Tuesday, 07 February 2023

First Lutheran Corner: A Christmas miracle

David Brown was an atheist. He did not believe in God the Father, did not believe in the Holy Spirit and David Brown did not believe in Jesus.

What David Brown was, well, he was a veterinarian. He lived in and had his practice established in a small town just outside Boston, Massachusetts.

Although he was an atheist, David was highly respected by everyone in town. He took care of all the pets of all the families as well as the animals from the numerous farms in the vicinity.

David Brown could be counted on to drop whatever he was doing, day or night, to help a sick pet, or to help deliver a calf or even to shed a tear with a child who had just witnessed the death of their beloved pet.

David Brown was a good man by all definitions ... but David Brown didn’t believe in God, or the Holy Spirit or Jesus.

David married his wife, Sue when he was 28 years old. Against the wishes of Sue’s mother, they were married by a justice of the peace, because David thought it would be hypocritical to be married in a church of God when he did not believe in God, or the Holy Spirit or Jesus.

David Brown loved Sue very much and together they had two wonderful children. It was Sue, however, who would be tasked with taking their children to church and she did so every single week.

She never stopped asking David to join them and he never stopped saying no. The pastor of the church had dropped by on numerous occasions to try to share the good news with David, but David wouldn’t listen.

If it didn’t make logical sense, if there wasn’t scientific proof, if there was any doubt at all, then it didn’t exist as David saw it. And since the idea of a God that would become a human being to save humanity made no sense at all, he simply refused to believe in God, or the Holy Spirit or Jesus.

David was in his study on Christmas Eve of 1988. He had a warm fire roaring in the fireplace. He sat in his favorite chair and was reading a book. Sue walked in and told him she was taking the kids to the midnight Christmas Eve service ... would he like to go as well?

He said no, and added, “Are you ever going to stop asking me to go to church?”

“Only when you believe and then I won’t need to anymore,” Sue said. She then took the kids and left for church.

The warmth of the fire made it a very lazy evening and it wasn’t long before David fell asleep. He was startled back to consciousness by the sound of three distinct raps on the window to his study.

He got up from his chair, walked to the window and looked outside. Nothing but snow, driving down to the ground as the beginning of a blizzard was evident. He figured the neighbors were playing a joke or something, so he went outside and looked around. He saw nothing.

Perplexed, he went back in the house, grabbed a coat and a flashlight, his gloves, and a warm hat and trudged through the snow to the base of the window. He couldn’t see anything, but he distinctly heard a chirping sound on the ground.

He flashed his light to where the sound was coming from and there huddled in the snow were three small birds. They had got lost in the storm and had headed to the light from the window and had hit the glass.

David knew they were hurt ... he could see little droplets of blood on the freshly fallen snow. He would have to get them inside the house quickly if there was a chance at all of saving them.

He bent over and tried to pick up one of the birds. But as soon as he came close, the bird would run away. He tried another and the same thing happened. It was obvious that they were afraid of him and using their last bit of energy to try to keep their distance from David.

David continued to try and pick them up ... he knew they would die if he didn’t get them medical attention. He knew that he was their only chance to live. Every time David tried to pick one up, it would run.

He was now chasing the birds every which way but the harder he tried, the more they would run. He was becoming more and more frustrated and the pain of knowing the little birds would die was breaking his heart.

In utter frustration with being unable to grab them, he stood upright and yelled out, “Why?! Why don’t they understand that I’m not trying to hurt them? Why don’t they understand that I am trying to save their lives? Why can’t they understand? If only … if only, I could become a little bird and go down there and tell them that I am here to help them, that I am here to heal their pain, that I am here to save their lives. If only I could become one of them!”

At that instant, the church bells in the square began to ring, announcing the arrival of Christmas day, the birthday of Jesus Christ, the one who had come to save our lives.

In a driving snow storm, in a small town outside of Boston, a 40-year-old veterinarian fell to his knees, put his head in his hands and began to weep. Forty years of denial. Forty years of pain. Forty years of refusing to accept God.

But in one instant, at the sound of a church bell, David Brown knew why there really was a Jesus and why he had come to this Earth.

In one instant, three little birds opened a man’s heart enough to let the Holy Spirit come in and give David Brown his earthly life ... and more important, his eternal life.

In one instant, David Brown finally received and accepted the gift of the little baby in a manger.

Please join us at First Lutheran Church in Lucerne this Sunday as we worship God for the gift of Jesus. The service begins at 11 a.m., with lunch immediately following. Children’s Sunday School starts at 11:20 a.m

All are welcome so please, come as you are and bring a friend of two.

Chris DelCol is pastor of First Lutheran Church in Lucerne, Calif. The church is located at 3863 Country Club Drive, telephone 707-274-5572. Email Pastor Chris at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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