When Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Today I want to share with you a poem that I have heard many times since it was first published in 1973. This simple but powerful writing by Howard Thurman was included in his book, The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations. Thurman (1899-1981) was a significant African American pastor, poet, theologian, educator, civil rights leader, and the author of 21 books. In 1944 he co-founded the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco, the first integrated, interfaith religious congregation in the United States. From 1932 to 1944 he served as Dean of Rankin Chapel at Howard University; from 1953 to 1965 he was Dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University, the first black dean to serve at a majority-white American university. His most famous book, Jesus and the Disinherited (1949), influenced Martin Luther King, Jr., and many other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.
I invite you to let these words seep into your mind and heart and daily living.
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.
To Do the Work
God of Love, Incarnate in Jesus the Christ, in whose life the words of the prophet Isaiah were fulfilled: Pour out your spirit upon me that I might be empowered to do the work of Christmas. Show me the way and give me the strength. Amen.