When I was serving at a church in Wisconsin, the senior pastor produced an Advent sermon series entitled "'Twere The Days Before Christmas," dwelling on the historical and cultural context and the events leading up to Jesus's birth and based on the famous poem "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." It didn't end up fitting into the sermon series execution, but we did involve it in a Christmas play I produced. Poem is below:
‘Twere the days before Christmas, when all ’round David’s towns
Not an Israelite was smiling, but more likely to frown.
Zechariah laid the incense by the altar with care,
Frightened to see the angel Gabriel there.
For God made a promise to the elderly gent
A Spirit-filled baby will lead many to repent.
He will shout from the wilderness, ‘Prepare ye the way.
‘Be righteous and charitable as we wait for the day.’
He’d be dressed in camel hair, from his head to his foot,
Eating locusts, wild honey and never staying put.
Zechariah’s son’s message would cause the rich strife,
And immerse the lowly and unholy in new life.
For Zechariah’s son, John would be his name,
Would bring God’s righteousness and saving plan to fame.
John’s birth would be one of many miracles to come,
But because Zechariah doubted, he then became mum.
But though Zechariah could not speak of his glee,
his wife Elizabeth praised God for pregnancy.
Though the land was morose under Caesar’s quick sword,
There was then a sense of hope in the Lord.
Then, in Nazareth where hearts are gloom-laden
The same angel appeared to a humble young maiden
Her name was Mary; she was celibate and lowly
But she would give birth to One Most Holy.
His name would be Jesus, meaning ‘one who saves’
He would rescue many bound for a perennial grave
For His kingdom’s rule would never be undone
And He would be called God’s very own Son
Mary was frightened and joyful at once
But submitted herself to God at this bunce
With haste, she trekked miles, perhaps more than a dozen
To see Elizabeth, who was also her cousin
When Mary saw Elizabeth, John jumped in her womb
For joy was tangible in that little room
Then Mary composed a psalm of great praise
For His humble servants the Lord would raise
Later John was born, but his name still debated
And the mute Zechariah became quite frustrated
He wrote ‘John’ on a tablet, giving the final word
And his voice then came back, everyone shockingly heard
Zechariah then went from priest to prophet
And spoke of his newborn’s God-given docket
Along with the salvation that God would afford
And everyone in Judea had fear of the Lord
Then back in Nazareth, Mary’s betrothed then heard
From Caesar, that another census was spurred.
So Joseph and Mary, in her maternity gown,
Would trek to Bethlehem, Joseph’s hometown.
The carpenter and his gravid fiancee packed all day,
and hopped on a donkey for a small place to stay.
Their loved ones watched until they trekked out of sight,
Shrugging, “Safe travels and have a good night!”
Though it seemed to many that God’s world had crumbled
He was, in fact, blessing families faithful but humble
Through a miraculous conception and an incarnate birth
This is how God would come save the earth
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