I hope that everyone had a blessed Christmas, sharing the love of Christmas with friends and family. As we transition from Christmas to the New Year, I pray that we are able to keep Christmas beyond the next few days. While searching and studying readings for Christmas Eve Service, I discovered this poem by Henry Van Dyke.
Henry van Dyke was an American author, educator and clergyman, born in 1852 in Germantown, Pennsylvania. He taught English literature at Princeton University most of his life but felt a close connection to Christmas and Easter as a clergyman. One of his most famous poems is Keeping Christmas. I share this as my January Pastoral Pondering as a reminder of the message of Christmas that should live with us throughout the new year.
There is a better thing than the observance of Christmas Day, and that is keeping Christmas.
Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people
and to remember what other people have done for you?
To ignore what the world owes you and to think what you owe
To see that men and women are just as real as you are, and
try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy?
To close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for
a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness?
Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children?
To remember the weakness and loneliness of people growing old?
To stop asking how much your friends love you, and to ask yourself whether you love them enough?
To bear in mind the things that other people have to bear in
Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest
thing in the world – stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death – and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas. And if you can keep it for a day, why not always?
Blessings, Rev. Gloria