Sometimes things get a bit hectic for those of you in Christian leadership this time of year.
As a little gift to any who may still be looking for a new way to tell the same old story at a Christmas Eve service or a family celebration, I pass along this poem for your consideration. It was written in the rhythmic tradition of ‘The Night Before Christmas’ to explain the connection between creation, the cross, and the Christ-Child in the manger within the congregation I was serving at the time.
“Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!’ (Psalm 80:3)
May his open invitation of saving grace and love continue to lead us home to him!
A Reflection on the Night before Christmas (Marilyn Savage)
’Twas the night before Christmas and churches were filled
to sing Christmas carols, light candles, be still.
When the choirs had sung and the scriptures been read,
a little child [or, ‘a teenager’] worked up the courage and said,
(Child / Teen)
Please tell me the story so I understand
Why the birth of this baby was part of God’s plan.
At school we don’t talk about Jesus at all.
It’s all about Santa and sleigh bells and malls.
Some people tell me that God’s not for real.
That’s what they say, but it’s not how I feel.
So please tell me the story so I understand
‘bout the birth of this baby when God became man.
God became man because of his love
all so each one could be born from above.
We’re given his Spirit and called by his name
to live as his children, his good news proclaim.
But wait just a minute. I’ve jumped way ahead.
We have to start back at creation instead.
At the sound of God’s voice with his spoken command
the universe formed and all time began.
Humans were made in God’s image you see,
placed in a garden and all but one tree
was there for our pleasure and joyful delight.
We lived with his goodness ever in sight.
Walking with God we enjoyed this rich earth
in absolute peace where no sin had emerged.
No suffering or cares, simply living to please,
serving the world as good stewards of his.
But Satan was jealous of God’s special place
given through Adam to the whole human race.
Our enemy whispered his lies in our ears.
‘Disobey God. Cast away reverent fear …
and you will be like God.
Adam and Eve partook of the knowledge of good and evil
from the forbidden tree
and ever since then sin has chased you and me.
That’s why there’s bickering, fighting and wars.
That’s why there’s lying and cheating galore.
Our whole inclination is to do things our way,
to be our own gods and each have our own say.
We still listen to evil’s alluring appeal.
We still follow the father of lies, and then feel
caught in the trap of our sin. We’ve no hope
of conqu’ring the enemy all on our own.
In his hatred of God he destroyed every man … woman … and child …
taking from us many blessings God planned.
We broke relationship with our Creator who made us for himself in love.
WE NEED A SAVIOUR.
God in his holiness, beauty and glory
Is Lord over all. He’s supreme in this story.
From the moment our beautiful fellowship died
God gave a promise that he would defy
every thrust of the devil who captured us all
by breaking sin’s curse brought about by the fall.
He’d send One to rescue us from this dark place.
It would have to be love. It would have to be grace.
It would have to One who could stand in our stead,
perfectly pure to redeem us from death.
So God became human to pay the full price.
He went to the cross and he died in our place.
Satan imagined that he had now won.
But Jesus arose, the conquering Son!
That’s why I love him, this Christ-Child divine.
God became man, and he became mine.
By faith we receive this most gracious of gifts,
a Saviour who loves and forgives every rift.
He defeated the pow’r of sin’s curse over us
and holds out his hands now to you. Rush, rush
into the waiting embrace of the Son,
into the waiting embrace of pure love.
Glory to God in the highest we sing
with wisemen and shepherds our praises we bring.
With Mary and Joseph we gather in awe,
restored where all people may now walk with God.
Glory to God in the highest we shout!
The church is now challenged to get the word out!
Come fall on your knees by his cradle tonight
to put away darkness and live in his light.
He’s coming again, not with sleigh bells and snow,
but as King of all kings, and as Lord of all lords.
Forever to reign o’er new heavens and earth.
The angels are singing, ‘Will you give him birth?’
The Spirit is calling, ‘Will you make him room?
Will you see your need to let peace now resume?’
(Child / Teen)
Dear Child in the manger, I give you my heart.
On this Christmas evening, I make a new start.
Glory to God in the highest and peace,
goodwill to all people where his favour rests.
Let’s each light a light from the Christ-candle here,
pushing back darkness, his good news to bear.
It’s the night before Christmas … will you leave him here,
or will you let him fill you all through the year?
[The adult lights the child’s / teen’s candle from the Christ-Candle.
The congregation has already received a candle upon entering the church.
The adult and child now light the candles of those sitting on the ends of the pews who then pass the flame along to those sitting beside them.
‘Silent Night’ is played / sung while this is taking place.]