Friday, December 23, 2005

A Christmas Classic Corrected...

A Visit from St. Nicholas

A sound broke my slumbers one cold winter’s dawn —
Grief-laden sobs and sighs deeply drawn.
I rose from my bed and searched for the sound.
In a chair by the tree, a stranger I found.
With white hair and beard, and eyes long turned red —
His cheeks glistened wet with the tears he had shed.

“Who are you?” I asked, though somehow I knew.
The things all around him gave me a clue.
Stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
And Christmas cards spilled on the floor by the chair.
My red Santa hat had been thrown at the tree
And Rudolph and Frosty played on TV.
The “spirit of Christmas” filled up the room
But reindeer and tinsel only deepened his gloom.

This had to be Nicholas — his beard left no doubt —
But what brought this on I couldn’t make out.
His red suit was missing, and where was his sleigh?
And why was he here on the wrong winter’s day?
No jelly-bowl belly and no “Ho, ho, ho!”
Something was wrong, and I just had to know.

So “Nicholas,” I asked him, “what’s up with the tears?
They’re hardly a symbol of holiday cheer!
You’re not looking much like a ‘jolly old elf’ —
This morning, it seems, you’re just not yourself.”

He lifted his gaze and the tears left his eyes.
A rage seemed to come as he started to rise.
“My ‘self’ is the problem since someone took me
And made me a someone I never would be.
I came here to visit and saw what you’ve done:
You’ve made me a rival to God’s only Son!”

“The children I’ve asked — they all knew my name.
But Jesus their Savior — none cared that he came.
These stories and specials and movies and songs —
They’re all about me — and that’s simply wrong.
It’s Christ you should think of and worship and praise —
Go to the manger and ponder and gaze.
Forget about me and look to your Savior —
The very best gift of God’s loving favor.”

“How could you do this? How dare you distract
The children’s young minds from this wonderful fact?
A babe born for sinners — what wonder, what joy! —
Please focus their thoughts on God’s little boy!”

“I cried since my giving of gifts had been changed
from a service of love to a practice … deranged.
I’m glad to be seen as a figure of love
But I will not compete with God’s Son from above.”

“I wept most of all when I saw I’d been made
A reason to make little children afraid!
To punish and frighten the ones that keep sinning?
Oh, how that must keep the old Serpent grinning!
Christmas is gospel — grace freely given;
Trust in the Lord and sins are forgiven.”

“So don’t use my name to threaten or plead
The gospel of Christ is just what you need
To change your dear children from naughty to nice
And give them their place in God’s paradise.
Forget me, I beg, if I get in the way
Of Christ and his coming that first Christmas Day.”

The darkness was lifting as light filled the room
And Nicholas faded, along with his gloom.
He’d freely confessed, and did not deny
His place as a servant of Christ crucified.

A dream or a vision? I couldn’t quite tell.
But he’d corrected my Christmas and broken the spell.
And back to my slumbers I slowly returned
And dreamt of the Baby whose story I’d spurned.

Since then the Santas and reindeer are gone
From my mantel, my window, my roof and my lawn.
Instead there’s a manger scene down by the way —
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay —
It’s part of my witness to God’s saving grace
And Nicholas is happy to give Christ his place.

-- Copyright 2005 -- Rev. Jeffrey L. Samelson
Christ Lutheran Church (WELS)
Clarksville/Columbia, Maryland

No comments: