The poem The Night Before Christmas has long been a favourite in many households. With its combination of mystery and mischief, it seems to uniquely capture something of the magic of Christmas. But what if it could be rewritten to somehow reflect the reality of the very first Christmas?
(I wrote this poem over a year ago and first published it on Christmas Eve 2013. I’m greatly honoured to say that this Christmas Eve, it’s also appearing as a guest post at Internet Monk. A warm welcome to all IM readers!)
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the land
The people were stooped under Rome’s mighty hand;
They clung to the hope their oppression would end
As they looked for a king they believed God would send.
They read in their books what the prophets foretold:
A Messiah would save them, as promised of old;
This coming Redeemer would save them from sin
And a glorious new kingdom of God usher in.
But how could it be they had waited so long
For a Saviour to come who would right every wrong?
Where were the signs of his glorious reign
When their day-to-day lot was all suffering and pain?
Would God send a champion, a warrior bold
To make their oppressors relinquish their hold?
And if not a warrior, in what other way
Could their freedom be won and their night turned to day?
So through darkness and sorrow, through struggle and fear
They watched for the One who would wipe every tear;
They prayed and they waited for God to reveal
His long-prepared plan to bring evil to heel.
And into the midst of this night of despair
So heavy with questions and unanswered prayer
The Word that God spoke was not power or might
But a baby whose life would turn darkness to light.
There in the manger, with oxen around
As shepherds looked on amid angelic sound,
While men sought for champions and heroes of war
The hope of the world lay asleep in the straw.
He came not to triumph through battle or sword
Or to lead a great army that hailed him as lord;
Yet under his reign all oppression would cease,
For he carried the God-given name “Prince of Peace”.
And even today in this world full of strife,
He still shows the way out of death into life;
To those who believe him and seek to obey,
His spirit gives power to live a new way.
So as we remember his marvellous birth
And join with the angels to sing peace on earth,
The message today is just as it was then:
“Happy Christmas to all, and goodwill toward men!”
Copyright © 2013 Rob Grayson
[ Image: Jeff Weese ]