Monasteries of the Heart

Monks in Our Midst: Howard Thurman on The Work of Christmas

Howard Thurman is an African-American theologian, pastor, and mystic who lived from 1899 to 1981. He is best known as a mentor and spiritual advisor to the Civil Rights Movement, and Martin Luther King Jr in particular. Thurman wrote many great spiritual texts, including Jesus and the Disinherited (1949), Disciplines of the Spirit (1977), and more. 

The following poem is from The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations.


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. 


Reflection Prompts:

  • What do you view as your work in this liturgical season?
  • Share your own poem or response to Thurman's poem.


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