Christmas Day!

Finally! It’s Christmas Day, the celebration of the birth of our Lord. We’ve been planning it for weeks, even months, been crafting like crazy, baking like mad, wrapping and decorating as though not getting everything done might be a reason for guilt and shame. Sometimes we forget the real reason for the celebration in our urgency to meet impossible expectations. Even on Christmas Day, there can be flashes of anxiety that something has been overlooked, misplaced, left undone, or done improperly. Somehow, Jesus seems to have been packed away early. 

Regular routines have been uprooted as viruses and epidemics raise their evil heads again. People who normally attend Christmas Eve Mass or a Christmas Day Eucharist either try to find an online replacement for their neighborhood parish service, or they skip the whole thing, feeling bereft that something so essential and meaningful, not to mention traditional, is missing in their lives – again. 

So comes Christmas Day. There are many phone calls and family Zoom sessions to replace the whole family gathered around the tree. After a couple of years of this, we’re beginning to accept this as the new normal.

Still, it’s Christmas Day, the end of Advent, and the beginning of the 12-day season of Christmas. Mary is resting from her labors.

Joseph is probably getting some sleep, and the Baby Jesus lies quietly in a manger. The angels and shepherds have gone, and the magi haven’t yet arrived. For the cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, and all, it’s just a regular day, like any other, despite the uproar of the previous night. 

Sometime today, it would be good to take a few minutes to sit quietly, doing nothing active, putting hamster thoughts behind, and just be in a quiet place, allowing God time to get in a few messages we might not have had time to listen to – or for.  

Take a moment to read the words of Howard Thurman, civil rights leader, educator, and theologian: 

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 remember to take the real work of Christmas with us all year. It is a gift that is never too small or large, the wrong color, or a duplicate of something they’ve already got. It is simply what everybody needs – every day, every minute. 

Have a peaceful and blessed Christmas Day.

*The Work of Christmas, by Howard Thurman (1985). Found on Education for Ministry (EfM), Facebook, December 22, 2021. 

Image: Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerard von Honthorst (1622). From the Pomeranian State Museum. Found at Wikimedia Commons.

Linda Ryan is a co-mentor for an Education for Ministry group, an avid reader, lover of Baroque and Renaissance music, and retired. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter. She lives with her three cats near Phoenix, Arizona.

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