Two Stories – December 27, 2015

Two Stories

Isaiah 9:2-7 Luke 2:1-20


We have been blessed to once again hear the stories of prophecy and of the birth of a babe who was God in the flesh…our savior…our path to eternal life. To close out our Christmas season of celebration I want to share two more brief stories…perhaps you’ve heard them already. Stories that answer the questions…why…and what can we expect. The first story came to us from Paul Harvey. The man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn’t believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn’t make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. 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.” He said he’d feel like a hypocrite. That he’d much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service. 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 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. Sort of a thump or a thud…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. Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. 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 hurried back to the house, 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 catching them…He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms…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, I am a strange and terrifying creature. 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? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just 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…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 – – listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow. The second story was written by Mary Stevenson…in 1936…to share her experiences and thoughts on what we can expect from this savior. I first heard it at a performance of the Singing Christmas tree my first Christmas in Greenville. It brought tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart. It greatly helped push me forward on my Christian journey. Here’s her story: One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints…other times there was one set of footprints. This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish…sorrow…or defeat…I could see only one set of footprints. So I said to the Lord, “You promised me Lord, That if I followed you, You would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I need you most, you have not been there for me.! The Lord replied, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints is when I carried you.” Joy to the world. The Lord has come…has come to lead…to save…and to be with…you and me…at this time of joy…at times of hurt and pain. Truly there is joy to world…joy to you and me. As we put away the decorations and gifts…as friends and family depart from our annual reunions…let us not put away this good news nor depart from the babe born to lead and to save us. Instead let us be among those who cherish and share the good news daily…who…like Jesus… reach out to those seeking shelter from the storms of life…to those struggling as they walk through the sands of life… To those in our families…those in our church…and to our neighbors…around the corner and around the world.