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Christmas 1, December 26, 2010

Christmas 1 Year A RCL December 26, 2010

This morning we are contemplating the amazing fact that God loves us so much that God came to live among us as one of us, to lead us into new life here and now.

There is a wonderful story about this which you may have heard before, but which captures the meaning of the incarnation so powerfully that I am going to share it with you.

This particular version of the story is by Daniel Juniper. It is called “A Glimpse into the Stable.”

Tom stared at the fireplace but he could hear his wife’s rising anger. She called through the kitchen doorway.

“Why can’t you go with us to Christmas services?”
He sank into his leather armchair and sighed.

“Gail, I don’t want to argue about it. You know that I believe in God. But as for God ever becoming human—that’s something I just can’t understand. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Nothing more was said. She dressed their little boy and then drove away from the farmhouse, the car headlights outlining birches against the winter sky. Heavy snow lay on the ground. Even for Vermont, it was a bitterly cold night.

Tom threw a log into the fireplace and became lost in his thoughts.
“Christians claim that God has become human. Yet why would the infinite God of the universe do such a thing? Even if it were possible, it just doesn’t make sense….”

Suddenly there is a sickening thump on the windowpane. Tom gives a startled glance out into the night. “What’s going on out there?”

A flock of birds has gathered, drawn by the warm light of the house. As they flutter on the deep snow, their wings begin to freeze. Tom opens his front door. The little birds are so miserable that he has to do something. But he shakes his head. “They’d never come into the house. They’d be too frightened,” he thinks to himself.

Though there is no starlight, Tom can see the shadow of the old vacant stable across the farmyard. Lantern in hand, he walks across the farmyard and swings open its door.

“It’s not much, but at least you can get out of the wind,” he tells the birds.

He circles from behind and shoos the birds toward the stable. But they scatter across the barnyard, a confusing of fluttering shadows. Tom mutters irritably,
“Come on, I’m not trying to hurt you. Can’t you understand?”

He opens wide the doors of the stable, hanging the yellow lantern-light in an empty stall. Again Tom waves the birds toward the stable and again they flutter across the snow.

Tom stands hopeless in the cold. “They’ll freeze to death. If only they knew I’m trying to save them, they would understand. …….If only I could become one of them….”

He looks at the frightened dying birds and then glances upward. A break in the clouds has unveiled a single white star just above the lantern-light of the stable.

Silently, Tom understands.

Then he bows in the snow
before starlight
before stable-light
and before the God who has become one of us.

Amen.

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