With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston, Jr. (depending upon who the scholars finally decide was the original author), I offer the following…
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the church
the preacher’s teaching was less effective than Google search.
The elders were nervous hanging ’round the coffee pots
in hopes that the offering would be exceedingly hot.
The men all discussed the object of their worship
sports, money, or a favorite beverage to nip.
And the ladies, well the ladies did what they do,
they passed their gossip from pew to pew.
The teens were all slouching in the back row
whispering—none too quietly—about their favorite TV show.
The children were running hither and yon
wishing the lesson soon would be gone.
When out on the lawn there arose such a noise
the preacher shut up rather than lose his poise.
To the front door all the people ran lickity-split
and nearly tore it from its hinges to gawk and flit.
And there to their wondering eyes they beheld
A ragged, little man shouting, “I am compelled…”
“Compelled I say to shout and speak this gospel
lest ye remain a useless rabble.”
“There is a God and his Son is the Savior.
Ignorance of this, well, there’s nothing graver.”
“He rolls out before us both heaven and hell.
The former is life, the latter I’d rather not tell.”
“Yet tell it I will to all I encounter
in hopes that finally their hearts I might stir.”
“Will you remain idle while others fail to see
their sin condemns them to a Christ-less eternity?”
“Will you continue as the church in the lurch
or awaken to help them find the hope of their search?”
“For if not you then who, if not now then when?
Why wait to hear a mournful graveside ‘Amen?’”
The preacher first blustered, but then hung his head
as he tore each page of his sermon shred to shred.
The elders glanced back and forth, one to another,
then fell to their knees their shame to smother.
The men were nervous shuffling their feet
as each suddenly felt his deep and bitter conceit.
The ladies all blinked with tears of sorrow
as each could be heard crying, “oh, oh, ohhhh.”
The teens soon ignored the pull of the other gender
preferring to stand with a father and mother.
The children ran to the little, ragged old man,
exclaiming as one voice, “Tell us of Jesus and his plan.”
And so the ragged, diminutive man quietly said,
“Far better for you if by God’s truth you are fed.”
He spoke many words then left to finish his work
but, as he was taking his leave, he turned with a jerk,
and lifting his hand high to the sky
they heard his final plea, a deafening cry,
“As with Jeremiah of old, may it be with all of thee
that if you fail to share the good news of the Trinity
his word will become as fire shut up in your bones
burning to be loosed upon those who weary of their groans.”
As every step carried him further, further away
his words grew faint, yet still we could hear him say,
“Revival, revival, ‘tis the need of this season.
Take serious his message. Let it be your reason
for giving, for working, playing, laughing or crying.
The reason for the season must ever be his living and dying.