A New England Preacher's Story
by Rev. Robert J. Hermley

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One Easter Sunday morning the preacher came to the church carrying a rusty, bent, old bird cage, and set it by the pulpit.  Eyebrows were raised and, as if in response, he began to speak...

"I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward me swinging this bird cage.  On the bottom of the cage were three little wild birds, shivering with cold and fright.  I stopped the lad and asked, What you got there, son?"  "Just some old birds," came the reply.  "What are you gonna do with them?"  I asked.  "Take 'em home and have fun with 'em," he answered.  "I'm gonna tease 'em and pull out their feathers to make 'em fight.  I'm gonna have a real good time."

"But you'll get tired of those birds sooner or later.  What will you do?"  "Oh, I got some cats," said the little boy.  "They like birds.  I'll take 'em to them."

The preacher was silent for a moment.  "How much do you want for those birds, son?"  "Huh??!!!  Why, you don't want them birds, mister.  They're just plain field birds, they don't sing.  They ain't even pretty!"

"How much?" the preacher asked again.

The boy sized up the preacher as if he were crazy and said, "$10?"

The pastor reached in his pocket and took out a ten dollar bill.  He placed it in the boy's hand.  In a flash, the boy was gone.  The preacher picked up the cage and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot.  Setting the cage down, he opened the door, and by softly tapping the bars persuaded the birds out, setting them free.

Well, that explained the empty bird cage on the pulpit, and then preacher began this story.

One day Satan and God the Father were having a conversation.  Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden, and he was gloating and boasting.  "Yes, sir, I just caught the world full of people down there.  Set me a trap, used bait I knew they couldn't resist.  Got 'em all!"

"What are you going to do with them?"  God asked.

Satan replied, "Oh, I'm gonna have fun!  I'm gonna teach them to hate and abuse each other, I'll tell them that it's alright to have sex with anyone they want and show them how to destroy themselves with drink and drugs.  I'll even show them how to stop their babies from being born, and to kill them if they don't want them.  I'm really gonna have fun!"

"And what will you do when you get done with them?"  God asked.

"Oh, they'll stay with me forever when they die." 

At this God mused, "What can I do for them so they will see how much I love them."

"Oh, you don't want those people.  They ain't no good.  Why, you'll take them and they'll just hate you.  They'll spit on you, they'll curse you and kill you.  You don't want those people!!"

With sadness in his voice God continued, "I will send my Son to earth.  He will pay the price for my children.  He will redeem these people.  Surely they will hear his voice and choose to follow him.  Done," said God, "Jesus will pay the price."

The preacher picked up the cage and opened its door.  Then he stepped down from the pulpit.