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T’was Two Weeks Before Christmas (Video and Text)

Included in this blog is a link to watch the video promo for worship at Patterson Avenue Baptist Church a couple years ago.  It’s one of the most talked about sermons I have preached…one of the most enjoyable to declare, for that matter.

I first prepared it back in 2005.  I seldom preach the same sermon more than once…but, like I said, this one was a lot of fun to prepare and declare.

I heard somebody else do the same thing.  I don’t remember who or when, but I want you to know that the idea and some of the rhymes were heard at some place along the way.

Below the video you’ll find the TEXT of the sermon (with some preliminary marks not in the video, made earlier in the service, with the scripture lessons from John 1:12-14).

 

Twas Two Weeks Before Christmas

In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem, originally called “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”

 In many American homes is it read on Christmas Eve.   It begins ‘Twas the night before
Christmas’ and redefined the image of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, who had never before been associated with a sleigh or reindeers!

 Seven years ago, or so, Iheard a sermon preach based on the rhyme and cadence of Moore’s poem.  Then I read another – written in 1986 – by a Catholic Priest named Father Richard Duplantier (posted on my blog earlier this week).

I thought to myself, “I can do something like that” and the following year, my Christmas poem “Twas the Week Before Christmas” was preached at Red Bank Baptist Church.   I
think I shared that on a Wednesday Night my first Christmas at Patterson Avenue.

So, with this disclosure, I would like to share with you this year’s version of this poem, titled:  “Twas Two Weeks Before Christmas.” 

 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he
gave power to become children of God,13who
were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but
of God.14And the Word became flesh and lived
among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full
of grace and truth.

 Twas Two Weeks Before Christmas

‘Twas two weeks before Christmas, and all through the town,
People were rushing and stirring; and most wore a frown.
There was shopping to do and presents to wrap,
There was little time for resting, no time for a nap.

At church folks were busy with one thing and then another,
Singing carols and buying gifts for the kids, dad, and mother.
Advent Candles were shining hope, peace, love, and joy
Wonderful gifts of God’s grace revealed in a baby boy.

Yet back in his study, and while driving around town,
The pastor was frazzled from running around.
There were homebound to visit and sermons to write.
And soon would come Christmas with its early morning light!

As a pastor I’ve been rushing to get it all done
And sometimes I’ve wondered if we’re all having fun;
This is a season for joy, happiness, and cheer,
But like others I pray that it will be less hectic next year.

Why can’t we slow down and relax just a bit?
Like those driving in Short Pump who need to stop and just sit!
Instead of celebration, it seems like such work,
And sometimes it prompts us to act like a jerk.

Why just this past Friday I heard such a clatter
I ran up the stairs to see what was the matter.
“Did you finish your sermon?” Jeana aggressively questioned.
It was the kind of inquiry that gets my attention.

“I’ve had visits to make!” I said in protest.
“I am just taking a few moments to silently rest.”
“I do it tomorrow, I said with a grin.”
That’s when she told me about Saturday’s errands.

“I’ll just preach last year’s sermon. Who’ll notice?” I said.
“God will!” she responded, as she made up the bed.
With the challenged before me, I sat down in the den.
To write a new sermon for folks who’ve heard it again and again.

The Christmas’ story is not new, its details are clear.
Patterson Avenue Baptist has heard it year after year.
You know of the baby, the stable, and the hay
You’ve heard of the cattle lowing; and seen the star’s ray

You know of the Wise Men, who’d travel from far
Seeking a King, they followed that star
You know about the sheep and shepherds in their place
Who heard an angel’s message and rushed to see the child’s face.

We all know of the glory that made the angels sing,
About the birth of the Messiah, the Savior, the King.
God with us in the flesh, fear and darkness to dispel.
That’s the meaning of his name, the Christ – Immanuel!

The reason for this season is not the gifts or a new toy
In fact it is not really about such fleeting joy
Those emotions will all leave us when the bows are undone
And the toys are all broken and the holiday gone

We’ve focused much attention on the child and his birth
Sometimes we forgotten why Jesus came to the earth
The miracle of Christmas is not focused on a stable
But on the incredible notion that Christ might enable

Our sin to be forgiven, as God’s love Christ would share
And that that God’s grace would be given to everyone everywhere.
He’s was much more than a just a baby, I pray you will see.
He was born for a purpose, to save you and me.

Nails were hammered into his hands, on a cross our Lord bled,
Whips scourged his back, and thorns pierced his head.
His last words “Forgive them, they know not what they do!”
Marked the end of his ordeal, his torture finally through.

To a borrowed tomb He was carried,
His mother wept as He was buried.
In hell they all cheered, as victory they thought they’d won,
Little did they know it is not that so easy to hold back God’s son.

A stone covered the tomb’s entrance until the third day;
On Easter, Christ was gone and the stone had been rolled away.
The power of death had been defeated; He’d won the victory,
He was raised from the dead with evidence all could see.

We know Jesus lives and that he came back from the dead.
“He’s not here, he has risen!” another angel has said.
What a difference that can make in our work and our play
If we remember grace daily, not just Easter or Christmas Day!

God in Christ became human; then he suffered and died.
The cradle and cross are undeniably tied.
We celebrate Christ’s birth; we sing joyfully
And we know of his death. We know Calvary.

When you take down your tree and put away the twinkling lights,
Don’t forget the one responsible for each day and each night.
Thank God for the manger, and the baby from Mary’s womb.
Thank God for the cross and for Easter’s empty tomb.

Like you these coming weeks I will peer at the child,
I will consider God’s grace; and will pause for a while
I’ve thought about the importance of this coming Christmas day;
And each Sunday of Advent, I’ve wondered what I will say.

So this is my sermon. I’ve told it in meter,
Not just because I thought it might be so much neater.
I thought that perhaps if the story would rhyme
That somehow we’d all hear all differently this time.

But I guess it doesn’t matter so much how we hear it
As long as we recognize that God’s Holy Spirit
Has called us to live out Christmas all of our days,
To celebrate Immanuel’s love in many countless ways.

Christmas is not about what we receive,
What we’ve accomplished, or what we’ve achieved.
Christmas is about giving our heart, soul and mind
In faith to the Christ-child, the Savior of humankind.

The word became flesh and dwelt among us, you see
And grace offers you a chance to receive him as well as to me
And we who would do that, would come power from above
Not the power of might, but the power of love

That love of the Father revealed in the Jesus Son,
Who by the Holy Spirit brings grace and glory – and victory won.
Victory is your daily, if Christ you will receive
This moment is another chance to express faith and believe

This sermon is short, so consider it my present
But please don’t allow its duration to prevent
You from hearing the gospel, even if it is terse
And you fear, perhaps, I’ve gone from bad to verse.

The message of Christmas is easy to tell
But I have discovered that it may well
Take a lifetime of trying to learn it each day.
Like most things, it’s harder to comprehend than to say.

But Immanuel has promised he’ll be there with me,
And I trust in that grace, and proclaim joyfully
That the Son of God was born in my heart and a stable,
I’ll tell of his love as long as I’m able.

Now I am almost finished.  Soon we will all sing a song.
It’s about our Messiah, so let’s sing out strong
Let’s proclaim our God’s glory and tell of His love
Incarnate in Christ, given to us all from above.

God loves us, and cares for us, and calls us God’s own.
God forgives us our sins. Through Christ God has shown
The world what it means to live as God’s child,
To know God joy and peace, to be reconciled.

We know all the Christmas carols, about joy, hope, and good will!
Every time we sing such words it gives us a thrill
To know God’s love is great, for children, women and men,
For unto us a Savior is born! Hallelujah and Amen.

The Night Before Christmas (Little Golden Book)
by: Clement Clarke Moore
publisher: Golden Books, published: 2011-09-13
ASIN: 0375863591
EAN: 9780375863592
sales rank: 662
price: $1.71 (new), $1.66 (used)

This 1949 Little Golden Book edition of the famous poem, The Night Before Christmas, was a staple in the Golden Book line for many years. Recently found in the Golden Books archives, Corinne Malvern’s artwork for this title has been digitized and beautifully reproduced for today’s kids!

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