One Night In Bethlehem: Christmas Poem - Cornerstone Church Kingston
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One Night In Bethlehem: Christmas Poem

December 18, 2023

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What are you doing, up in the dark?

Can’t you hear how the town dogs bark?
Something’s afoot out in the street…

Come back to bed and get some sleep!

There are sheep on the loose, down from the hill,
But I can’t see shepherds—

Are you peering still
Out of the window? I need to sleep!

Well, it looks like the shepherds have lost their sheep…

It’s not your problem. They must’ve got drunk.
They’re a pack of idiots—a brainless bunch!

Oh come on, you’re being too hard on them.
Sure, they’re not too bright, but they’re working men—

Hold on, though, now there’s something more,
A sort of light and a distant roar,
Not like a fire—more like the sun!
Over the roofs at the end of the lane.
Amazing! You just gotta come see this!

But it’s comfy in bed—can you come back, please?

That sound—is it shouting? But who can it be?
To be honest, it sounds like a whole army!

Yeah, right, the Romans are coming to town
‘Cos we’re just the place they’d wanna smash down!
It’s some folk having larks, for goodness sake,
And they just don’t care how they keep us awake!

If you’d only keep quiet, perhaps I could hear
What’s being said. That sounds like a cheer…
It sounds like shouts of praise to God…
“Glory to God”? Is that what’s being said?
Oh, and now the neighbours are going out;
They’ve been woken too by that massive shout.
Look, there’s the midwife; they’ve stopped to chat.
Perhaps she knows what the fuss is about.

Oh, great! So now the whole street is up!
Does no one in this town ever stop
To think that some people need to sleep?
It’s enough to make a grown-up weep!

Look, I know it’s dark and cold and late,
But we can’t just lie in bed and wait
Till it all goes quiet—we’re missing out!
I’m gonna go find what it’s all about.
Something’s going on that we can’t ignore…

Well, make sure you properly shut that door!

What time d’you call this? Where have you been?
I’ve not slept a wink while you were gone!

You’ll never guess what’s been going on?
This very night a baby’s been born

What?! Is that all you’ve got to say?
A baby’s been born? Like on any old day?

Yeah, but this one is different. I think he’s the one
That Isaiah promised—remember that song?
“For to us a child is born,
To us a son is given…”
You know how the prophecy goes
About the King who’ll come down from heaven.

And why exactly d’you think he’s come down
Right here and now to this nowhere town?

Well, I found those shepherds, and I also found out
That the sound we heard was a mighty shout
From a host of angels who had visited them
Out in the pastures round Bethlehem,
Who told them the news that Messiah has come—
Our Saviour’s been born—and there was a sign
To show it was true: a child wrapped in cloths
And laid in an animal’s feeding trough.
And that’s what they’d come into town to see,
And I saw it myself, as plain as can be.
The couple had come to register here—
They’re from King David’s family, that’s quite clear—
But they had amazing stories too,
Ones you would hardly believe were true,
Like, the mother’s a virgin! The baby came
After an angel had been to her home
And told her God’s Spirit would cause her to bear
The baby that right now is lying there!
And the husband, of course, he didn’t believe
That that was the way that his wife had conceived,
But then an angel came in a dream
And told the husband exactly the same!

Hold on a moment, let’s get this straight:
You’re telling me that this child born tonight
Is the greatest person who’s ever been,
The Prince of Peace, King David’s son,
Who will rule the nations for evermore,
And he’s been born here on some back-street floor?
To some woman and man we don’t even know
Who’ve been up to no good, and there’s nothing to show
That he might be a king, let alone the one
That’s been promised to us for so, so long?
It’s insane, that’s what it is, and you’re mad
To think it’s true. Yes, you’ve really been had!
Someone’s playing a trick or some fancy game
Or they’ve all got sloshed—it’s those shepherds I blame!

Why don’t you come with me? We could go see
That the angels were speaking accurately.
If you’d only come, I know you’d feel
That of anything, this is best and most real!
There’s nothing greater could happen here.
Why won’t you come see? What is it you fear?

Look, I can’t stay here. I’ve got to go out.
There are others to tell; there’s good news to shout.
I want to go out and look at the stars
And talk to the shepherds and spread the news,
And go back again to see him once more,
And speak to the couple and kneel on the floor,
And… yes, worship him—that’s the right word, I’m sure.
So I’m going to ask you now, once more:
Will you come with me? Will you come and see
The greatest King there can ever be?