Faith of a mustard seed

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

In the season of Christmas, I commend to you another book written by Howard Thurman, ‘The Mood Of Christmas’. I have used it over the years for devotionals as well as Christmas card messages.

The opening section is titled ‘The Reaches Of The Past’. In this section is the writing entitled ‘The Singing Of Angels’. Dr. Thurman writes “It is of profoundest significance to me that the Gospel story, particularly in the Book of Luke, reveals that the announcement of the birth of Jesus comes first to simple shepherds who were about their appointed tasks. After theology has done its work, after the reflective judgements of men from the heights and lonely retreats of privilege and security have wrought their perfect patterns, the birth of Jesus remains the symbol of the dignity and inherent worthfulness of the common man.” … “If the theme of the angels’ song is to find fulfillment in the world, it will be through the common man’s becoming aware of his true worthfulness and asserting his generic prerogatives as a child of God. The diplomats, the politicians, the statesmen, the lords of business and religion will never bring peace to the world. Violence is the behavior pattern of Power in the modern world, and violence has its own etiquette and ritual, and its own morality.”

The section ‘The Christmas Greeting’ opens with this initial statement, again one that cannot be paraphrased— “The true meaning of Christmas is expressed in the sharing of one’s graces in a world in which it is so easy to become callous, insensitive, and hard. Once this spirit becomes part of a man’s life, every day is Christmas, and every night is freighted with anticipation of the dawning of fresh, and perhaps holy, adventure.”

From the section titled ‘Christmas Meditations’. One Christmas Sunday while Pastor to the Gordon Road Church in Atlanta, I laid out the writing ‘The Gift Of Memory’ in a gift box graphic complete with a bow and placed it in the centerfold of the morning Bulletin. This meditation speaks to us as a reminder of how priceless the gift of memory is! After a discussion on the supposition of having no memory, (very real for those who have begun to develop or are caring for parents who are in various stages of Dementia and/or Alzheimer), he raises the question of how we use our memory. Most striking to me is his perception on how we store away the unpleasant experience and every time we encounter that person, it is the first, and sometimes the only thing about them that we recall. “The next time you feel that life is mean or completely evil and that there is no good in it for you or anyone else, try this: make a list of some of the beautiful things you have seen, the breathlessly kind things people have done for you without obligation, the gracious moments that have turned up in the week’s encounters.” Just to refresh our memory.

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