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
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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