I first heard this poem as a song. Although initially I was captivated by the beautiful melody and setting by the music composer, Jandi Arboleda, it is the lyrics and its message that made me connect to it in a deeper level. And every time Christmas season comes, I often find myself humming its melody or singing out its words. It goes:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
This poem was written by Howard Thurman, an author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and more notably, a civil rights leader. As a prominent religious figure, Thurman played a leading role in many social justice movements and organizations, and was a key mentor to leaders within the civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King Jr. Learning this about the author almost makes me think that the poem’s meaning and message are deeper and implicit. However, I believe that its words and commands are actually quite simple and straightforward. It conveys in an eloquent way what we need to do, especially as followers of Christ, when the Christmas season comes to an end. Find the lost - share the good news of Christ’s birth and salvation. Heal the broken - aid the sick, the elderly, and the vulnerable, especially in this time of pandemic. Feed the hungry - provide sustenance to people who are in need, like the homeless in our community, or donate to Second Harvest and Rise Against Hunger. To release the prisoner - help and support friends, family, or people in our community to break free from any form of addiction or abusive relationships. To rebuild nations, to bring peace among brothers - especially relevant in these times, get involved and support our government towards the path of healing and reconciliation from division due marginalization because of race, sexual orientation, religion, or political beliefs. And my favorite, To make music in the heart - to do all these work with a song and joy in our hearts. I love that the author closes the poem with this line, that after all the preceding “outward” commands, he reminds us at the end not to forget to take care of the “inward” - ourselves. With the new year ahead, and as the work of Christmas begins, I pray that the music-making in our hearts also continues and help us face our tasks with cheerful attitude.
- REY LAMBATIN, Choir Director
Matthew writes that when the magi saw the shining star stop overhead, they were filled with joy. “On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother” (Matt. 2:10-11). When you think about the people who have walked into your home this year, was it anything like the magi’s visit to Mary’s home? Our homes have become something entirely different to us. They’re not just our hideaway, they’re now the place where we work, eat, sleep, exercise, play, and get trapped. Now we have all this new data to ask ourselves if Christ is present in our home.
Epiphany of Our Lord (January 6) every year offers us the occasion for blessing our homes. An eastern European tradition of the Church is to inscribe a visual blessing on the main door with white chalk. A family would hold a short service of prayer to ask God’s blessing on their dwellings and on all who live, work with, and visit them. For example, they would inscribe 20+CMB+21. The numbers change with each new year. The three letters stand for either the ancient Latin blessing Christe mansionem benedicat, which means “Christ, bless this house,” or the legendary names of the magi (Caspar, Melchoir, and Balthasar). In this way, they would invite Jesus to be a “guest” in their home, a listener to each conversation, a guide for troubled times, and a blessing in times of thanksgiving.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were told to mark their doors with the blood of the lamb on the night of the Passover to ensure that the angel of death would pass them by. Deuteronomy 6:9 says that we shall “write [the words of God] on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, … and you shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates.”
Our homes have become our base for all things. They are the place where we sleep, eat, work, and play. Now, visitors crossing our threshold have taken on new meaning for us. Chalking the door or the doorstep of our houses invites Christ to be a part of all these activities and the whole community that surrounds our homes. As the image of the chalk fades, we will remember the sign we have made and transfer it to our hearts and our habits no matter where or how we might live in the year to come.
I invite you to join me for a Blessing of Our Homes tonight at 7:30 pm. You can join us here on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89071751168. Bring a piece of chalk, pencil, post-it notes, paper, or whatever you might want to use to mark our blessing on your house.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.