Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Night of First Christmas

by Chad Sparks
Twas the night of FIRST Christmas, and all round the earth
A few were expecting our great Savior’s birth.
But outside of Joseph and Mary his mother,
It was a surprise to anyone other.

Most mortals were nestled all snug in their beds,
Or pining away in fear and with dread.
Yes, viewed from humanity’s angle was seen
Our distance from God, man’s sin in between. 

So dark was the world, in more ways than one,
Man needed some sunlight and needed the Son.
But what was occurring in heaven that night
Is something that I want to now bring to light. 

In the throne room of God, who rules earth and space,
Great joy for the ages was was just taking place.
A plan that for eons was followed precisely
Was perfectly coming together quite nicely.

It was no mere chance or stroke of good luck
that led to the night that left shepherds awestruck;
God did more than nudge fate’s outcome that night,
He planned it with joy from creation’s first light.

That’s right, e’en before creation’s beginning, 
He conceived a great story, that included our sinning.

It’s rarely considered—God’s side of the curtain
A different perspective, I can say that for certain.
So with your mind’s eye, let’s go there right now,
to the throne room of God to see why and how.

Before there was earth, sun, or planets like mars,
Before there were galaxies, matter, or stars
God did, don’t you know, already exist,
The causeless effect, and here’s a good twist:

This God, although one in essence and being,
Is also three distinct persons agreeing
And living in harmonious communion and love
God Father, God Son, and God Spirit the Dove 

He completely enjoys satisfaction unending
And glory and pleasure and light comprehending;
He precisely had need for not anything more 
With riches and goodness and power galore!

Yet discussion amongst the Godhead began
to consider sharing God’s bounty with man.
“We are so much joyful in fullness and light
We must create others to share our delight. 

What will be these creatures who can comprehend
A God, Almighty, and also a friend?
They must be formed in our image you see,
Like us they’ll be plural, a he and a she.

We’ll give them a soul, a spiritual hunger,
Make them crave worship, appreciate wonder.

Let’s first make a world where they can survive,
Let’s make it with water where all life may thrive.

We’ll create a sun for light, warmth, and weight
Of gravity that makes it revolve and rotate.
A sky that is filled with stars that shine out
And a moon that at night glows with visual clout.

In fact, a whole cosmos for just that blue dot
And physical laws of this nature God wrought
Might cause men to yearn for the Creator of all 
and know of his wisdom and order and call!

We’ll make them mere mortals but make them alive
We’ll give them a garden, of no gift deprive
We’ll put them in charge of all other life kinds
And let them experience a love’s tie that binds.

They’ll love one another, they’ll be as one flesh.
They’ll love their creator with passion afresh.
They’ll know the great love God has in God’s self.
They’ll live in the joy and enjoy the earth’s wealth.

We’ll walk with them daily in the cool of the eve,
They’ll know us completely, they’ll MORE than believe, 
They’ll relish our presence, they’ll feel our delight
They’ll make earth much better, they’ll fill it with light.

But how will they know us completely?” God asked,
“If they never know need, if they're never downcast?
If they never need God to give them relief,
Will they understand hope, if they never know grief?

And what of the goodness of God will they see?
His grace and forgiveness, cause for jubilee?
Will men know the depths and extent of God’s love? 
Will they be bound to earth and not heaven above?

If men have no option for sin from the start
Obedience for them won’t be from the heart.
They’ll know not the fullness of God as they could
What’s light, until darkness is well understood?”

So God gave man something, a gift or a curse
God gave him a will—free, for better or worse.
Obedience is cheap if it’s forced and compelled.
But given from love, it’s unparalleled.

Man’s gift of free will, well we know the story
He ate of the fruit, it’s no allegory
Death and a curse was rightly his wage,
For sin and rebellion deserving God’s rage.

And so came the evil and sadness of sin.
Man entered a prison with darkness therein.
A slave to his flesh and to Satan he was,
A sin-nature that dirties whatever he does
Is now an intrinsic part of his being,
And will be passed down to his seed unforeseeing. 

Cain’s murder of Abel his own little brother
Was first among many who killed one another.
Rebellion at Babel, the self-worship tower
Confusion of language diluted man’s power.

But God was undaunted, his plan still in tact, 
As men grew more evil in breach of contract
Meant judgment of all, the whole human race, 
Would show them the consequence of their disgrace.

God sent a great torrent that covered the world
And under the waters that flooded and swirled,
The sinners of earth were summarily drowned 
Except Noah’s family which ark did surround.

Then drunken old Noah began it again
What seemed to be clean was marred with his sin. 
Then God chose a man whose family he blessed.
Because he believed, God’s name he professed. 

God purposely chose to reward Abram’s faith
And for the first time, a Messiah, he saith
Would be Abram’s seed, a descendant, a star, 
Would bless all the world and would bring near those far.

Abe’s family, Isaac, and Jacob and sons
Believed in God’s promise but still weren’t the ones
Who God said would come and bless all earth’s men
And save them from all of the wreckage of sin.

Abe’s children were stubborn and like all of us
They could not be faithful, they sinned and they fussed,
God freed them from slavery, from Egypt’s hot sand
He gave them his law which he wrote with his hand.

But time after time the people defied
This God that had showed so much grace they denied.
God sent them the prophets to warn them and plead,
And gave them his word that they would not read.

Untold generations continued rebelling
Until God declared that his earthly dwelling 
Would no longer be in Jerusalem’s temple.
He’d had it with Israel, t’was really that simple.

His Spirit ascended to heaven and closed
Off all conversation and those who opposed
Israel were given the run of the place,
Their temple destroyed, their people displaced

But God was in heaven, honing his plan
Whereby God the Son would become a man.
“Let’s do this to show them what God’s really like
That God sees the rich and the poor both alike,

The male and the female, the young and the old
All are my children, find all in my fold.”
So by a poor girl Christ came to this earth. 
The angels called shepherds to witness his birth.

But imagine in heaven before the revealing,
Michael and Gabriel and others were feeling
Excitement that no human words can express
As all were waiting to sing and to bless.

The multitude of the heavenly host 
Instead of Jerusalem, announcing to most
God sent them to pastures near Bethlehem town.
To a handful of shepherds and sheep bedded down.

“Don’t make them afraid,” to the angels God said,
“We want them to come to the manger his bed. 
My Son is for poor men—like these—who receive,
I want them to see him, that they might believe.

And instead of a quasar or comet of might, 
A stellar event, exceedingly bright,
Let’s make a new star, for those who are seeking
A sign from above in the heavens for speaking,

Let’s show them that not only Jews do I love
We’ll call some from Persia with a star up above.
The Scriptures they copied from the captivity
Will lead them to join in my nativity.”

So instead of a God-sized and grand celebration,
God’s humble appearance is a clear illustration,
The job of reporting the news of God’s birth
Falls right at our feet to take round the earth.

Yes, the climax of all of God’s grandiose plan
To create a world for a creature called man
And to give him a choice and allow him to fall
So he would know God, and his grace most of all.

Of course Jesus’ birth is not the last word,
This baby was born (don’t think I’m absurd)
for the purpose of dying a criminal’s death.
As he said it himself in his final breath:

“It is finished!” The darkness, the stain of man’s sin
That plagued our existence, corrupted within.
God finished the mission he started at first;
He showed us his love, when we were our worst.

Yes he, himself, took our sin and our stain.
Yes God bore our guilt, he felt our pain.
Now when we believe in this baby that came
And follow this God who calls us by name,

Our lives are made new, and we are now blessed;
We live life forever, not on earth at it’s best,
But in heaven with God, who has given us more
Than this physical world that we wrongly adore!

So let’s spring to our feet, to our friends give a whistle
And send out the Good News like the down of a thistle;
And let us proclaim with all of our might:
Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!

[For a video of the reading on Christmas Eve 2016, click here.]

1 comment:

danl said...

Thank you Chad for this. Our family was blessed much by the hearing of this on Christmas Eve service.