The Light…and Owls
Christmas Eve Message 2016
There was a man who did not believe in God. It was of course his right to not believe, but he did not hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays. He thought both were very silly.
His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God, and in Jesus. She stayed true to both God and Jesus despite her husband’s frequent insulting comments.
One Christmas Eve, the man’s wife took their children to the church service in the farm community near where the family lived. Before leaving, the woman asked her husband if he wanted to accompany his family. As always, his answer was, “No.” As always, it was more than just, “No.” He added, “That story about Jesus is nonsense. I mean, why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That is just plain ridiculous.”
When his wife and their children left for the church’s Christmas Eve service, the man stayed home.
A while later, the wind started to build. It grew stronger as snow began to fall. Soon, the area was in the midst of a blizzard. When the man looked out one of the windows of his house, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm.
Knowing his family would be safe at the church, the man sat down to relax in front a fire, but soon he heard a loud thump. Something had hit a window of the house.
The man looked outside, but could not see more than a few feet. That was the case until, a few minutes later, the snow let up a bit. With that, the man ventured outside to see what had hit his window.
The man walked to a field near his house, where he saw a flock of wild geese. They were a bit late flying south for the winter and were caught in the storm. They could not go on. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. It was one of the geese that had flown into the window. That is what the man had heard.
The geese were lost. They were stranded on the man’s farm, with no food or shelter.
The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. It came to him his barn would be a great place for them to stay. “It’s warm and safe in there,” he thought to himself. “Surely the geese could spend the night there and wait out the storm.”
With that idea, the man walked to the barn. He opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping the geese would notice the open barn and go inside.
However, the geese kept fluttering around aimlessly. They did not seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them.
The man shouted at the geese, trying to get their attention, but that just scared the birds even more. They moved further away from the safety available to them.
The man went back to his house and returned with some bread. He broke the slices of bread and made a bread crumb trail leading to the barn, but still the geese did not catch on.
That caused the man to get frustrated. He got behind the geese and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but that frightened the geese even more. They scattered in every direction except toward the barn.
Nothing the man did got the geese to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe. As he returned to the barn, he screamed to himself, “Why don't they follow me? Can’t they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?”
It then came to the man that the geese would not follow a human. “If only I were a goose, then I could save them,” he said out loud.
And then he had it. He went into the barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released his goose, which flew through the flock before landing and walking straight to and into the barn. One-by-one, the other geese followed it to safety.
For a moment, the man stood silently as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind. The words, “If only I were a goose, then I could save them.”
That is when he remembered what he had said to his wife earlier. “Why would God want to be like us?” he had asked. “That is ridiculous,” he had said.
It suddenly occurred to the man that what had just happened had a spiritual lesson. It occurred to him that 2000 years ago, people were like the geese - blind, lost, flapping around, perishing. It further occurred to him that people, on their own, are no different now. But God had His Son become like them - like us - so He could be with us, showing us the way to safety, doing so in a form we would follow.
As the winds and the snow died down, the man’s soul became quiet. His soul quieted because he understood why Christ had come. In the man’s quietness, years of doubt and disbelief vanished. He fell to his knees in the snow and prayed his first prayer, which was, “Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm.”
Two thousand years ago, God did come to earth in the form of Jesus, the purpose being to save people, including us, from the storms of sin that still are all around us.
Interestingly, His coming was foretold many, many times in Old Testament prophecies, including a prophecy told by Isaiah. In the ninth chapter of the Old Testament book with his name, in verse 2, there is this.
“The people who walked in darkness…” Walking in darkness certainly applied to Old Testament times, including to the Old Testament people of God. Since Adam and Eve, they had suffered the consequences of their own sins and disobedience. Over the centuries, they had many times been attacked by foreign kingdoms. Many of the people of God had died. Many others had been forced into captivity. Those who survived in the Jewish homeland suffered persecution and domination over and over again.
Even today the world can be a dark place with wars and terrorism on the national and international scenes, and disappointments and broken relationships in personal and family lives.
That is the bad news. But listen. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who have dwelt in a land of deep darkness…” That is foreboding, is it not?Deep darkness. As in almost overwhelming problems. “Those who have dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.”
What is in Isaiah 9:2 is a prophecy. Isaiah’s words told of a future light. For us, that light did come. I is the light of Jesus to which Isaiah’s words refer. That light is still available today. It is a light that does shine on all who accept Jesus as the Savior. A light we can follow, not to an open barn, but to blessings here and Heaven later.
Have you accepted Jesus? If so, what a wonderful gift you have given to Him. If not, will you give Him that gift, even now?
As you consider that, think of this.
In addition to the people involved in the Christmas story - Mary and Joseph, shepherds and Wise Men - there are other parts of God’s creation that were involved as well.
For instance, since Jesus was born in a barn, there were no doubt some cows that witnessed the event. The shepherds who were the first to hear of the event were in a field tending sheep.
There are also some birds associated with Christmas, including geese, which we thought about a few minutes ago, and including the owl, at least one of which might have been in the barn the night Jesus was born. But more than that, owls often have the meaning or the symbolism of being wise.
With the owl in mind, will you do the wise thing tonight and thank Jesus for coming to be the light that warms us and nourishes us? The light that leads us to God? And again, if you have not accepted Him, please do so. Again, what a wonderful gift that will be for Jesus.
Posted on Sat, December 24, 2016
by George Cook