It is said that if you want someone’s attention, begin with these words: “Once upon a time.” In that spirit, I offer my homily for Christmas Day…

‘Twas the night before Christmas
(based on Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas”)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the town
No room was found for our Savior, nowhere to settle down;

The manger was filled with fresh hay with great care,
In hopes that Emmanuel soon would be there;

The shepherds were nestled all asleep on the hill;
While visions of angels, the skies they would fill;

And Mary waiting expectantly, with a very full belly,
Had just settled into a stable that was smelly,

When out on the fields there arose such a clatter,
Shepherds cleared their sleepy eyes to see what was the matter.

Away to the manger they flew like a flash,
Leaving sheep behind for this 100-yard dash.

The angels and heavenly hosts sang out with full voice;
God had come to earth—they hardly had a choice!,

When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature child, held by his mother so dear,

With a little infant cry, that child, Mary’s one,
They knew in a moment he must be God’s Son.

More rapid than eagles his disciples they came,
Each one of them, this Savior, would call out by name:

Come Andrew, come Peter, come James and come John,
Come Judas, come Matthew – get your tax collecting on,
Now Phillip, Now Simon, Nathaniel and Jude,
On James number two, and that Doubting Thomas dude.

To the hill of the cross, to the empty tomb wall,
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!

As flames that one Pentecost morning would fly
When they meet with Apostles, in many tongues they would cry.

So to the ends of the earth, his disciples they flew
With Mary, and Mary, and the other Mary too.

And then, in my life, I heard this call too.
Baptism joins him to me and to you.

Through straw and clay, friends digging through a roof
Rubbing shoulders with prostitutes, he never stayed aloof

As he gathered the crowds and fed them with bread
They sensed something bigger… a heavenly banquet was spread.

He was dressed very simply, not normal for a king
But his Kingdom, you see, was no normal thing

Stripes and scars he would bear on his back,
Nail wounds in his hands, and a promise to be back.

His eyes—how they pierced us. His gaze made us merry.
His crown was woven of thorns, how scary!

His beautiful frame was hanged on a cross,
They gambled for his clothes, rude dice they would toss.

Terrible nails they would fix in his hands and his feet,
He was lost and forsaken; everything spelled defeat.

But this tree had a purpose, and God had a plan,
To save the sinful world by this Son of Man.

He was wounded and beaten and gave up his last breath.
But in his dying he destroyed the fierce power of death.

On that dark Sabbath when all hope was lost,
Our Savior, our Jesus, paid too high a cost.

They wrapped up his body and left him for dead,
A white linen shroud from his feet to his head.

But early Sunday morning, most of the world still sleeping,
Some surprised grieving women began Gospel preaching.

He rose up from the grave, to his disciples gave a commission,
“To the ends of the earth–so that no one is missin’!”

And they heard him exclaim, as he ascended out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and e-ter-nal life!”

(c) 2015 Matthew D. Musteric