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
“The Work of Christmas” in The Mood of Christmas & Other Celebrations (1985)
The UUCG choir sang this song during the 7:00 service on the 24th and I could hardly get through it. The first time we practiced it I welled up with tears as I read through the words and their meaning which struck me like a truck. And it was like that every time we practiced the music. I had to remove myself from the lyrics so I could lay down the melody in my head and my memory. And then, a bit at time, allowed the meaning of the lines back into my head.
The stories and traditions we celebrate during this time of cold and dark are as varied and unique as the way we take our coffee. I have learned to open my eyes and ears and heart and take in more than my childhood traditions during this time of hope and celebration.
These words bring everything full circle for me. As my children continue to grow up and start their own traditions and celebrations I find myself revisiting my own and figuring out what to keep and what to purge. As I repack the hand made ornaments and precious photo ornaments safely away for next year – I will say goodbye to the random filler pieces bought to fill empty spaces on the tree and the mantle and let them bring joy to someone else. I will let go of old habits to make room for more meaning and purpose.
My work begins now. My intent to live the principals of my life carries on. To find the lost, to heal the broken, to release the prisoner, the rebuild the nations. To bring peace and to make music. Here in my own circle of family and friends – the work of Christmas begins.