Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church Arcade, NY
Two quotes put Christmas into focus for me this year. The first came from a sermon that Martin Luther preached on Christmas himself in 1543. He said:
“The inn was full… there are many of you who think to yourselves: “If only I had been there! How quick I would have been to help the baby!” Why don’t you do it now? You have Christ in your neighbor. You ought to serve your neighbor, for what you do to your neighbor in need you do to the Lord Christ himself.”
As you can see, Martin Luther wasn’t the type to mince words. As I read the words, I felt a certainty that he must have been talking to me. It’s amazing how words 500 years old can still ring so current and so true. We’ve all heard of Monday morning quarterbacks. Monday morning quarterbacks look back and reflect on what they think should have happened during the football games the day before. They say things like, “we should have gone for it on 4th and 1, They should have kicked a field goal. Why did EJ Manuel start the last game of the season for the Buffalo Bills with Rookie Cardale Jones riding the bench!?!” They look back, and with certainty offer their opinion of the events before. The reality, of course, is what little good that does.
As I reflected on the words from Martin Luther I heard him talking to the Monday morning quarterback in me. The one who would have welcomed Christ into the inn, and gave Mary the best maternity suite she’d ever seen. And then I remembered what little good being a Monday morning quarterback does. Instead, perhaps, it was more important how I was welcoming Christ on Monday morning.
The second quote that struck a cord this weekend hammered that point home. Howard Truman wrote:
“When the star in the sky is gone,
When the Kings and Princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins.
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To teach the nations,
To bring Christ to all,
To make music in the heart.”
We may not be able to control the welcome of Christ that first Christmas night, but that was never a job that fell to us in the first place. Our task is the work of Christmas now. And Christmas, contrary to popular opinion, is not behind. The work of Christmas is just beginning.
As we enter this New Year that is my prayer for you and for your church’s, neighborhoods, and community. That we look less at what we think others should be doing, and spend more time looking for the ways God is calling us to heal, feed, and teach. Don’t be a Monday morning Quarterback looking back. There’s too much work to be done on today, and we are the ones God has called to it!
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.