Christmas, the birth of Love in unexpected circumstances. We are often reminded of the ironic arrival of Jesus in such a humble setting. But it’s a lesson for life, isn’t it? Aren’t we invited to seek love in all situations – humble, joyful, empty, even sad. Love is not limited to a perfect holiday scene, though we yearn for such moments every year.
I attended two funerals this December. One of a young man, kind and generous in this life – a painful loss for all, especially his mother whose husband died last year. The other was for a Sister of Mercy, an unexpected death, but at the end of a long, loving life. She was a mentor to me, keeping her heart open to love even in the challenging of moments of life.
The traditions of Christmas bind us together, they return us to times of wonder and comfort, joy and celebration. The cookies, gift exchanges and decorations remind me of the little pieces of hay that my children used to add to the nativity scene. They prepare us for the upcoming birth, they set the stage so we are ready to welcome Jesus.
As I try to integrate my losses and the losses we experience nationally and globally, into the Christmas story, I find myself moving inward. I can no longer celebrate the birth of Jesus as the end of the story, for I have been transformed by his Gospel. All the preparations and the real life circumstances have brought me to this moment. A new year begins, once again, and I choose to embrace “The Work of Christmas” described here by theologian Howard Thurman,
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 others…to make music from the heart.
May it be so, brothers and sisters, please listen to this link as you read this prayer