My favorite Christmas Story is, well, the Christmas Story, but I’d like to take a moment to share my 2nd favorite Christmas Story with you. I've only heard it one time - about 12 or 13 years ago – as it was told by the now retired Pastor Ronald Fink during a Christmas Eve candlelight service held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Orlando, FL. If you’ve never heard it before, I hope it blesses you as much as it did me. If you have heard it before, please forgive me if the retelling is less than perfect; all I can do is write it the way I remember it. If you do like it, please feel free to share it as much as you wish; a story has no value if no one hears it, and this one doesn’t belong to me anyway.
The story is about a man who doesn’t believe in Christmas, and he doesn’t believe in Christmas because he doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ. It’s not that the man has a hard heart, it’s just that he’s given this a lot of thought, and the whole concept of an "all-mighty, all-powerful" God sending His Son to earth in the form of a man (and wasn’t that convenient) just didn’t make any sense at all. If there really was a God, he thought, and He really was all-mighty and all-powerful, why would he do something like that? It just didn’t make any sense. If God really did exist, He could have just opened up the heavens Himself and told us directly what He wanted us to know. The whole “Jesus thing” was just too ridiculous and convoluted, and since it didn’t make any sense to him, he had long ago decided that Jesus was just a fantasy created by mankind to give ourselves hope when there really wasn’t any hope at all.
And so, as yet another Christmas Eve came upon him, the man did again what he did every year; he went out to a party at a friend’s house and enjoyed some good company and holiday cheer. He arrived back home at around 11:30 that night, and he was glad that he did, because it had just started snowing as he pulled into the driveway and he was thankful that he had gotten home before the roads turned treacherous.
He went inside his house and started going about the business of preparing to turn in for the night when all of a sudden he heard a loud thump! He paused for a moment and then heard it again: thump! Curious, he started walking through the house, looking for the source of the strange noise. Upon entering his living room, he heard it again – thump! – and he could instantly tell that something had just hit the large plate-glass window facing out to his front yard.
Thinking that there might be some teenagers roaming the streets throwing snowballs at his window, the man rushed outside, intent on giving them a piece of his mind. But as he made his way out the door and into the front yard, he immediately noticed two things: The first thing he noticed was that the snowfall had gotten much, much heavier; heavier in fact than he had ever seen in his entire life. Huge snowflakes were literally cascading down from above, and the night was alive with intense motion and yet eerily quiet at the same time.
The second thing he noticed was that there were no kids in his front yard throwing snowballs; instead, there was a flock of birds, and even as the man stood there watching, he suddenly saw two of the birds shoot away from the others and slam into the plate-glass window on the front of his house - thump!, thump! – hitting it so hard that their bodies fell dead to the ground below.
The man instantly knew what was going on. The birds - confused and frightened by the heavy, swirling snow - were fluttering and flying around in a panic, and they could see right inside his house to a place of light and shelter, and they were trying to get inside. But what they didn’t know – what they could never know – was that no matter how hard they tried, they would never be able to get in through the glass.
Thump! Thump! Thump! Three more of the birds slammed into the glass and fell lifeless to the ground.
Now, the man didn’t believe in God or Jesus Christ, but he wasn’t a bad man; he had a good heart, and it crushed him to see what was happening before his very eyes, and he was determined to put a stop to it.
He quickly ran back inside his house and turned off all of the lights, thinking that if the birds couldn’t see inside, they would stop killing themselves trying to get in. But even though the birds could no longer see inside, the now darkened window still held the appearance of shelter – a cave opening, perhaps – and the birds continued to fly into the glass, and their bodies continued to pile up in the snow underneath.
The man then ran to his garage – only 30 feet away - and threw open the door to give the birds a real place of shelter that they could enter without harm. But the birds just continued to fly into the window. Kicking himself, the man ran back into the garage and turned on the lights. Now, he thought, they’ll be able to see that the shelter they need is right over here. But the birds were so focused and intent on getting through the window that they simply didn’t see him at all.
Thump! Thump! Thump!
Becoming increasingly panicked himself, the man started shouting at the birds. “Hey! Over here! Over here!”, he yelled, trying to get their attention. But still, the birds did not come.
Finally, the man rushed out right into the remains of the flock, yelling and shouting and waving his arms, trying to herd what birds were left towards the garage. But if the birds had been confused and frightened before, they were now absolutely terrified at this new apparition in their midst, and faster than ever, they hurtled themselves into the glass: Thump! Thump! Thump! Thump!
Not knowing what else he could do, the man stood there in the cold darkness, snow falling all around, and watched the birds die one by one. With helpless tears flowing down his face he thought to himself, “If only I could be a bird for just a few minutes . . . I could talk to them in their own language – they wouldn’t be afraid of me; they would understand me, and I could tell them what they needed to do to save themselves.”
At that very moment the man heard bells begin to ring; It was midnight, and church bells throughout the town were ringing to usher in Christmas morning, this day set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
And as he stood there he thought about what had just happened, and about the words that he had just said to himself, and all of a sudden, the concept of an all-mighty, all-powerful God sending His Son to earth to be with us - to be one of us - for just a little while, didn’t seem like such a crazy idea after all.