Faith of a mustard seed

Last updated on January 5th, 2017 at 05:00 pm

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

In his work “Deep Is The Hunger”, Dr. Howard Thurman writes this: “There is a strange irony in the usual salutation, “Merry Christmas, when most of the people on this planet are thrown back upon themselves for food which they do not possess, for resources that have long since been exhausted, and for vitality which has already run it’s course. Nevertheless, the inescapable fact remains that Christmas symbolizes hope even at a moment when hope seems utterly fantastic.

The raw materials of the Christmas mood are newborn baby, a family, friendly animals, and labor. An endless process of births is the perpetual answer of life to the fact of death. It says that life keeps coming on, keeps seeking to fulfill itself, keeps affirming the margin of hope in the presence of desolation, pestilence and despair. It is not an accident that the birth rate seems always to increase during times of war, when the formal processes of man are engaged in the destruction of others.

Welling up out of the depths of vast vitality, there is something at work that is more authentic than the formal discursive design of the human mind. As long as this is true ultimately, despair for the human race is groundless.”

The ‘Mood of Christmas’ seems to be more and more difficult to catch as the years go by. What with ‘death going down’ and walking to and fro this year knocking on so many doors. Family and Friend losses; favorite voices silenced— Muhammad Ali and Prince. Gene Wilder, Patty Duke, Billy Paul, Garry Shandling and Merle Haggard in Nashville; and Pat Summitt from up on Rocky Top; you continue this list.

I have always collected Christmas Music adding at least two new releases each year. This year, ‘in the presence of desolation, pestilence and despair’, Roberta Flack has ‘the margin of hope’ in her pen— ‘There’s Still My Joy’ which simply says: “I brought my tree, down to the shore; The garland and the silver star; To find my peace, grieve no more; To heal this place inside my heart. On every branch I laid some bread; And hungry birds filled up the sky; They rang like bells around my head; They sang my spirit back to life. One tiny child can change the world; One shining light can show the way; Through all my tears for what I’ve lost; There’s still my joy, There’s still my joy; For Christmas Day. The snow comes down, on empty sand; There’s tinsel moonlight on the wave; My soul was lost but here I am; So this must be amazing grace. One tiny child can change the world; One shining light can show the way; Through all my tears for what I’ve lost; There’s still my joy, There’s still my joy; For Christmas Day. There’s still my joy; For Christmas Day.”

I am mindful of a recent Christmas season past in attended an Art Exhibit of five of Nashville’s foremost African American Artists. What began as a wonderful Christmas season event soon turned when three young males entered with kerchiefs on their faces. With guns in their hands they ordered everyone down on the floor.

They took jewelry, wallets, purses, cell phones all while ranting threats of death. In the aftermath I heard one say that they had stolen her grandchildren’s Christmas money. But, I am most concerned for the ‘sense of security’ that was stolen.

“There is something at work that is more authentic than the formal discursive design of the human mind.” One tiny child can change the world; One shining light can show the way; Through all my tears for what I’ve lost; There’s still my joy, There’s still my joy; For Christmas Day. There’s still my joy; For Christmas Day.

by email: mustardseedfaith@outlook.com