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The Christmas Story

THE CHRISTMAS STORY

by J.M. Murdoch, Rhetorical Redhead ©2015 All Rights Reserved

As written for and performed at the Christmas Eve Services at Salem Alliance Church on December 24th, 2015

*PLEASE CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO SEE THE FULL POEM & ACCOMPANYING ILLUSTRATIONS*

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INTRO

‘Twas not the silent night of old

tradition leads us to believe;

perhaps the greatest story told

is the ‘Unspoken Christmas Eve.’

Both fully-God and fully-man,

fulfilling holy prophecy,

the Rock on which the Church would stand

bore humble birth and ancestry.

Come sit, come hear the Tale of Times

retold in careful word and script;

there’s much to read between the lines

revealed anew each year, for it’s

beyond the text, beyond the page,

these people, places, feeling, thought,

define a Faith that’s without age

because of Love, because of God.

PART I

A woman, young (a virgin still)

her hand in marriage promised to

a carpenter whose honor, skill,

and righteous love did bind the two.

Yet Mary, Joseph, chosen, blest,

knew not of heaven’s holy course

’til God saw fit to send His best,

Beloved Angel, to enforce

divine events–Oh Gabriel!

What gladsome tidings did he bring

upon beholding Mary, well,

and coming in his voice did ring:

“Oh Favored One! so filled with grace!

Ah, Mary, do not fear me now;

the Lord is with you in this place,

and I’ve good news, as God allows!”

But Mary, wond’ring on the name:

What favor? “Grace-filled lady,” I?!
The strangest salutation came

to leave her speechless, void reply.

“Behold,” he said, “you will conceive,

for God delights in soundest faith.

Your womb will bear a son, believe

and know His Kingdom will be great.

His Name of names is ‘Jesus, Lord,

the Son of God on High’; the throne

of David will be His; the sword

will be His word forever known.

And He will reign as prophesied

o’er Jacob’s house, authority

eternal in the glorified

fulfillment of His sovereignty.”

But Mary, still perplexed at this,

did venture forth to say, “How so?

How can this be? What is amiss?

Since I am but a virgin, no?”

Then Gabriel, in patience, said,

“The Holy Spirit, blesséd one,

will come upon you while un-wed

and as foretold you’ll bear a son—

with God all things are possible.”

She heard, believed, and understood,

embraced her newest calling’s pull,

accepting of her Motherhood.

But Joseph, learning soon enough

that Mary’s womb held not his son,

discreetly planned to send her off

in secret to disgrace her none.

Yet in a dream the Angel came:

“Do not let fear turn you away

from Mary; wed her, hold no shame.

The child whom she bears will save

His people from their every sin;

the Holy Spirit in her dwells,

this babe—your charge without, within—

named ‘Jesus, Lord, Immanuel.'”

What faith, what trust in Joseph’s task—

believe and hear the Lord’s command!

To disregard their culture’s risk

in honor of the role God planned.

The days and months did pass in time

and in that age the census bid

for each to file back in line

returning to their home. So did

the two, bearing the Divine load

and leaving all they knew behind.

Dual strangers on a foreign road—

no home, and not sure what they’d find.

Thus braving dangers seen, unseen,

to Bethlehem their feet did crease

prophetic lines to paint the scene

to greet the Savior, Prince of Peace.

PART II

Their journey, long and arduous,

for Mary’s womb was filled to burst.

Such weary bones and hearts, and thus

not knowing what came next was worse…

In Bethlehem, in search for rest,

for shelter, food, and Mary’s health,

but much to their dismay, their quest

revealed no soul would share their wealth.

“We’re occupied! No rooms to let!”

fell heavy on their hopeful ears

as Mary’s hands absently met

her son’s beneath her swollen sphere.

Relentless as their search, their prayers

uplifted to God’s silent eye

to quell the rising fear that there

might be no refuge from the night.

In desperation for his bride,

one final plea from Joseph’s lips

did stir one innkeeper to sigh

and move to aid as much as this:

“I’m all full up…that’s not to say

I won’t do what I can for you…

the stable’s dry, with fresh, clean hay…

I wish there’s more that I could do.”

Too tired to care, accepting this

strange blessing, they did seek and find

the dwelling where to coexist

with gentle beasts who did not mind.

Yet beasts, like all creation, knows

when life (and death) are taking place

and in their nervous lowing grow

the pains, the groans, the sweat-stained face.

No one to help, no hands to soothe,

though fully-God, the boy would come

in fully-human form and through

His mother’s agony in sum.

No silent night, this Holy Night,

His entrance to this world the same

as ours, though sinners in our right,

His birth brought forth our Sinless Name.

So Joseph—husband, midwife, nurse—

did catch his newest charge and hold

His face up to his own—no words!—

just joy and tears for what’s foretold.

Made perfect in imperfect birth,

what awe of precious babe in that

for all the witnesses on Earth…

just two…some beasts…so humbled at

such fragile love! so fiercely made!

beheld in tired arms to nurse.

Full weight of what’s to come did lay

upon their minds, but Joy came first.

Such tiny hands would lift the lame…

such eyes—so clear! our God who sees!—

a voice to silence sin and shame

with Truth, for His Salvation frees!

Oh King of kings, and Lord of lords,

what humblest origin You hold;

to know our Savior, so adored,

came to us low, ignored, and cold.

PART III

Now meanwhile in a region near

some shepherds watching o’er their fields

and flocks of sheep ‘neath heavens clear

a holy angel was revealed

in Glory’s light, the shepherds shied

away in fear, oh how it shone!

Angelic splendor petrified

the herders with their faces prone.

“Be not afraid,” the angel said,

“Behold the wondrous news I bear:

great joy in gladsome tidings spread

for all God’s people, everywhere!”

With breath still held, to hesitate,

Why us? What makes us blesséd to

bear witness to this delegate

and hear such holy, joyful news?

The messenger pressed on to say,

“In David’s City, shepherds, heed

the Truth that Christ is born today,

your Savior Lord, as gospel reads,

and let it be a sign for you—

you’ll find Him wrapped in cloth and laid

within a manger, thus unto

His side to praise and homage pay!”

And suddenly a multitude

of heav’nly host with angel joined

as shepherds’ eyes beheld the view

in this celestial appoint:

“Oh Glory be to God on High!”

the chorus rang so jubilant.

“And peace on earth to men who by

the Lord finds favor and intent!”

Their message served, the angels went—

returning to their hallowed skies;

the humbled men, in wonderment,

still silent—stunned, and mystified.

The moments passed, a beat, or three,

afore someone did venture with:

“I’m not alone—please—did you see

and hear our call to bear witness?!”

From disbelief, their faith renewed,

in all improbability

of being ones to witness to

the Truth through holy prophecy.

Then one by one in unison

the shepherds, knowing what was asked,

agreed what’s destined had begun

so unto Bethlehem as tasked

they journeyed forth to find a boy,

a babe! But nonetheless, a King!

What blessing to be those employed

to usher in His reign supreme.

Without delay they set their pace

to David’s City on their search,

and, Spirit-willing, found the place

where Earth and Heaven’s Love had merged.

And there—oh joy!—the face of God

did sweetly greet His visitors

with chirps and tired eyes, their awe

enchanted them to hardly stir.

“It’s Him,” one whispered, “what a sight!

The One whom prophecy foretold!”
And Mary, smiling, blessed this night,

their guests, the beasts…even the cold,

for when’s God’s Creativity

expected or discerned…assumed?

His Son birthed in obscurity—

no pomp, no entrance as presumed.

So shepherds, in their witnessing

the Sacred Child as proclaimed,

made known to peoples every thing

and testified His Holy Name

to all they met, “Good News have we!”

Of what they’d heard and seen, gave praise

to God, and those who heard believed

and wondered on this blesséd day.

While Mary’s heart in quiet held

these things of which she pondered on;

her son—God’s Son!—on Earth would dwell

and rule with Peace the coming Dawn.

PART IV

The time which eased in Jesus’ wake

soon passed and all resumed;

the three were housed, and there to wait

for further word…for something loomed…

The genesis of Christ, while slow

to spread, His birth set motion to

three magi spying star aglow—

announcement of the Divine Youth!

They traveled to Jerusalem

to seek the newborn King of Jews;

the people, wary of these men

whose mouths did utter strangest news:

“Where can we find the Child-King?

We saw His star advance the sky!

This sign, thus prophesied, will bring

a ruler, so please tell us why

and where so we might homage pay

and worship Him, the Eastern Star.”

So gossip spread without delay

and with it rose acute alarm

for Herod, King of Judah heard

the whispers on the city streets—

these ‘experts,’ ‘wise men,’ had conferred—

concurred!—this boy would take his seat!

So Herod called his priests and scribes

and asked them of their knowledge in

this King, “Messiah”…their reply

confirmed his selfish fears within:

“Oh Bethlehem of Judah, you

are by no means the leader least;

from out of you a Ruler who

will shepherd Israel in peace.”

Enraged was he, of darkest hearts,

his own self-love and greed consumed

each thought, and so from Evil sparked

such hate, his savage venom fumed.

But Herod masked his wickedness

to call upon the wise men three

in secret charging them with this:

“Go, seek the Child; report to me

when you have found Him so that I

may also go and worship Him.”

So following King Herod’s sly

command, the magi did set out again.

They knew not Herod’s plan to harm

the newborn, thus the three men viewed

the star which reappeared and turned

them south—five miles they pursued,

and there the star would hold its place

o’er Bethlehem; the travelers

in seeing this their hearts did race!

Rejoicing towards the house they spurred

anticipating what they’d find–

behold—a man, a woman, and

a child welcomed them in kind!

What joy to witness God as man!

The magi, falling to the ground

at Jesus’ feet, began to praise

and worship Him, in wonder bound,

presenting gifts, with each they raised:

The Gold, for highest deity

came first, and second in the wealth

was Frankincense, for purity,

and third, the Myrrh to preserve health.

Such simple home! What precious gifts!

These riches fit for royalty!

The wise men knew, while others miffed,

Divine was He in sovereignty.

The time arrived for them to leave,

the magi readied to depart,

report their news by Herod’s plea

so he might also praise impart.

But God, Omniscient Father, He

did warn the men to not return

to Herod, rather—turn and flee!—

for Judah’s king with evil burns!

And taking heed, the wise men went

another way to reach their home.

Unto the dust their names were lent

the young King’s dwelling thus unknown.

In learning of the magi’s flight

King Herod’s fury was unleashed:

no Child-King would be his blight!

Descending darkness…fingers reached…

No silent night…this Holy Night…

no red bow topping story when

God’s Love was born amidst the fight

for Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men,

for not all men are filled with peace,

thus Jesus—sent to save us from

ourselves so Death’s dark reign would cease

because of God’s Beloved Son.

TheChristmasStory

“The Christmas Story” by J.M. Murdoch, as written for and performed at the Christmas Eve Services at Salem Alliance Church 12.24.2015

Rhetorical Redhead ©2015 All Rights Reserved

Published inPoetry
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