Thursday 31 December 2015

Thurman says it better

Well, that's Christmas.

I'm pretty sure I say that every year, as many do, but I hope you understand that I say it in jest.  The day we anoint as Christmas may have passed, but Christmas isn't over.  It's just begun.

Pretty sure I say that every year, too, probably in some long-winded, explanatory way.  But not this year.  I want to talk about beginnings for a moment, not endings, so here's some words from the great Howard Thurman that I'm pretty sure covers the "Christmas is over" thing.  If they seem familiar, they're the basis for Jim Strathdee's hymn "I am the light of the world."  It first appeared in Thurman's 'The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations' in 1885.

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 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 people, 
To make music in the heart.

That's the thing about Christmas, it's just a beginning.  It seems like the culmination of weeks of preparation - and celebration - and now it's done, but it's not.  It's a birth.

"In the beginning."  The same words open both the book of Genesis and the Gospel of John, each a story of creation and light coming into the darkness.  We draw our Christmas Story, the birth narrative, from the gospels of Luke and Matthew, but John has a birth story to tell, too.  A story of God becoming flesh and of love being birthed into the world, of light coming that cannot be overcome by darkness (John 1:1-20).

There is life ahead for this love birthed into the world, just as there is for Jesus.  Just as there is for us.  Here we are at the beginning of a new year, witnesses, like John, to the love, the light and the life that is at the heart of the Christmas story.  

Well, that's Christmas.  Now, let's get living.