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 the 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 as his custom was, he refused.
“That story is nonsense” he simply replied. “Why would God lower Himself to come to earth as a man? That’s ridiculous!”
So she and the children left for church and he stayed home. A little later the wind grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out of the window all he saw was a blinding snowstorm.
As he sat in front of his fire he heard a thump when something hit the side of his farmhouse.
He looked out but could see only a few feet.
When the snow let up a little he ventured outside to see what could have hit his house. In the field near his house he discovered an entire flock of wild geese.
Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm. They were lost and stranded on his farm with no food and no shelter from this terrible snowstorm.
They continued to flap their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had apparently flown into his house and lay stunned on the ground.
The man felt sorry for the poor 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 in the shelter of his old barn.
He got his winter clothes on and walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open doors.
But, the geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn’t seem to notice this safe haven.
The farmer tried to get their attention, but his efforts only scared them and they moved further away.
He went into the barn and came back out with a sack of grain, he scattered the grain and made a trail leading to the barn.
They still didn’t catch on and he was getting very frustrated.
He got behind them and tried to “shoo” them towards the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except towards the barn.
Nothing he did could get them to follow him into the barn where they would be warm and safe.
“Why don’t they follow me?” 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 his barn, got one of his own geese and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese.
When he got to the other side of the field he released it.
Immediately, his goose flew through the wild flock and straight into the barn, and one by one the wild geese followed it to safety.
The farmer 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 come to earth and be like us?” Suddenly it all made sense.
That is what God had done. We were like the geese, blind, lost, perishing.
God had His Son come as one of us so He could show us the way to safety. He realized that is the meaning of Christmas.
As the wind 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 just like the passing storm.
He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer: “Thank you God for coming in human form to get me out of the storm.”
May you all have a blessed and peaceful Christmas,
The Rt. Rev. David M. Irving is the minister at St. Stephen Anglican Church.
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