The Night Before Christmas
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Classic. In high school I was required to memorize this poem for my 9th grade English class. Because the assignment related to Christmas, I was more than happy to comply.
But what about the actual night before Christmas?
This season, “the night before Christmas” has played on repeat in my mind. Not the poem but the phrase, simmering on the actual night before Christmas. What did this night mean for the common people, for the Jews, the Gentiles, for us today? What did this birth mean moving forward? What was life like the night before Christmas and more importantly, how did life change the night of Christ’s birth?
Consider the reality of the night before Christmas. People were waiting for the Messiah but their best hope until then was to strive to keep all the laws and when they failed, make a sacrifice for atonement. I can imagine how overwhelming it must have felt with a sense of doubt as to if and when enough was enough. And when would this prophesied Messiah actually come?
The night before Christmas. Hopeless. Despairing. Void of assurance.
The night before Christmas turned into Christmas. Christ was born and everything changed.
As I have grown in my faith, I have come to appreciate the significance of that event…and more importantly the significance that the first Christmas night birthed so much more than a baby boy. Yes, it’s possible to celebrate the holiday without even thinking about Christ. We have very much Americanized this event and can easily make merry our version without understanding the true meaning. I’m not here to debate the origination of modern day Christmas or the exact day when Christ was actually born. I think what is more important is that we have greater opportunities around the holidays to remember Christ, to breach the subject of who Jesus is, to pray that people who have yet to be introduced to this love can have seeds planted through song and the spirit of the season.
The end of Christmas and the current year always makes me a little sad. I’m on a high from October through December which means a low will surely follow. But when I think about the night before Christmas and how Christ’s birth changed everything, I have a renewed mindset moving forward from the holiday season. While those of us who are in Christ celebrate his birth, life, death and resurrection year round, I want to skip the after holiday blues and live life with hope, with fresh hope like the ones who had just heard about Christ’s birth for the first time. The ones who no longer had to experience the night before Christmas. Those who saw prophecies fulfilled, who watched God in the flesh grow as a man, who now lived with confidence of salvation and a relationship with God.
As the night before Christmas is just hours away, refuse to let this Christmas Eve pass you by without remembering the significance of this event. Enjoy our modern day celebration with presents, lights, and family. But never lose sight of how dismal life was before Christ, and more importantly, the hope that was birthed that Christmas night.