The announcement of the angels at the first Christmas proclaimed “peace on earth.” 2,000 years later, most of us would find the word “peace” low on our list of adjectives to describe the Christmas season. Instead, we would choose words like “rushed,” “overscheduled,” “full,” and “expensive.”
A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to speak at Westmont’s chapel service in the early days of December and found that the campus was mostly devoid of peace, as well. The crush of impending finals, travel arrangements, and spring semester registration added up to a sense of manic desperation in the student community.
As I reflected on all that I saw around me and what Christmas had become, I thought back to the announcement of the angels in Luke 2 and the irony of our present experience of the holiday. I decided to speak in chapel on the topic of “peace,” and wrote the following poem to not only start my talk, but also to humorously describe some of what I saw and experienced around me. Hope you enjoy it.
‘Twas a week before Christmas and down at the mall,
People were rushing to purchase it all.
Some clothing, some toys or the newest Rock Band,
Each shopper, it seemed, had their prize tight in hand.
A Christian was shopping, though not glad about it,
And his frown sent the message, should anyone doubt it.
This mall with its Santa and glib decorations,
But no mention of Jesus, an abomination.
Although quite appalled by this spiritual plight,
He came into this place prepared for the fight.
The Bible he grasped, he could turn to Luke 2,
Faster than workers could ask, “How are you?”
But the Bible remained snugly stuffed in his pocket,
As he looked for the store with the fancy toy rocket.
His grandson had gotten swept up in it all,
And had asked for the shiniest toy in the mall.
The man thought the prior year’s gift had been great,
A red homemade sweatshirt for his grandson of eight.
With bright-colored words that were true Christmas themed,
“Jesus is better than Santa,” they screamed.
But this year, the grandfather trudged to the store,
A temple of worship to Mammon, no more.
He would find what he needed and rush home again,
Not wasting his time in Beelzebub’s den.
Once in the toy store, the heart of it all,
He glared at the shelves filled with signs of the fall.
There was Batman and Barbie, and Lego, as well,
From Disney and Hasbro, Fisher-Price and Mattel.
Past Diego and Dora, and one sing-songy elf,
The old man scoured every inch of each shelf.
At last with the rocket, he went to the cashier,
His mood spreading a new kind of Christmas-y cheer.
The price for the item came up right away.
The rocket would cost more than he’d like to pay.
But he reached in the pocket where his Bible was stashed,
And got an idea as he pulled out some cash.
“What’s the real meaning of Christmas?” the man asked with intention,
But the kid at the counter wasn’t paying attention.
So the man changed his tactic, he would not be shut out,
“It’s all about Jesus!” he proclaimed with a shout.
People looked his direction from every toy aisle,
And inside, not outside, the man had to smile.
His message had gone out, indeed it reached many,
This rocket, it seemed, would be worth every penny.
But the worker had orders that he had to follow,
So he steeled his nerves, and took a hard swallow.
“Happy Holidays,” he said. O, what would the man do?
He grabbed the rocket and left, shouting, “I’ll pray for you!”
The man raced to his home, straight to his PC,
And crafted an email for the whole church to see.
In all caps and red letters he told them the story,
How some punk teenage kid stole the Christ child’s glory.
Each one of his contacts received the email,
And soon everybody was discussing the tale.
In light of the young man’s outrageous offense,
The church has boycotted the mall ever since.
Now the man sits at home by the fire’s warm roar,
And he thinks of his Christmas time trip to the store.
He opens Luke 2 and re-reads of the birth,
And smiles at his efforts to spread peace on earth.