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 nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.
As I reflect on this poem (“The Work of Christmas” by Howard Thurman), I think about the lost and broken prisoners that we visited last Saturday. I will never forget singing in West Block and hearing a spontaneous eruption from the far side. “God is good!” the prisoners chanted. “All the time!” other inmates responded. “All the time!” the first group shouted. “God is good!” the others bellowed. Those words, proclaiming the goodness of God, were deafening as they echoed throughout the concrete structure and iron bars separating these outcasts from society. Nowhere else in our sophisticated county would God’s goodness be proclaimed as freely and genuinely and loudly as it was that night inside San Quentin. Later, our voices were transformed into something holy as we sang of “His redeeming grace,” words bouncing off the rotunda walls and through the open window of Condemned Row to sink into needy hearts. May the work of Christmas begin!