You know it is almost New Year’s when: the ads on your Facebook page change from “Last minute gift ideas” to ads for gyms, diets, exercise plans, and books on self-improvement. On the news, the stories all look back to the year-that-was. Parents begin to look forward to school starting up again. And pastors look to see how many Sundays we have before the next big push that leads from Ash Wednesday to Easter (we also pray that it isn’t early this year, which never works—it is, when it is.)
It makes me sad that a culture that spends so much time looking forward to the event called Christmas, we so easily put it back into the box. Christmas, after all, actually only begins on Christmas Day. It ends with the Feast of Epiphany on January 6th. But by then, most of us will have our trees down, the decorations put away, and our thoughts have moved backward—to the year we may be glad to put in the past, and forward—to what may come in the New Year.
I’m hoping that this week, you will join me in staying in Christmas-mode for just a bit longer. One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Howard Thurman, scholar, wise mentor, and man of great faith:
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 flocks,
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 the people,
to make music in the heart.
Let’s not turn the page too soon. Let’s look together at what the gift of Christmas is and can be—as we stay in this present moment—in the post-rush, post-chaos, post-guest moment when perhaps for the first time we can examine what this work of Christmas is truly calling for in each one of us.
I am looking forward to seeing you Sunday. Pastor Nancy
P.S.—don’t’ forget that our services are available on Youtube—Madras United Methodist Church Madras, Oregon.