Years ago my father shared with me Louis Cassels' "Parable of the Birds". Since that time it has become my custom to use the parable in our Christmas Eve Services; this year will be no different.
Cassels was Senior Editor for United Press International, wrote as their Religion Correspondent, and penned this parable in 1959. It has continued to be reprinted in papers around the world for almost forty years.
But he didn't believe all that stuff about God becoming man, which churches proclaim at Christmas. Why would God want to do anything like that?
So when his family left to attend midnight services on Christmas Eve, he stayed home.
Shortly after the family drove away snow began to fall. He went to the window and watched the flurries getting heavier and heavier. Sometime later, as he was reading his newspaper by the fire, he was startled by a thudding sound that was quickly followed by another. Then another.
When he went to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm, and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through the window.
"I can't let these poor creatures lie there and freeze," he thought. "But how can I help them?"
Then he remembered the barn. It would provide a warm shelter. 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.
But the birds didn't come in.
"Food will bring them in," he thought. So he hurried back to the house for bread crumbs, which he sprinkled on the snow to make a trail into the barn.
To his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. They scattered in every direction -- except into the warm, lighted barn.
"They find me a strange and terrifying creature," he said to himself, "and I can't seem to think of any way to let them know they can trust me."
"If only I could be a bird myself for a few minutes, perhaps I could lead them to safety."
Just at that moment the church bells began to ring. He stood silently for awhile, listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas.
Then he sank to his knees in the snow. "Now I understand," he whispered. "Now I see why You had to do it."