THE PARABLE OF BIRDS
Louise Cassels was born and raised in South Carolina. He graduated from Duke, served in WW II and wrote about religion for United Press International. One of his most famous pieces is “The Parable of the Birds.” This story has been told and retold, but I thought it might be helpful in understanding Christmas and the Christian belief that God put on flesh to be with us. –Pastor Mark
Now the man to whom I am going to introduce you was not a scrooge; he was a kind, decent, mostly good man. He was generous to his family and upright in his dealings with other men. However, he just did not believe all that stuff about God becoming a man, which the churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just did not make sense, and he was too honest to pretend otherwise.
“I’m sorry,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.” He said he would feel like a hypocrite and that he would much rather just stay at home. Therefore, he stayed home, and the others went to Christmas Eve service.
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 to read his newspaper. Minutes later, he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another and another — sort of a thump or a thud. At first, he thought someone must have been throwing snowballs against his living room window.
When he went to the front door 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 his large picture window. Well, he could not let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.
Quickly he put on a coat and boots and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them. So, he hurried back to the house, got breadcrumbs and sprinkled them on the snow. He made a trail to the brightly lit, wide-open doorway of the stable. To his dismay, the birds ignored the breadcrumbs and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow.
He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by waving his arms. They scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn. Then he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of a way to let them know they can trust me — that I am not trying to hurt them but to help them. But how?
Any move he made tended to frighten and confuse the birds. They just would not follow.
“If only I could be a bird,” he thought to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could 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 so they could see and hear and understand.”
At that moment the church bells began to ring above the sounds of the wind. He stood there 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.”
CHRISTMAS EVE WORSHIP
AT FIRST METHODIST
9 & 11 a.m. in the Sanctuary
5 p.m. Family Friendly/Interactive in the Sanctuary
8:15-8:45 p.m. – Come and go communion in the Chapel
9 p.m. A Service of Lessons, Carols & the Word in the Sanctuary
REMEMBER WHOSE BIRTHDAY
WE ARE CELEBRATING!
Your Advent/Christmas offering will be divided in thirds and go to these great causes:
- Mission Guatemala Work Team
- Clearwater – Freshwater Wells in Africa
- Wednesday Food Pantry
MARKUS DICKINSON NAMED INTERIM DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE MINISTRIES
We are pleased to announce that Markus Dickinson has been named Interim Director of our Jubilee College Ministry. The son of a UMC pastor in central Illinois, Markus has wandered through many different ministry roles, from being the president of a church young adult group to leading small group Bible studies to volunteering in the jail. At the same time, he has been a professor in Computational Linguistics at IU for over ten years, where he has gotten to know many students. More specifically, Markus has been helping with the Jubilee College and Young Adult Ministry since going on the Spring 2016 Mission Trip.
Watch for more information about second semester plans for our college outreach!
BLESSINGS TO YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS
FROM YOUR CHURCH STAFF AT FIRST METHODIST!!!
Pastor Mark, Pastor Teri, Pastor Donna, Pastor Kevin
Shana Dublan (Children’s Ministries & Middle School)
Ann Arbuckle (Admin Assistant)
Shelby Rodney (Age Level Support & Finance)
Jay Cherry (Finance & Facilities)
Cath Foreman (Pastoral Administrative Assistant & Office Administrator)
Travis Jeffords (Open Door Worship) Anne Kapper (Parish Visitor)
Luz Balbuena (Church Custodian & Angel)
Max Richter & Russ Spicer (After Hours Hospitality)
Michael Rousey (IT)
Charles Webb (Organist)
Gwyn Richards (Director of the Chancel Choir
Noah Freeman (Handbells) Shannon Stanger (Maintenance)