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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

The Work of Christmas … to preach good news to the poor

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day 

he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor… 
Luke 4:16-18

Welcome, ladies, to the morning leisure of the day after Christmas. In case you didn’t know, it’s Boxing Day. In my youth, in Canada, parents lounged in their pajamas by the fire, lingering over a second cup of coffee while we kids explored the toy world at our fingertips. No one worked; the stores were closed. By afternoon kids and parents alike were ready to head for the nearest frozen pond or snow-covered hill, skates or toboggans in tow. And leftovers were the evening fare: hot turkey sandwiches.

The tradition for Boxing Day can be traced back to Britain. The lords and ladies of the manor boxed up food and other items for their servants, field workers, and trades people the day after Christmas, St. Stephen’s Day.

As the carol tells us: “Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen” and took pity on a poor man struggling through the snow, “gath’ring winter fuel”. At the end of the carol, we uncover the intended spirit of Boxing Day:

“Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor,
Shall yourselves find blessing.”

Foreshadowing the spirit of Boxing Day, Jesus declared the celebration of His birth not an end in itself, but the beginning of God’s blessings. Reading from the scroll of Isaiah,He proclaimed the work of Christmas: “to preach good news to the poor” (4:16).

In Canada today, Boxing Day is a statutory holiday, but the stores are open and the post-Christmas sales abound. Personally we still love coffee by the fire, the world of toys, and a walk in the park considering the lack of snow in Texas. And of course, hot turkey sandwiches.

We, like you, will continue to bless the poor with material gifts. More importantly however, the Work of Christmas is a challenge to us to do as Jesus did, to bring good news to those in need of redemption.

Nancy P

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