Christians around the world currently move through the season of Advent, the four weeks of joyful anticipation leading up to the celebration of Christmas Day (December 25), which commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth over 2,000 years ago. At the popular level, the Christmas holiday is now perhaps more associated with the figure of Santa Claus and commercialized through the associated ritual of giving gifts, such that the profound meaning of this holy day for Christians often fades to the background.
As a remembrance of the Christian belief in the incarnation of God in human history, Christmas has stood the test of time as an eternal source of resilient hope for many around the world and across many cultures. Coming in the midst of the darkness of the winter season in the northern hemisphere, and always in the face of society’s violence and injustice, Christmas enters again each year as a reason for, and as a symbol of, hope and possibility. Says the Gospel of John: “The light has entered into the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
For Christians, the Christmas holiday reminds us that there is always room for hope because of the in breaking of God’s grace into human life, with which we are invited to join and participate. As the words of author, theologian, and civil rights leader Howard Thurman remind us, this hope of the Christmas season truly begins when made visible through our actions.
The Work of Christmas
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 flock,
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 others,
To make music in the heart.
The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations
As we soon enter a time of holiday break from our work routines, may we enjoy the rest and time with loved ones that often accompanies this season, and prepare for the continued work ahead in 2023.
- How will you make hope active and real in the weeks and year ahead?
- How might the DePaul community be a living sign of hope through our life and work together in the coming year?
Reflection by: Mark Laboe, Assoc. VP, Mission and Ministry
 Howard Thurman, The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations (Friends United Press, 1985), 127 pp.