If Only

God born in a manager. That beautiful story escapes some people. More than likely it does so because they seek such complex answers to their questions. And this one is so utterly simple. So, for the cynics the skeptics and the unconvinced I submit to you a modern day parable.

This is about a modern man, one of us. No, he was not a Scrooge, but a kind, decent, mostly good man. He was generous to his family, and upright with his dealings with other men. And now he was looking forward to another Christmas season. However, he did not believe in what he termed "all that incarnation stuff" which churches proclaim at Christmas time. "It just did not make sense" and he was honest. In his mind too honest to pretend otherwise. He just could not swallow "that Jesus Story". The one about God coming to earth as man.

On Christmas Eve, he told his wife, "I hate to disappoint you, but I just can not go to church with you tonight." He said he would feel like a hypocrite, that he had much rather stay home, but that he would wait up for them. So he stayed at home and off the family went to church. Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier, he then went back to his fireside chair and began to read the newspaper.

Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound, then another and another. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against the living room window, but when he went to the door to investigate, he found a flock of birds floundering miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter they had tried to fly through the large picture window. Well, he could not let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, then he remembered the barn where his children kept their pony. That would provide a warm shelter if he could direct the birds to it. So he quickly put on a coat, his galoshes and trampled through the deepening snow to the barn.

Once there he opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds only ignored it. They would not come in. He figured food would entice them in, and 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 crumbs they just continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them, he tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and furiously waving his arms. Instead they scattered in every direction except into the warm lighted barn.

Suddenly he realized they were afraid of him, to them I'm a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of someway to let them know they can trust me so they'd understand that I'm not trying to hurt them, but to help them. How? Any move he made only serve to scare them and confuse them, they just would not follow. They could not be lead or shooed because they feared him.

If only I could be a bird myself, he thought. If only I could be a bird and mingle with them and speak their language and tell them not to be afraid and show them the way to the warm and safe barn. But, I'd have to be one of them so they could see and hear and understand.

At that moment the church bells began to ring. The bells were ringing so loud that the sound reached his ears above the sounds of the cold night wind. He stood there listening to those bells: Adeste Fidelis. Listening to the bells pealing their glad tidings of Christmas. And thinking about the good news he understood.

And this man sank to his knees in the snow.