Friday, December 28, 2012

Little Brown Jobs

Christmas Eve 2012

Luke 2: 1-20

For Christmas Eve, some preachers, aware that they will get some people in church they don’t normally see (those people who come on Christmas and Easter, which we call C&E’s, or Chreasters), take two tactics; one way to go on Christmas eve is to tell the whole story of Jesus, from birth to death, and what his story means. In other words, catechism with candles.

The other way to go, it seems to me, is to assume that everyone in the church already knows the significance of the event, the date, and at least a tenuous grip on the significance. Otherwise, you would not have come out tonight.

I’m one of the latter, so no crucifixion story.

There’s a story that I learned when I lived in Texas, and I can’t remember where I learned it. I can’t remember from whom I learned it, either. But I like it a lot, so I wanted to share it.

Once there was a man. He was a good man, supported his family, worked hard, was not held up by traditional roles. So we see him silhouetted in the kitchen window of his house one windy, snowy Christmas eve. He was washing the family’s dishes after their traditional Christmas eve meal, and the rest of the family had gone off to church for services. As he washed, he absentmindedly looked out the window, seeing the barn light shine in the yard in front of the barn door.

What caught his eye was a flock of birds, nothing remarkable about them, they were what birdwatchers called LBJ’s (Little Brown Jobs). They were pecking the ground under the light, and not finding much, since that was usually where the chickens would peck, too. They were hungry, they looked cold, and were dislodged by any decent gust of wind.

The man felt bad for these little insignificant birds, and dried off his hands. He went into the mudroom to get his coat and hat, a handful of chicken feed from the can by the door, and went out.

It was cold. He shivered, and he had on a coat and hat. The birds must be freezing.

He walked out the barnyard, and scattered the feed. The little birds swarmed the food and scattered it everywhere, some even blew away. Some did get eaten. But not enough to the man;s liking. He also felt the wave of heat that came off the barn, and he knew that all the horses and cows inside were making the barn nice and toasty. It would be great if he could get the LBJ’s inside. He walked back into the house, and grabbed some more feed, and began trying to set a trail for the birds from the yard to the now open barn door, which gave a brighter light.

With that light he could see that every time he tried to set a trail for the birds, they would swarm and scatter the feed, destroying every trace of a path. He tried several times, getting more frustrated every time. Then he tried to scare them into the barn, opening his coat and flapping it at the birds, trying to scare them into the barn. They flew everywhere EXCEPT where he wanted them to go. All he got was more frustrated, and a wet front to boot.

“Why can’t these birds just see what they need to survive? Why can’t they go into the barn like I want? Are there brains really so small? If I could just become a bird, I could convince them, and lead them into the barn…

And then he realized why Jesus was born.

That is what we celebrate on Christmas. We were given a fellow LBJ to follow into the barn.

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