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The Twelve Days of Christmas with Howard Thurman

December 25, 2018

Today Denise and I will begin reading Bruce Epperly’s book The Work of Christmas: The 12 Days of Christmas with Howard Thurman.

From the introduction to the book:

In contrast to the illusions of the rich and famous, who deny privilege based on birth, race, and economics, God comes to us at Christmas among the poor and forgotten… After Christ’s birth, the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt to save their beloved child from the machinations of the religious and political leaders. Refugees in a strange land, like many of today’s undocumented workers, political refugees, and their children, Jesus and his family survived because of the kindness of strangers who accepted them despite their immigrant status. Emmanuel, God with us, is the message of Christmas in the darkness of our own times, when our nation is polarized and people fear the future. God is with the Muslim family bullied on their way home from a mosque, a gay couple whose right to marry is challenged by “good Christian” folks, a child left behind during recess because of his learning disability, an elder abandoned by relatives in a nursing facility, and unemployed Central Pennsylvania machinists who blame their plight on immigrants and persons of color rather than the greed of American corporations. In the apparent darkness of our times, we need to remember that God is still with us as we pray: O holy Child of Bethlehem Descend to us, we pray Cast out our sin and enter in Be born to us today. We hear the Christmas angels The great glad tidings tell O come to us, abide with us Our Lord Emmanuel.

As we walk this season after Christmas, my prayer is that we will continue to hold to the true meaning of this holy time. Thurman has truly been speaking loudly (which is amazing considering that his lectures are soft-spoken and very intentional) to me as I continue to walk this journey of faith.

The closing prayer in the Introduction speaks of a hope, a challenge, and a promise.

O Holy Child of Bethlehem, be born in us today. Cast out our sin, and enter in. Fill us with your light amid the darkness of our time. Let us be lights in our world, living witnesses that love is stronger than fear, that Christ is alive in our lives and the world. In Christ’s name. Amen.

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