I heard a Christmas story a few years ago that I would like to repeat for you. It is the story of a man who did not believe in Jesus. He lived in the country with his wife and kids. He did not stop them from believing, but he himself did not believe. But his wife never gave up on him.
One Christmas Eve, his wife tried to get him to come to church with them one more time. As usual, he said no. But he helped her get the children ready for church. They drove off through the snowstorm, and he settled down in his chair in front of the nice big warm fire to read a book. As he was reading he heard something hit the big window: thwap. He turned to look but did not see anything. So he went back to reading. Then he heard it again: thwap, thwap.
So he got up to look at the window but he could not see anything because it was dark and snowing. He turned from the window to return to his chair when he heard it again: thwap. This time he stood at the window, and eventually saw it again: thwap, thwap. It was birds trying to get through the window into the warmth and the light.
The birds were lying stunned in the snow, and each bird would get up and try to return to the window. So he put on his sweater and went to open the barn and turn on the lights. He thought that the birds would go toward the barn instead of the window. So he went back inside and started to read. Thwap, thwap.
This time, he went outside and tried to shoo the birds into the barn. But they were afraid of him and tried to get away. One bird, a snow white dove, flew at the window so hard that it broke its neck. He knew the bird had died when it hit the window. But he picked it up and said to himself “if only I could become a bird! I could lead them into the barn!”
Just then, he heard the bells of the church ringing the start of Mass. He fell to his knees in the snow and started crying. Then, still with only a heavy sweater, he started running toward the church which was two miles away.
When he got to the church, he threw open the doors, and stumbled into the church for the first time in his life. Everyone in the church turned to look, his wife ran to meet him as he lay on the floor. The priest came down to see if he needed help. The man just opened his hands and looked at the white dove, then looked at his wife and the priest and said “now I understand.”
Then, a Christmas miracle happened. The dove came back to life and flew into the rafters of the church. The man stood up and told his story. Then the priest continued with the Mass. But after the Mass, when everyone was gone, the priest tried to find the white dove. But it was nowhere to be found. The Holy Spirit had visited this man, and this church on a Christmas Eve. Do you understand?