Society

Advent: Preparation

“This is the victory that overcomes the world—our faith.” (I John 5:4)
By REV. CLYDE E. NICHOLS

We are in the midst of the Advent season. It covers the four Sundays before Christmas. The word Advent means “coming.” It is a time of preparation for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ—God coming into the world through his Son.

Once there was a man who couldn’t believe, in the words of the Apostle Paul, that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.” On Christmas Eve he said to his family, “I am not going to the Christmas Eve service. I would feel like a hypocrite.” So it was that his family went to church that evening, leaving him at home.

They had scarcely left when it began to snow. He sat down before the fire to read the newspaper. Suddenly, he heard a thudding sound against the picture window, and another, and another.

A flock of birds, caught in the snowstorm, was desperately seeking shelter. They were trying to come inside. The man realized that their plight was desperate. Unless something was done they would all freeze to death.

The barn. That would provide warm shelter. Now, if he could just direct them to it. Putting on coat, cap and gloves, he went out into the swirling snow, opened the barn doors and turned on the lights. But the birds wouldn’t go in. Food failed to entice them; attempts to catch them were futile. And when he tried to shoo them into the barn they scattered in every direction.

“They are afraid of me,” he cried, “If only I could be a bird and mingle with them, speak their language, tell them not to be afraid, and so lead them into the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them—so they could see—and hear and understand.”

At that moment, in the midst of his frustration and despair, he heard the ringing of the church bells. He fell to his knees in the snow. “Now, I see,” he whispered through his tears, “Now, I know why You came as a little baby!”

As Harry Webb Farrington has written,

“I know not how that Bethlehem’s Babe

Could in the Godhead be;

I only know the manger Child

Has bought God’s life to me.

I know not how that Calvary’s cross

A world from sin could free;

I only know its matchless love

Has brought God’s love to me.”

Clyde Nichols is a retired minister, having served First Christian Church in Temple for 27 years as senior minister. He is the author of three books of devotionals and writes a religious column for several Texas newspapers, including The Reporter.


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2017-12-07 digital edition

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