This weekend we celebrate Christmas, the miracle of the Incarnation, Jesus, God in the flesh, the coming of Emmanuel, God with us.
One of my favorite stories illustrating the wonder of God's gift to us at Christmas involves a man who didn't go for all of this "Jesus is the lord" stuff.
He was not a Scrooge but a kind, decent, mostly good man. He was generous to his family and upright in his dealings with others.
And now he was looking forward to another Christmas season. However, he did not believe in what he termed "all that incarnation stuff," which churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just did not make sense, and he was honest. He just could not swallow that Jesus story, the one about God coming to earth as a man.
On Christmas Eve, he told his wife, "I know this is going to disappoint you, but I just can't go to church with you tonight."
He said he would feel like a hypocrite, so he would much rather stay home. He stayed at home and opened up the evening paper as his family went to church.
Shortly after his family drove away, snow began to fall. Minutes later, he was startled by a thudding sound, then another and another.
At first, he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against the living room window, but when he went to the door to investigate, he found a flock of birds floundering miserably in the snow. They were caught in the storm, and in a desperate search for shelter, they tried to fly through the huge picture window.
He could not let the poor creatures lie there and freeze. He remembered the barn where his children kept their pony. That would provide a warm shelter if he could direct the birds to it.
He tried enticing them with food. He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and furiously waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction -- except into the warm, lighted barn.
Suddenly, he realized they were afraid of him.
He thought, to them, I'm a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know they can trust me, so they'd know that I'm not trying to hurt them. But how?
Any move he made only served to scare them and confuse them. They just would not follow. They could not be led or shooed, because they feared him.
If only I could be a bird myself, he thought. If only I could be a bird, mingle with them, speak their language, tell them not to be afraid and show them the way to the warm and safe barn. But I'd have to be one of them, so they could see, hear and understand.
At that moment, the church bells began to ring. They were ringing so loudly the sound reached his ears above the sound of the cold night wind. He stood there listening to the bells heralding the news of Christmas, and suddenly, he got it.
He understood the Incarnation, God in the flesh. He understood Emmanuel, God with us.
Right there, the man sank to his knees in the snow and worshipped him.
I pray that you and your family enjoy a Christmas filled with peace, love and joy, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who came to show us the way.
Kyle Ermoian is the senior pastor of Celebration Community Church. Statements of Faith is a series sharing lessons from local church leaders and members. To submit a column for publication, contact the Hays Daily News at (785) 628-1081.