Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Parable of the Birds

I have heard this parable before but didn't know the source nor did I have a copy of it to share.  This morning I received the following in an email message.  Enjoy!

"Parable of the Birds"

For as many years as I can remember, I've enjoyed Paul Harvey's annual Christmas broadcast on which he retells the "Parable of the Birds." It's an excellent illustration of why God sent His Son to earth – what we celebrate at Christmastime.

The modern parable apparently originated with the late Louis Cassels, who was, for many years, the religion editor for United Press International, and first appeared in his weekly column in 1959 in more than four hundred newspapers.

The parable has been told and retold countless times over the years since, and I found several versions of it on the web. So I've taken the liberty of combining some of the best elements of each and adding some embellishments of my own to this timeless tale.

Here, then, is our adaptation of the "Parable of the Birds."

This is a story about a modern man, one of us. He was not a Scrooge. He was a kind, decent, mostly good man, generous to his family, upright in his dealings with others. But he did not believe in all that incarnation stuff that the churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just didn't make sense to him and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just could not swallow the Jesus story about God coming to earth as a man.

Now it was Christmas eve and the family was getting ready for church. "I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this evening." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. Rather, he would stay home while they went. But, he promised, he would wait up for them. So, he stayed and they went.

Shortly after the rest of his family drove away, snow began to fall. He went to the window and watched the flurries getting heavier and heavier. It was one of those picture-postcard winter evenings. So he walked back to his comfortable fireside chair and began reading his newspaper.

Soon, though, his leisure was abruptly interrupted. He was startled by a loud "thud," quickly followed by another. And then another. "What could that be?"

At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to investigate, he found a pitiful flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm, and in a desperate search for shelter they had tried to fly through his large picture window.

"I can't let these poor creatures lie there and freeze," he thought. He was, after all, a reasonably compassionate man. "But how could I possibly help them?"

Then he remembered the barn out back where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter — if only he could direct the birds to it. He quickly put on his coat and boots and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on the light to show the poor birds the way.

But the birds didn't come in.

"Food will bring them in," he thought. So he hurried back to the house and fetched bread crumbs, which he hastily sprinkled on the snow to make a trail from near where the birds were into the safety of the barn.

But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. None of that worked. Instead they scattered in every direction — except into the protection of the warm, lighted barn.

"They find me a strange and terrifying creature," he said to himself. "If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me. If only I could convince them... If only I could show them that I'm not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how?" Any move he made tended to frighten the birds, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

In frustration and with a growing sense of urgency as the storm and the birds' plight worsened, an odd thought came to him: "If only I could be a bird myself for a few minutes, perhaps I could lead them to safety. If only I could mingle with them and speak their language, and tell them not to be afraid, and show them the way to the safe, warm barn. But I'd have to be one of them, so they could see and hear and understand and not be afraid."

At that moment the sound of church bells pierced the frigid night, reaching the man's ears clearly even above the sound of the howling winter winds. He stood there, suddenly awestruck, listening to the pealing of the bells and their age-old message. Joy To The World. Oh Holy Night. Away In A Manger. These were all Christmas carols he had heard since childhood. But they had never before affected him in the way they now did.

Then, there in the snow, he sank to his knees, gazed heavenward and, choked with emotion, whispered, "Now I understand. Now I see why you had to do it."

"In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him... And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world." (1 John 4:9,14.)

Jesus said, "For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." (John 18:37.)

- Paul

Thanks to Sharon Daniels for sharing!

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That was good! Thanks for sharing. :)