American radio broadcaster Paul Harvey told a modern parable called “The Man and the Birds”. The parable follows a man who can’t bring himself to believe the story of Jesus as God incarnate.

On Christmas Eve, the man foregoes church service, staying at home instead. Later that night, he hears an irregular thumping sound against the kitchen storm door. He goes to a window and watches as tiny shivering sparrows, attracted to the evident warmth inside, beat in vain against the glass.

The man bundles up and trudges through the snow to open his barn for the struggling birds. He turns on the lights and tosses some hay in a corner. But the sparrows, which scattered in all directions when he emerged from the house, hide in the darkness, afraid.

The man tries various tactics to get them into the barn.

He lays down a trail of cracker crumbs to direct them. He tries circling behind the birds to drive them toward the barn. Nothing works. He, a huge, alien creature, has terrified them; the birds can’t comprehend that he actually desires to help.

“If only I could be a bird,” he thinks to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe, warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear, and understand.”

At that moment, the church bells begin to ring. And as the man stands there listening to the bells, he sinks to his knees in the snow.