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Incarnation

Looking Back at Christmas

Incarnation

The “Put Christ into Christmas”, “Keep Christ in Christmas” banners, stickers, buttons are wrong.

You cannot keep Christ out of Christmas.

Christ is there in the hustle and bustle. Christ is there amongst the ring of the cash registers, the terrible piped music, the stress, the good-wishes, the sending of cards, family tensions, and exchange of presents. Christ is there on the beach, in the holidays, even in the bleak Northern Hemisphere midwinter.

Our task is not to bring Christ to where he is not. Our task is to recognise where Christ is. To point to where Christ is. To worship Christ. Our task is not to put Christ back into Christmas; our task is to put the Mass back into Christmass.

And if you are going to call the Eucharist “Midnight Mass” at Christmas, you can’t complain about others calling the Eucharist “Mass” for the rest of the year…

And if you had a Christmas crib with statues of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (and others) at Christmas time, you can’t complain about others with statues of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (and others) for the rest of the year…

The Work of Christmas Begins

Howard Thurman (1899 – April 10, 1981) wrote:

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 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 people,
To make music in the heart.

Howard Thurman was an influential American author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader. He was Dean of Chapel at Howard University and Boston University for more than two decades, wrote 21 books, and in 1944 helped found a multicultural church. He was a mentor of Martin Luther King.

I first knew the images of this poem through Jim Strathdee’s song:

CHORUS:
I am the Light of the World
You people come and follow me.
If you follow and love, You’ll learn the mystery
Of what you were meant to do and be.

1. When the song of the angels is stilled.
When the star in the sky is gone.
When the kings and the shepherds have found their way home.
The work of Christmas is begun!

2. To find the lost and lonely one,
To heal that broken soul with love,
To feed the hungry children with warmth and good food,
To feel the earth below the sky above!

3. To free the prisoner from his chains,
To make the powerful care,
To rebuild the nations with strength and goodwill,
To call a man your brother everywhere.

4. To bring hope to every task you do,
To dance at a baby’s new birth,
To make music in an old man’s heart,
And sing to the colours of the earth!

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