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Midnight Before Christmas

‘Twas midnight before Christmas, and all through our town

A dusting of snow had shut everything down.

The pastors, though, still had to break bread

In case anyone to their chapels were led,

So about ten souls, huddled in hallowed pews,

Listened with patience to the oldest good news.

Then the preacher recounted the story of that morn

When shepherds and angels saw love being born.

How Mary and Joseph gave thanks for a manger,

Offered that night by simply a stranger,

Who may not have known they were refugees in danger.

The tiny congregation shook hands, “Amen,” they said,

Then returned to their homes to crawl into bed,

With hopes that tomorrow along with good cheer,

The weather would turn and the roads would be clear.

Then the preacher, that’s me, seeing no one in sight,

Said, “Now, I can pack up my doubts for the night.”

I picked up the bulletins and taking a last view,

I noticed a man left sitting in a front pew.

Exhausted from Advent and the Christmas flurry,

I asked my husband to come back in a hurry.

“I’d like to listen to his poor story,” I lied,

“But I should make tea,” I said as I sighed.

“Listen to his story, and away we can go,

Give him a few dollars before he walks out in the snow.”

So off to the kitchen I slipped out of sight,

And left the two men bathed in bright candle light.

Then I noticed this man, frozen from the street,

Had no shoes and had wandered in with bare feet.

I made some chai adding a sprinkle of spice,

I didn’t want him to think I wasn’t being nice.

But Christmas is tiring and sometimes gets droll

Raising money and feeling you’re selling your soul.

So adding some sugar into the mix,

I hoped it might be the thing to silently fix,

The nagging feeling deep in my soul

Where soured faith can leave a pretty big hole.

As I rounded the corner to the holy space,

My interior mind rationalized at a quick pace.

“He isn’t Jesus,” I said to my heart;

“He’s here cause too many systems have fallen apart.

We should vote with our conscious, buy with intention,

But we won’t solve his problems with this late intervention.

If it were up to me, I would let him sleep here,

But the insurance companies give me too much to fear.

Maybe he has a friend who will get him through the night

Or maybe, just maybe, he’s already be out of sight.”

Alas as I walked back into the church,

The two men hadn’t moved from their initial perch.

Except for the smallest detail appeared strange.

Now my husband was barefoot in the exchange.

The new boots I had given him early that week

Were now on the stranger’s cold, tired feet.

For a moment the sight turned into a vision,

My heart was opened by love’s faithful collision.

That cut to my core with perfect precision.

I offered the tea, then stood at the altar

So moved by the act I thought I might falter.

Without making a fuss or creating a tweet,

Suddenly it Christmas came without missing a beat.

It didn’t come from fancy ribbons or good teaching,

But in two men sharing shoes without preaching.

In just one tiny deed that before me unfurled,

It felt Christmas had come once again to the world.

This Christmas there was no receiver or giver

Just people loving enough to deliver,

The deepest truth that can fill a tired old soul

Declaring love is all around for us to behold.

It moves past cynicism, past doubt, past fears,

It brushes aside our sadness, our tears.

Love calls to us like a bright shining star

To celebrate Love’s wonder wherever you are.

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