‘Twas the night before Christmas
and in every room
is a person connecting
to worship by ZOOM.

The children are nestled
in bed with their screens,
with hopes that St. Nick
will come in their dreams.

They’ve ordered their presents
from websites this time
to help the old elf
use Amazon Prime.

There’s Ma in the meeting
with a question to ask.
“When I sing the old carols,
should I take off my mask?”

And Pa in his shirt,
with a coat and a tie,
wearing sweatpants below,
so no one should spy!

“You’re muted,” says the host
to Grandma. “Am I seen?”
She asks, “Is this video?
And what is “share screen”?

Still, the stockings are hung
by the chimney with care,
and the pageant recorded
on YouTube to share.

There are angels in bedsheets,
colored lights all aglow,
and shepherds with sheep
by a barn, in the snow.

They run to the manger,
with some pushing and shoving,
to see the wee Babe
who redefines loving.

In time, He will tell us,
“Give yourself to the least.
Find the lost, lift the last,
invite all to the feast.

Raise the valley, lower mountains,
make the Way smooth for all.
Share your treasure, give your coat,
free the captive, heed the call.”

What a year we are having—
2020… Are you done?
In this annus horribilis
People fighting… where’s the fun?

We are distanced from each other,
hardly daring to meet,
to protect the most likely
on the margins, the weak.

Ah this wretched COVID-19
all the suffering, neighbors lost
hundreds, thousands who are dying,
and our spirits: tempests tossed.

So we’re thankful for heroes
who make up the front line:
doctors, nurses, drivers, teachers,
EMT’s, who are a sign

That together we’re stronger,
thank you truckers, cleaners, aides.
Thank you singers, painters, dancers
for the beauty you’ve made.

And we’re thankful for faces
that shine through the screens,
the bonds we are making,
the new community we’ve seen.

Forget the Grinch who has tried
to keep Christmas away,
God’s “Yes” is much bigger
than any “No” we can say.

For Christmas can come
without boxes or bows.
It comes without packages
parties or shows.

For it comes any time
that you let yourself see
that God will be born
in the big and the wee.

For if He can be with us
in the weak and the lost
and is willing to love us
no matter the cost.

Then there is no person
no place and no sorrow,
no night that is angry,
no fearsome tomorrow,

Where God is not present,
where hope does not stir,
where love cannot conquer
the fear we aver.

Even death has been vanquished
by this Love everlasting,
which triumphs by giving,
surrender surpassing.

So no wonder the angels
can’t silence their shouts:
Hallelujah! Glory be!
Fa la la! Or thereabouts.

So merry, merry Christmas!
Jingle Bells! Deck the halls!
Strike the harp, join the chorus
From the mountain, tell it all.

That God has come to join us,
pleased as man with us to dwell,
this Jesus, son of Mary,
brother, friend, Emmanuel.