Dear friends in Christ Jesus:
Advent is almost over and I pray that you have immersed yourself in the intentional watching, waiting, preparation and expectancy that will allow Christ and Christmas to be born in you again. Absent an appropriate ramp up Christmas can become just another day of over consumption for many and painful loneliness and isolation for others.
Christmas bids us to draw near to the God who sees us and has come toward us in a baby in Bethlehem. Taking in this truth demands that we pay attention before during and after so to speak. This leads me to note that we seem to drop off of an emotional cliff quite soon after Christmas day. I contend that such a feeling is tied deeply to poor or no meaningful preparation and not embracing the call of Christmas to do the work of Christmas.
In the beginning of the Gospel of John the incarnate Word is referred to as “light and life”. Our assignment as disciples differs little if at all from the role that John the Baptist played. Namely to “testify” or “bear witness” to the light – Jesus. I think we most faithfully and effectively do that by not only executing elaborate Christmas Eve services, as beautiful as they are, but by actually committing to and then sustaining the work of Christmas.
The Reverend Dr. Howard Thurman captures it best in his poem “The Work of Christmas”.
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 brothers,
To make music in the heart.
Yours because God came near,
+Gregory V. Palmer