Christmas calls us, to recommit our heart to find the lost among us: all those who feel apart; to heal all broken creatures, in body, mind or soul; this candle draws us closer to hope that makes us whole.
The work of Christmas calls us to grow in heart and mind; to feed the hungry masses, to poverty resigned; to free the captive pris’ner, unjustly stripped of rights; these candles light our pathways, in peace, through darkened nights.
The work of Christmas calls us to suffer with the least, with love, to teach the nations, ‘til all come to the feast; ‘til systems of unfairness give way to equity, by candlelight, we struggle to set all people free.
The work of Christmas calls us more deeply into prayer, that Christ, who walks among us, be made known ev’rywhere; a sense of joy surrounds us, expressed through Mary’s song; these candles yet illumine the day awaited long.
The work of Christmas calls us upon this Holy Night to love all those excluded, and bring them to your Light; in deeds of love and mercy, make music in the heart; for in a lowly manger, God brings a brand new start!
The work of Christmas calls us to tasks which never end, to reconciliation, injustices to mend; when Beth’lem’s star is absent, and kings and princes gone, and shepherds back to herding, The work of Christ goes on.
Text: Michael G. Dell, for Royal Lane Baptist Church, Dallas, TX, Advent 2019. Tume: RUTHERFORD, Chrétien Urhan (1834)