A Nativity Parable–An Unbeliever Celebrating Christmas With Little Birds


There was once a family man who was very kind and proper, generous and charitable, and honest in all his dealings with others; but there was only one problem. He did not believe in everything that is said in church about Christmas.

He was in fact such an honest man, that he could not bring himself to lie or pretend that he believed. “I don’t want to upset you,” he said to his wife, who always goes to church, “but I just can’t understand why God would become a man. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

On Christmas eve, his wife went to church for the midnight service with the children, while he stayed at their home, in the Carpathian Mountains, refusing to go with them. “I’m sorry, I would just feel like a hypocrite.” He said. “I’ll be waiting for you.”

Soon after the family left, a heavy snow came; he went to the window and saw the snowflakes were getting bigger and bigger. “Well, if we must have Christmas,” he thought, “let it be white.” He went back to his chair by the fireplace, and began to read the newspaper.

A few minutes later, he was startled by a muffled thud. Then came another, and another. He thought someone was throwing snowballs at the window.

When he opened the door to find out what was causing all the noise, he saw a flock of cowering little birds, most likely the swallows common in Ukraine. They must have been caught up in the storm, and tried to fly through the window for shelter. “I can’t let these poor birds freeze,” he thought, “but how can I help them?” He remembered the barn where the pony was standing. There the birds could find shelter. He quickly put on his coat and boots, and stomped through the deep snow, all the way to the barn. He opened the door wide and turned on the light, but the birds would not fly in. They must be coaxed in somehow, he thought.

He quickly ran home for bread, crumbled it and sprinkled it on the snow in the direction of the barn. To his chagrin, the birds completely ignored the bread, and continued to hop around aimlessly in the deep snow. He tried to drive them into the barn, walking around them and waving his arms. The birds ran in different directions, but not into the warm, bright barn. They simply couldn’t understand him, or what he was doing to help them. Surely they were cold, and needed to get to shelter, but although it seemed so obvious to him, an intelligent man, these simple little birds just couldn’t figure it out.

“I must seem a strange and frightening creature to them,” he said to himself. “How can I let them know that they can trust me? If only I could become a bird myself, for just a few minutes. Then surely they would understand me, I would be just like them. Then I could probably lead them to safety.” And at that exact moment the Church bells began to ring, and the birds wonderfully gathered into the barn, marching one by one, as the sound harmoniously rung out over the mountains.

He paused, frozen in space, listening to church bells proclaiming the good tidings of Christmas, as the Angels did in Bethlehem of old: Jesus Christ the Divine Son of God, was born of a Virgin for the salvation of all. He then trembled, and fell to his knees in the snow, a hot and icy tear passing down his cheek. “Now I understand.” he whispered. “Now I know why You did it."

The Grace of God touched the heart and mind of that man, and from his experience of the birds not understanding him, he now understood, enlightened by God, the reason why God became man. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill to men!

Vasilisa Shurina
Translated and lightly paraphrased by Matfey Shaheen

Union of Orthodox Journalists


Rob Minor1/11/2020 6:49 am
What a beautiful story! Very insightful and moving.
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