And so, Christmas Day has come and gone. Though Christmastide still has many days left, most of us are already looking towards New Year’s Eve and all that lay beyond.

Nevertheless, it may be worth pausing for a moment to stop and take stock of what has transpired throughout this past year.

Yes, it has been a year full of losses unlike many others. Not only have we lost superheroes, secret agents, and heroes of the people alike, but many of us have lost family members and friends along the way. And the world will never be the same. We have lost times together, experiences, and celebrations. Some are facing financial difficulties, losses of businesses or jobs, and hardly know how they will make ends meet in the next few months. Others are facing cancer diagnoses and heart disease and lung diseases, because none of that has disappeared just because we’ve all been facing a global pandemic. People are weary. Worn. Tired in ways that 2020 has brought to light that have always been present. In so many ways, this has been just a really, really, really, really bad year.

But it has also been a year that has seen some of the very best of humanity, too. People have been looking to the needs of their neighbors again, many for the first time in decades. Others have been finding new and creative ways to ensure that their families can “see” each other, even if they could not put their arms around one another. There have been incredible moments of human beauty – like that times in New York and Italy when people began singing spontaneously from their apartments and the music spread. Many have spent the year standing up to and calling out bullies. All of us have begun to realize who our real essential workers are – of course first responders, our nurses and hospital workers, doctors and surgeons, but just as important are all the people who keep our infrastructure functioning. The appreciation we have for our trash collectors and sanitation workers, delivery persons, and utility workers, (just to name a few) is through the roof. And the vast amount of creativity we have seen from people in the caring professions and those working with people, doing everything in their power to ensure as much normalcy as possible for those under their care, has been beyond remarkable.

It is true that 2020 has been a year like no other. We have seen the very worst that humanity has to offer, that is certainly true. But we have also seen the absolute best.

And now we come to a brand new year – what shall we do with it?
Well, it’s always a good time, at the turn of the new year, to return to the classics. So allow me to share my absolute favorite poem by Howard Thurman. It is entitled, The Work of Christmas, and it is how we should begin 2021 and all the years we have ahead:

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.

Blessings, Pastor Janie

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