December 2018 -January 2018
With the month of December upon us, we are now turning our attention to Christmas – a time of getting together, of offering gifts, and for the Church, the celebration of the birth of Jesus. One of the challenges for me is to think of something different to say every year. With that in mind I would like to share a story: it is my paraphrase of ‘The Man and the Birds’ by Paul Harvey. I hope it speaks for itself.
There was once a kind, decent, good, honest, generous man, but for him Christmas was always difficult as he just couldn’t believe the stuff about God coming as a baby into this world. It just didn’t make sense, and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. So on that Christmas night he told his wife that he could not go to Church with her. He said he’d feel like a hypocrite and that he’d prefer to stay at home and wait up. And so he remained while his family went to the midnight service.
Shortly after they drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later, he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another, and then another.
At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door, he found a flock of sparrows huddled in the snow. They’d been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large window. Knowing he couldn’t let the birds lie there and freeze, he quickly put on his coat and boots and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn: that would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.
He opened the barn doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs and sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted, doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them; he tried shooing them in by walking around waving his arms. But instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.
And then, he realized, that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned,he was a strange and terrifying creature. If only he could think of some way to let them know that they could trust him – that he was not trying to hurt them, that he wanted to help them. But instead, any move he made tended to frighten and confuse them. They would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.
"If only I could be a bird,” he thought to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe, warm barn.”
At that moment, the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow. For the first time, he understood the meaning of Christmas.
The birth of the child in somewhat unpromising circumstances 2,000 years ago, was God’s best way to show his love for us – by being one of us.