Matney: The sparrows and the baby
For my column today, I’ll not do much original writing but share excerpts from two of my favorite Christmas stories. Some of you will recognize them. The first one was told by Paul Harvey and the second one was written by Max Lucado.
’The Man and the Birds’ by Paul Harvey
Now the man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind, decent, mostly good man. But he just didn’t believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmastime. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus story, about God coming to Earth as a man. “I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.”
Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. 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 to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They’d been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.
Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.
He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open 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 shooing them into the barn. Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.
And then, he realized, that they were afraid of him. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me. That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? “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. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand.
“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.”
The Christmas story tells us that God did become one of us and came into the world as a human baby. John 1:1,14 reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” God remained fully God and became fully human. He walked in our shoes, felt our pain and understood our fears, etc. Max Lucado tells the story of the incarnation in “God Came Near.”
’God Came Near’ by Max Lucado
“He who was larger than the universe became an embryo. The light of the universe entered a dark womb. He whom angels worship nestled Himself in the placenta of a peasant. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl. God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The creator of life being created. God was given eyebrows, elbows, two kidneys, and a spleen. He stretched against the walls and floated in the amniotic fluids of his mother. God had come near.”
Luke 2:7 says, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Max Lucado: “All of God was in the infant. Mary didn’t know whether to give Him milk or give Him praise, but she gave Him both since He was, as near as she could figure, hungry and holy. Joseph didn’t know whether to call Him Junior or Father. But in the end called Him Jesus, since that’s what the angel had said and since he didn’t have the faintest idea what to name a God he could cradle in his arms. Angels watched as Mary changed God’s diaper. The universe watched with wonder as The Almighty learned to walk. Don’t you think their heads tilted and their minds wondered, ’What in the world are You doing, God?’ Or better phrased, ’God, what are you doing in the world?’”
I am deeply touched by the thought that an all-powerful God loved me so much he was willing to humble himself and come to earth as a baby, grow into an adult, and give his life for me so that I could be forgiven of my sins and live with him forever. This is the glad tidings of Christmas!
Dan Matney is the pastor at New Life Assembly of God in Avon. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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