Christmas: A Night Like No Other

December 28, 2015 | by: Wes Gristy | 0 comments

Posted in: Sacred Time

It’s dark tonight. Darker than most
It’s that time of day when we pray
For the dawn to break and take the dark away

But this night is like no other night
Because come to find out, this is the night that ends all nights.
Imagine that: a darkness that is overcome, undone
By the slightest flicker of a flame, struck to burn in a no-name place

No, no reason for them to be there, except that in those days this Caesar
Augustus, as he’s hailed, gave a royal proclamation:
“Return to your town of origination.”

No, no one would dare stare down this decree—
His hungry deed to count each and every one, even a newborn son
Just to tighten down his taxes on the masses
Just to polish that shine on his Roman crest—
That farce of a crown that lies to the rest of us that he is
     Son of God
     Prince of Peace
     Lord of Lords
     Kings of Kings

Under that crown, that shroud of darkness
That time of day when we pray
For the dawn to break and take the dark away
Therein a couple finds not one room fit to labor in

But still the pains arrive: the screams and shrills
Her water breaks as chaos spills all over the place
That place that reeks of wet hay and muck
The only place left for this flesh-and-blood occasion
One like any other, only in a less than ideal location
And like in those days death sits and waits
Behind the scenes to see which one might be easy to devour

But an hour passes, then two more
Animals stir, keep stirring by the door
Then finally it happens, though it’s happened before
A mother cries and a child is born

And so a candle is lit, set upon the trough, glowing and growing
Nay, showing itself only to the face of his father and mother
They, warming in the cold sit there unknowing
Unknowing how this tiny son of theirs could be the one
To drive this dark away

What? A child? A newborn baby?
Helpless he, in a manger be exposed to every danger
For a puff of air, a whirl of wind could snuff out this glimmer of light
How could he, could it really be the one who ends all nights?

If this is so—how could it be so?—then the world must know
That like before, this is an act of creation once more
As the waters had spread out like a floor beneath the hovering wind
That same Spirit comes down again and crowns the crown of his head
With a whisper it says
     Son of God
     Prince of Peace
     Lord of Lords
     King of Kings

If this is so—how could it be so?—then the world must know.
Who will be told on this night of nights?
Who will share in the delight of this the mightiest might?
Well, did I mention that this night is like no other night?

For tonight the tables are turning, he rights the wrongs
Lifts up the lowly, scatters the strong
He picks the last one up, puts him down in front
Surprising each and everyone of us

For into the fields his messengers go
Into the confines of the lowliest of low
Those mindless sheep watchers, troublemakers really
A pack of wolves skirting the propriety of their own society

But to these ones—wow!—the brightness shines up that dark dome
High above their fears and hopes
For who would have guessed that glory would press down
On such a place as this

Oh the wonder of this night, darker than most
But lit with a promise fulfilled, announced among the stars:
Good news! Wonderful, joyous is this news of ours.
Your savior, your savior is here: He is Christ the Lord.

Can you imagine? Can you feel it? Is this really true?
Give us a sign, how will we know? An infant bundled in blue?
What? A child? A newborn baby?
Helpless he, in a manger be exposed to every danger
For a puff of air, a whirl of wind could snuff out this glimmer of light
How could he, could it really be the one who ends all nights?

And then suddenly they appear, a military force so fierce to fear
That those shepherds, they cower and cringe upon the ground
For death is certainly near
But then they hear those words, yes, that magnificent verse:
“Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth.”

Louder and louder it grows, piercing their ears
Deep down with the sound of a promise done
That’s he’s the one, this newborn son
To be lifted high one day
That day when all of us with one voice resound that he alone is
     Son of God
     Prince of Peace
     Lord of Lords
     King of Kings

Well, with a rush, they ran, oh man
I have never seen anyone run to the son like those ones before
And just as it was said that scene was set exactly how they imagined it
Mary, Joseph ’round about a feeder box
Glowing with the light on top of God made man

Out of breath they caught their breath to catch that first of all our glimpses
Of holiness and happiness and peace beyond our senses
Wrapped tightly he gazes up to lift them up
With those eyes so filled with innocence

Who could blame them, that motley crew
To go and tell everyone they knew
Tell it on the mountain, tell it in the fields
That the king is come, evil’s undone
All things are on their way
For the dawn shines new, though this night, not through
It’s finally Christmas day

So let’s take a page, a moment and pause and tip our glasses red
For the anointed one of David, of whom we eat this bread
Has broke into our condition, with all our suspicion and pain
To break us from ourselves and make us truly human again

So drink this wine, be filled and shine; Spirit, illuminate our souls
As we take in this one, this child of God, to taste what he beholds

For though helpless he, in a manger be exposed to every danger
No puff of air or whirl of wind will snuff out this glimmer of light
For it is he, can’t you see, the one who will end all nights

Oh what a night What a way to start your day
Your everlasting life
You can finally say goodbye to all the strife
To the pain, to the gut wrenching cries inside
And wake up to this flickering flame
For unto us a child is born
And Jesus is his name
     Son of God
     Prince of Peace
     Lord of Lords
     King of Kings

So let Christmas be for you and me not merely just another word
But now a word made flesh, a word come near
To this rebellious sphere sustained only by his faithfulness

Let Christmas be not merely the love that passes
Between a mother and a child she possesses
But now a love that passes from the Father
To another child in need
That child is you, that child is me

For yes, it’s dark tonight, but hold on: not really
It might be that time of day when we pray
For the dawn to break and take the dark away
But praise God, he’s heard our cry
Praise God, the darkness is overcome; it’s undone
By the slightest flicker of a flame, struck to burn in that no-name place

And it’s a flame we shall all kindle again and again
A flame we shall all share with friend and foe, let the whole world know
Tell it on the mountain, tell it in our homes
That Christ is born in Bethlehem
The king is come, evil’s undone
All things are on their way
For the dawn shines new, though this night, not through
It is finally Christmas day

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