Christmas, celebrated by Christians each year to commemorate the birth of Jesus, comes right after the longest night of the year on the Winter Solstice and for centuries has signaled the return of the light. Christmas is a time of hospitality and generosity. And it is a reminder of the hope that is always being born.

African-American theologian and Christian mystic Howard Thurman appreciated all these meaning of Christmas and wrote often about them. In Howard Thurman: Essential Writings, selected and edited by Luther E. Smith, we discovered four readings for you to use to name this day.

A Vast Vitality

"There is a strange irony in the usual salutation, 'Merry Christmas,' when most of the people on this planet are … (read full excerpt from Deep Is the Hunger by Howard Thurman)

Prayers & Mantras

Give thanks for the vast vitality of the Creator who plants hope in our hearts in times of desolation, depression, and fear.

Madonna and Child

"During the season of Christmas in many art galleries, in countless homes and churches, and on myriad Christmas cards … (read full excerpt from The Mood of Christmas by Howard Thurman)

Spiritual Practices

Celebrate the Madonna and Child as a universal sign of the growing edge of human life.

Christmas Is Waiting to be Born

"Where refugees seek deliverance that never comes, and the heart consumes itself, if it would live … (read full excerpt from The Mood of Christmas by Howard Thurman)

Personal Explorations

Discover where Christmas is being born in the people and places around you.

The Work of Christmas

"When the son of the angels is stilled, / When the star in the sky is gone, … (read full excerpt from The Mood of Christmas by Howard Thurman and see a musical version of it.)

Take Action

Determine some concrete steps you are going to take to keep the work of Christmas alive in the weeks and months to come.