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We print an Orthodox priest's reworking of an unknown author's adaptation of the classic Christmas poem, 'Twas the Night before Christmas.

'Twas the night before Jesus came, and all through the house, 
not a creature was praying ­ no one in the house!

Our Bibles lay on shelves without care
our icons, in dim corners, gathered dust there.

The children were dressed to crawl into bed,
but they did not kneel, nor bow down their small head.

My wife, in her rocker, with babe on her lap,
was watching a late show, while I took a nap.

Then out of the East there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter!

Away to the window I flew in a flash;
tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash!

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but angels proclaiming that Jesus was near!

With light like the sun sending forth its bright ray,
I knew in an instant ­ This must be the day!

The light of His Face made me cover my head.
It was Jesus returning, just like He said!

And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him, in spite of myself!

The Coming of Jesus, it was now here,
and my lifestyle was one I'm not proud of, I fear!

Here was the moment of God's final call,
my time for Judgement was here after all.

He spoke not a word, as He searched for my name,
When He said, "It's not here," my head hung with shame.

The people whose names had been written in love
He gathered to take to His Father above.

With those who were ready, He rose without sound,
while the rest of us were left standing around.

I fell to my knees, but it was too late,
I had waited too long, and thus sealed my fate.

I stood, and I cried, as they rose out of sight,
Oh, if only I had been ready tonight!

Then heard I the twelve tolls of the bell
And heard ­ they were close ­ the groanings of Hell.

Just then I awoke from my nightmare bleak
and rejoiced in the knowledge: the Feast's in a week!

I've time to repent, and change fallen way,
and meet the Lord joyously on Christmas Day!

January, 1995

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