|Howard Thurman (1899-1981)|
Monday, December 26, 2011
"The Work of Christmas"
Howard Thurman was an outstanding theologian, educator, and civil rights leader. On this day after Christmas, we would do well to read and ponder one of his poems.
Thurman was listed in Ebony Magazine as one of the 50 most important figures in African-American history. Among his twenty books is Jesus and the Disinherited (1949), which greatly influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. (Thurman was the Dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University, the first black person to be named tenured Dean of Chapel at a majority-white university, during the time King was a graduate student there).
Thurman’s poem “The Work of Christmas” was published in his book titled The Mood of Christmas (1985). You may have heard this poem previously, as it is very fitting in the days following the celebration of Christmas. It is a wonderful poem, and I invite you to give attention to it again:
So much of the Christmas season is shaped by commercialism, hedonism, and sentimentalism. But the true significance of Christmas is more than a sweet story of the miraculous birth of a baby who was immediately worshipped by rough shepherds and then by majestic magi.
As Thurman suggests, though, we have not properly celebrated Christmas unless we have committed ourselves afresh to feed the hungry, to do what we can to bring peace among all peoples, and to radiate the light of Christ in all our words and actions.
So now that Advent has been observed and Christmas has been celebrated, in both secular and religious ways for most of us, let’s get on with the work of Christmas. Then we will have truly celebrated the birth of Jesus.