‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in the Middle East

Years ago, when Trudi and I lived in the Middle East, I wrote a prayer letter employing the poetic structure of “The Night Before Christmas.”  I share it with you on this Christmas Eve.

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through our house

Not a creature was stirring, ‘cept Trudi my spouse

She stirred in some eggs, some sugar and flour

She whipped up a cake in half an hour

We flew down the stairs and we hailed a car

Threw in fifteen songbooks and an Ovation guitar

Off to a gathering to celebrate birth

Of Jesus, the Christ child, and peace on the earth

The door opened wide, kisses greeted our lip’pers

We slipped off our shoes and slid into some slippers

We all sipped some “çay,” which in our language means “tea”

For a Christmas out here is quite different, you see

No Santas or reindeer, no eggnog or punch

No last minute shopping instead of your lunch

No churches with chairs, no holiday bliss

A “land filled with ‘winter’ but never Christmas”

But this day for us who in Jesus believe

Is bigger than USA’s Christmas Eve

For Jesus was born in a stable of beasts

A land much like ours in the Middle East

No holly or mistletoe, drummer boys drumming

No shopping mall music greeted his coming

Just the whimpering cries of a world bound in sin

Just the calls from the door, “No room in the inn.”

No lights or popcorn or a Christmas tree star

Just the light of the gospel in the local bazaar

His coming brought joy to a world crying out

His birth shined in darkness, dispelled every doubt

Near Eastern Christians, far away from the fluff

Have grasped the true meaning of the significant stuff

Our songs on the night we remember his advent

Fill us with wonder and love and amazement

There’s nothing to turn our eyes from the sight

Of an incarnate Jesus on this Holy Night

The munchies forgotten…the cookies and teas

Our eyes fill with tears and we drop to our knees

So if you feel sorry and sad that we’re missing

The big Christmas dinner and mistletoe kissing

Remember God called us, and if you’ll allow

Christmas means so much more to us now


Merry Christmas to all those we love from

your brothers and sisters in a land where it is

“‘always winter’ and never Christmas”

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