Here is a Christmas poem by G. K. Chesterton. Comments at the end.
The Pardon of Christmas
Roofed in with the snows of December
It returns, it is left to us yet
- —A day: with one day to remember.
—A day: with long days to forget.
Undeterred, recurring, soft-footed
It comes down o’er the world, as today,
To the work, unfulfilled, uncompleted,
The house where the builders delay.
It sinks from the stars and sits throned
On the roofs, as the angel of snow,
Watching pale, as the prophets are stoned
With the stones that were red long ago.
Though our evangel hedges and palters,
Though the earth-land be rooted in hate,
Though Caiaphas stand at our altar
And Lazarus gasp at our gate.
Though the gold still clings for our cursing,
It returns: it remains to us yet
- —A day, with one day to remember,
—A day with dark days to forget.
To forget eighteen centuries wasted
Thick squandered in madness and guilt,
With the wine of love standing half-tasted,
The city of promise half-built.
Join hands. Still we surely may gain it.
The King does redeem and renew.
O kings ye have lauded and slain it!
Ye have failed Him: and have we been true?
Ye have shackled and guarded the door,
Ye have hoarded the key in your grips.
Ye have taken the hope from the poor
And the word of God from his lips.
Ye have spat on and stricken the meek,
Ye have fenced in and rented his way.
Ye are red with the blood of the weak—
—Join hands; join hands for today.
Though church councils betray and out-vote Him;
Though His little ones gasp for our gain;
Though the rich, that cried “traitor” and smote Him
Cry “Holy”, and smite Him again.
We have all done the sin: we have spoiled Him,
Thorn-crowned Him, and mocked and defiled,
—Join hands, join hands—do it softly,
To-night He is glad, and a child.
I know this is a somber poem for a merry season. Yet I think that Christmas is both more serious and more joyful than we usually remember. It is the terribleness of the world, of our own sin, that makes Jesus’ coming so inexpressibly wonderful. The first Christmas is far away, but its promise, and our need, could not be closer. Christmas doesn’t come in spite of our failures and sins; it comes because of them. That our Savior is born is old news, but it is as good and joyful as on the day the angel proclaimed it.