Randall Shepard shares this poem with us:

A Different Visit

‘Twas the night before Christmas, in year number one

We shepherds were lonely, our work just begun.

The nights were the longest at that time of year

And darkness makes any man struggle with fear.

The folks down in Bethlehem were snug in the bed

But out on the hillside, I’m inside my head.

Each sound that I hear I imagine a beast

And wonder if mutton or man is his feast.

The Romans have conquered this once Promised Land.

And the Pharisees are happy to lend them a hand.

We’re poor and we’re hungry. We’ve no will to fight

We just want to get through this cold dreadful night.

Then what to my wondering eyes did appear,

An Angel who said, “You have nothing to fear!

I give you good news that will bring you great joy!

The Messiah is born. Go look for that boy.”

“It’s so dark! Perhaps a big guiding star?”

“That’s in Matthew, not Luke. And, it’s not very far.

You shepherds are poor. You can’t bring him a prize.

You know this. You really are not very wise.

You’ll find him in David’s town, but not in the inn.

They knocked but the keeper would not let them in.

He’ll be in a manger in swaddling clothes

All bundled and snug from his head to his toes.”

And then, in a twinkling, we heard from above

A choir of Angels singing songs of great Love,

Of glory in Heaven, and peace on the earth

And all of it from this immaculate birth.

And then they were gone… the silence returned,

But inside my heart, a new fire burned.

‘Twas Hope that had kindled. Now all fear was gone.

For somehow I knew that the battle was won.

The King that was promised by prophets of old

Is a child! Just a child, so the Angels have told.

“We must go and see if these wonders are real.

And tell all the world of this Hope we now feel.”

The babe was in Bethlehem just as they’d said.

All swaddled in cloth from his feet to his head.

And all were amazed when we told them our tale

Of Angel choirs singing and the savior we hail.

Now back on the hillside we’re tending our sheep

Where the nights are still cold, and the silence still deep.

But the moon on the breast of the new fallen snow

Yields a night not so dark for God’s children below.

For the Light of the World has come to the earth

To give all us sinners a new second birth.

Lord of Love. Prince of Peace. Emanuel’s here.

What chance now has evil when God is so near?

So shout the Good News from that hillside you’re on

Morning has broken, the darkness is gone!

Love has come! Peace to you! There’s no fear in sight.

Happy Christmas to all. What a wonderful night!