“Twas the Night Before Jesus” Christmas Eve December 24, 2017
So, are you ready?
It seems we rush to get to this moment, this time of our lives, don’t we? For some, the last 3 – 4 weeks have been like:
- A roller-coaster ride with all the sharp turns and the ups and downs
- For others, they have shot out of the starting gate like a rocket
- For some, it has been a slow & steady trot or walk
- And still others haven’t even left the starting gate.
And along the way we’ve intertwined the secular, our culture, with the sacred.
Sights, sounds, and smells bombard our senses. This time can touch our memories as no other time can.
Over the past few weeks . . .
We’ve watched pageants, plays, and programs.
We’ve shopped for, waited in line, wrapped, waited in line, sent, waited in line, received and exchanged gifts.
We’ve decorated inside and possibly outside our homes – lights, a tree, ornaments, seasonal wall hangings, Advent calendars, poinsettias, homemade arts and crafts, and so forth.
We’ve written, addressed, stamped, waited in line, and sent. We’ve received, opened and read.
We’ve baked, and baked, and baked; and have eaten, and eaten, and eaten – and have eaten, eaten, and eaten.
We’ve planned parties and get-to-gathers, and have attended, or will attend the same.
We’ve watched Xmas specials and old Xmas movies on TV; or on our computers.
We’ve listened to a wide range of Christmas music from the old, to the recent, and the new.
We have enjoyed the majestic and inspirational sounds of college and high school choirs, orchestras and bands.
We have listened to the angelic sounds of little cherub choirs where it really doesn’t matter if they know the words or not; nor how loud they sing or not sing at all but just stand there; or whether they’re even facing the right direction. Their excitement and the wonder in their eyes say it all.
And along the way we’ve challenged ourselves to be patient with “the moron who just cut me off and took my parking space. You idiot get out of my way!” “Well, the same to you . . . And Merry Christmas.” “Jesus loves you, you know!”
We’ve thought about the old and prepared the new.
We have participated in worship services that have pointed us toward this evening, this moment of anticipation; this time of great expectations. Each week during worship, as a new candle was lit on the Advent wreath, we heard the prayers, sang the songs and hymns, and heard messages of hope, anticipation, and preparation of God entering into our history and into our lives.
And we remember. For some it is good memories. And for others, because of various reasons, the memories aren’t so good.
During this time, this season, some have also had to deal with an increase in their stress and anxiety level, not just because of the season, but also because of their own or someone else’s illness, disease, surgery, or income, or job related issues, or relationship issues.
Some have had to struggle with sadness and depression at the loss of loved ones this past year, as well as losses from the past. All of which seems to trigger memories and feelings that seem to be magnified and at times almost unbearable for some during this season.
Some have searched out this time for strength and renewal; while others flee outwardly or inwardly driven by fear or dread.
And yet, after nearly 4 weeks of a hectic schedule, and in addition to all that may be happening in our lives, we come together this evening to hear a story. In some ways it is a very familiar story.
For 2 millenniums people from around the world have gathered at this time of year to hear read and told the same simple story of the first Christmas; to hear the story of a couple in a strange town, of a birth of a small child, the story of interesting, if not questionable visitors, and some other very strange happenings that first Christmas.
To hear this story is but one tradition that gets repeated over and over again.
Around 50 years ago, a Lutheran minister, writer, and poet by the name of Herb Brokering combined the rhythmic scheme of the famous poem “The Night Before Christmas” with the sacred story of the first Christmas to write a poem entitled “The Night Before Jesus.”
So tonight, I invite you to hear the true Christmas story again – one more time.
I invite you to place everything from the years gone by, from the past few weeks, as well as everything tomorrow and the following days, everything off to the side of your brain.
I invite you to listen with open hearts and a childlike spirit; to let the Christmas story speak to you again for the first time.
So relax, take a deep breath, and listen to the story:
“Twas the Night Before Jesus”
By Herb Brokering
Twas the night before Jesus and all through the earth,
every creature was stirring for a new baby birth.
The people were looking straight up and then down,
to the left and the right, in the country and town.
Some faces were watching far out in the sky
believing God’s Son would be coming by.
The Wise men were searching the heavens with care,
hunting signs of God’s love in the stars up there.
The Bethlehem children were snug in their beds;
they had dreams of olives and figs in their heads.
Shepherds were tired, weary and beat –
Their sheep had just “baaaed” their last sleepy beat.
When up in the air there rose such a clatter,
they looked up and saw angels and said, “What is the matter?”
Up on their feet they stood straight and tall
to see hundreds of angels and hear angels call.
It sounded like glory and looked bright as can be,
it was hard to believe and so hard to see.
When what to wondering eyes should appear;
glory, glory around them so loud and so near.
It happened so sudden, it happened so quick!
Was it real? Was it true or was it a trick?!
More rapid than eagles, the shepherds came,
they found Mary and Joseph, and whispered His name.
It was Jesus, Jehovah, Messiah, the Son, Emmanuel, the Lord –
He is one and each one.
To their knees they fell down to the ground;
how good to receive the one they had found.
So up to the hillsides their running feet flew,
with their eyes full of Jesus and their hearts now like new!
Faraway, Wise men stood on a roof
searching the stars for Biblical proof.
“There, there!” each one shouted, “Out in the East!”
And they mounted with speed their two-humped beasts.
They were filled with questions from head to toe, asking,
“Where is the new king, we truly must know.”
on camel’s back;
gold, frankincense, and myrrh in a sweet smelling pack.
Their eyes how they twinkled, big and red like a cherry
when down in the hay was a child beside Mary.
The king’s silent faces were stiff for a while;
then, slowly their cheeks turned into a smile.
They saw God had given God’s Son to the earth;
they took up God’s gift and put theirs down on the earth.
They had nothing to do and nothing to say.
It was truly God’s world and this was God’s day!
The king with the gold had a little round tummy.
The Frankincense king smelled yummy, yum, yummy.
The presence of myrrh was in a small can.
Mary would put it on Jesus when he was a man.
The child blinked and turned his head and the kings,
they knew they had nothing to dread.
They spoke not a word; they headed for home,
so thankful to God that Jesus surely had come.
Christ on earth; old things we like new –
Now people could see what God can do.
When people laugh or cry, get born or die,
God’s glory is near and Jesus will come by.
It is the night before Christmas from the ground to the sky
and Jesus our brother will always come by.
So we know and you know that God is in sight.
Good morning to all and to all a good night.
Here’s the audio recording of the sermon. TO LISTEN, in the SoundCloud window below, CLICK (or double-Click) the red button with the white arrow pointing to the right. If that does not work, then click on the “Sermon2 12-24-17” name of the sermon.