Christmas Paradise (lost and) Found

Posted: December 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

Comment of one soul flowing into one of our several Christmas eve services: “Just doesn’t seem like Christmas.” And then just before finding his seat, a followup comment. “Maybe too much football; must be missing the spirit of the day.”  Mmmm.

Then, the mentally challenged middle-aged adult who had never been to a Christmas eve service before: “I came to the first service, but I’m coming to the next one. I can’t get enough of this. What is it?” When he held his candle high during Silent Night, his shining eyes scanned the room of light as a child. Becoming what you need to become to enter that kingdom.

Paradise lost … and found.

On a side track: KFUO out of St. Louis, the only fully classic station in that city, was sold. Praised be the technology gods, it is now live streaming. So just go to and click on to listen. And there is an app for your iPhone, too: KFUO. It’s free, too.

And finally, a meditation for Christmas Day:

The late Quaker mystic, Howard Thurman, penned one of my very favorite poems and it is called, The Work of Christmas:

When the song of the angels is stilled
When the kings and the princes are home
When the shepherds are back with their flocks
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost
To feed the hungry
To release the prisoner
To rebuild the nations
To bring peace among the family
To make music in the heart

What I love about this poem is the way it portrays us as left with the aftermath of a party; the last person has put on their coat, waved goodbye and pulled out of the driveway. Then the door latches and we scan the living room to see what has to be done:

There are dishes to be cleared, trash taken out, and folding chairs to put back in the garage. There are thank you notes to send. We need to clean up the spill in the kitchen. And then lock the doors, turn off the lights and make sure the cat has food and water. We make a mental note of what we need to do tomorrow because it will be here before we know it.

So often the real work begins after the party, life takes place after the celebration.

So in a very real sense, the work of Christmas begins after everyone has gone home – angels, shepherds, and wise men. And what to do? Now that’s very interesting.

Birthdays take place because there is a life to celebrate in the first place, and the only reason to have Christmas at all is because of what the life and words of Jesus signaled, came to represent. It’s his life that makes his birth worth singing about. Absent that understanding Christmas is a charmed day, Winter Solstice. Most people who rush the malls to fuel our ailing economy aren’t thinking about the way of Jesus. In fact, I think it perfectly fair and honest to say that the majority of those going through the motions of Christmas absolutely hate a preponderance of what Jesus actually has to say, if they knew what that was in the first place. Happy Birthday, whoever you are, whatever you did and thought and said and why, you abstract concept, you!

So when we talk about the work of Christmas what we’re really talking about is the work of Jesus and how our lives fit with that, if they do. Baby Jesus grows up, after all. And, as faith goes, we have to as well.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, said Jesus, quoting Isaiah, to bring good news to the poor, the recovery of sight to the blind … (Lk 4) …to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. He’s proclaiming Jubilee, the grand start over of God, the forgiveness of debts, the canceling of the impossible yoke.

So one day, after we take down the tree, put away the ornaments, and finish off the last bit of Christmas candy we walk through the living room and Jesus is sitting there. This isn’t the baby Jesus or even the grown up one. This is the resurrected one, the one who lives at the right hand of God, in the world, through the faith of those who hold him. And this Jesus says,

“Thought you put me away for another year, didn’t you?”

“I kind of did.”

“It doesn’t really work that way.”


“No, you put away the party but I stick around.”

“Well, what do we do with you?”

“You can’t put me away like the nativity set. I’m not one of those little figurines.”

“I know that.”

“Do you?”

“Of course, it’s just a symbol.”

“Out of sight, out of mind…”

“Ok, what’s your point?”

“You like to take me out at Christmas because you like to think you can control me, establish some healthy boundaries with me, take me out and then put me away.”

“Moderation in all things. I don’t want to get too extreme.”

“Oh, believe me, you’re not.”

“So if I keep you out all year what can I expect?”

“You can expect that Christmas isn’t a day, it’s a state of mind and heart. The day just reminds you of what I am and what you could be all the time.”

“Ok, I’ll try.”

“Good for you. If you don’t mind I’ll just hang out in your living room. Nice flat screen.”

“Suit yourself.”

So Jesus made himself at home. And from the next room he called, “Hey, where do you keep the remote?”

  1. Jan Coffman says:

    Thank you for the music link, but nothing can compare to the music at BCC these last few weeks. But it was more than the music, it was the family of BCC that shared the Christmas love.

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