Monday, December 5, 2011

A CHRISTMAS STORY

There was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays, like Christmas. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.

One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused. "That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home.

A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet.

When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and could not go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.

The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It is warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. But the geese just fluttered around aimlessly and did not seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them.

The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a breadcrumbs trail leading to the barn. They still didn't catch on. Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.

"Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human. "If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud. Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn -- and one by one the other geese followed it to safety.

He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind: "If only I were a goose, then I could save them!" Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!" Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese -- blind, lost, perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us. That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized. As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come. Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer:

"Thank You Jesus for coming in human form to show me the way out of the storm!"


By David L. Griffith
Thanks to Mark at Facebook and to Nij in the comments here for a shorter version.

13 comments:

  1. I love this story and have tweeted it and pinched it for facebook (as yours, of course). Thank-you Grandmère Mimi

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  2. Laura, thanks for sharing. It's a lovely story.

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  3. There's a lovely 1996 movie, Fly Away Home, about a young girl who "discovers a nest of goose eggs that were abandoned when developers began tearing up a local forest. The eggs hatch and Amy becomes 'Mama Goose.' The young birds must fly south for the winter, but who will lead them?" [IMDb] Amy and her dad get the job done by flying along with the birds in a pair of ultralight aircraft.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116329/

    I think this story makes your point better than the contrived, sentimental sermon illustration you posted, which seems to me to reflect understanding of neither geese nor human beings. (What happens to the geese after the convert's sudden epiphany? They're still out in the storm. As is the convert.)

    I know you post for the choir, Grandmère, but usually helpfully enough to keep a few cynics sitting near the door . . .

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  4. Murdoch, I post mainly for myself in the hope that others find my posts of interest. Occasionally, I post for a specific reader.

    Material that's sent to me, I usually post unchanged. My blog, such as it is, takes quite a bit of my time, and I'm grateful for the copy and paste submissions.

    Thanks for serving as one of my resident cynics. I will have a look at your link.

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  5. MM, I saw that movie and couldn't get past the fact that the geese that were supposed to be following the ultralight were not actually real. . .

    The Geese in Mimi's story were not out in the storm. They had followed one of the man's geese into the barn.

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  6. The Christmas story is a parable, and I don't think it is overly sentimental. Some might say that Jesus' parable of the lost sheep is sentimental, but it works.

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  7. Susan, CGI often leaves me cold, too. (All those soldiers in Lord of the Rings and Troy! A few hundred would have done, not thousands.) But Fly Away Home was based on reality: "The film was loosely based on the real-life experiences of Bill Lishman, a Canadian inventor, artist, and ultralight aircraft hobbyist. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Lishman wondered whether geese and similar birds could be taught new migration patterns by following ultralight aircraft onto which they had been imprinted. In 1993, after several years of logistical and bureaucratic setbacks, Lishman successfully led a flock of Canada Geese on a winter migration from Ontario, Canada, to northern Virginia, United States." (Wikipedia) I can't imagine the logistics of a film crew actually shadowing the flight of a flock of geese and a light-wing aircraft.

    Okay, the geese got into the barn. We won't press the analogy to wonder what the barn represents in contemporary Christianity.

    Fly Away Home remains for me the movie that Mother never saw. During a visit with her in Tulsa, we set out for the theater when she tripped over a footstool in her apartment. We spent the afternoon looking for an optician to repair her bent glasses. Gary and I own the DVD of the film, in her memory.

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  8. Murdoch, I wish your mother's story had a happier ending, but that you and Gary keep the DVD in her memory is a lovely story.

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  9. believe me it has Preached! a few times. Grandmere Mimi you are so welcome.

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