A farmer and his family up north were preparing to head out to the Christmas Eve service. They’d have to navigate their way to church through a snowstorm. The snow had been falling since morning. Now, with night falling, the snow was deep and the air colder.
As the family dressed for church, the farmer pushed his way out to the barn to check on the livestock. He was surprised to see several small birds fluttering around the big door into the barn. Strange to see birds around here this time of year, he thought. The birds had probably been blown off course by the storm as they tried to fly south.
Well, the farmer thought that he’d open the barn door and coax the birds inside where they would be safe from the storm.
So he pushed the big barn door open. But when he did so, the birds fluttered away and sat on the fence, because they were frightened by him. He stood just inside the door, trying to speak to the birds, trying to coax them in the barn. But of course the birds couldn’t understand him and they kept their distance, watching him from the fence.
The farmer grabbed some grain from the cow stall and tossed it toward the birds to get their attention. Then he made a path of grain from the door toward the fence. He hoped that the birds would see the grain and, kernel by kernel, hop their way back toward the barn.
But no such luck. Though the birds were obviously freezing, they did not risk hopping toward the warmth of the barn, fearful of the farmer.
He had tried everything he could think of. In frustration he thought to himself, “If only I could become one of them. They would surely respond to another bird and come into the safety of the barn. If only…”
At that moment he heard the bells of the little church in the village, calling people to worship, telling the world about a God who loved us so much that God came to us as one of us.¹
Charles Anderson writes, “Well, more often than not, that’s what we need, love to come down. We need a higher perspective that sees things about us that we cannot see ourselves. We need a higher wisdom that knows things about life that we don’t understand ourselves. And certainly, we need a higher power, a power not our own, that can move us beyond our fears.”
Anderson continues, “We need a higher love. Someone who loves us within our very darkness. Someone who loves us despite our own confusion. Someone who loves us beyond our own abilities to love others or even ourselves. We need a higher love. And we need love to come down. That’s what the farmer discovered. ‘If only I could become one of them.’ He was wanting love to come down.
“2000 years ago on Christmas, that’s what God decided. One night, the living God looked down upon our darkness. God saw how we weren’t headed in this life where we were created to go, and if we didn’t die of the cold, we’d die of the dark.
That’s when God said, ‘If only I could become one of them.’ And so that’s what God did. The gospel of John says it this way, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'”
So, love came down at Christmas, love so amazing and so divine.
So let it be!
- Adapted story from Kierkegaard parable).