Summary: This was a devotional / sermon that I shared at our annual Christmas Banquet. It is a great outreach opportunity so the message is focused on explaining what Christmas is really all about.
Christmas Banquet Devotional – December 2, 2012
Good evening everyone! I want to take a few minutes tonight and to share with you two stories – one about a grown man and one about a tiny infant. The first story is told by radio commentator Paul Harvey. The second is written by God Himself and yet the two stories are irrevocably tied together.
The man in the first story, “The man I’m talking about, was not a scrooge now, he was a kind, decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men, but he just did not believe in 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 could not swallow the Jesus story about God coming to earth as man.
He told his wife, “I’m truly sorry to distress you, but I’m just not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.” He said he’d feel like a, “hypocrite.” That he would much rather just stay home, but that he would wait up for them. So he stayed and they went to the midnight service.
Now, 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, then he went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. And then another and then yet another. At first he thought somebody 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 out there, miserably, in the snow. They had been caught in the storm. In a desperate search for shelter they had tried to fly through his large, landscape, window. That was what had been making the sound!
Well, he couldn’t let those poor creatures just lie there and freeze. So he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter – all he would have to do is direct the birds into that shelter.
Quickly he put on a coat and galoshes, and he tramped through the deepening snow to the barn, and he opened the doors wide, and inside the barn he turned on a light so the birds would know the way in.
But the birds did not come in. So he figured that food would entice them. He went back to the house and fetched some bread crumbs, and sprinkled those on the snow making a trail of bread crumbs to the yellow lighted, wide open, doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs.
The birds just continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them – he could not. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms – but instead they scattered in every direction – every direction except into the warm, lighted barn.
And that’s when he realized that they were afraid of him. They were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange, terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know they can trust me; that I’m not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Any move he made tended to frighten them and confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led, or shooed, because they feared him. And he thought to himself, “If only I could be a bird now, I could be a bird and mingle with them, and speak their language, and tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe, warm barn. But I would have to be one of them, wouldn’t I, 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. Adeste Fideles. Listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow. (Paul Harvey)
I think we’ll leave that man kneeling in the snow for just a while as we listen to our second story of the evening – though calling it a “story” does it an injustice. What I’m about to read to you is history being lived out. It comes to us from the pages of the Bible and it’s a story we read every Christmas Eve in our home as I was growing up. When we were old enough, my sister and I would take turns reading that story out loud for the whole family as we sat around the fireplace before bedtime.