Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Birds of a Feather Touch Lives Together


Dear Friends,

            As I shook crumbs off place mats on my birthday morning some years ago, a flock of robins in the backyard caught my eye. Then I noticed two chickadees and, a moment later, two blue jays perched on the pines. For some reason, it was a good morning for birds, so I decided to have my devotions by my breakfast nook window and enjoy the show God gave me.

            What a show it was! Two finches visited, then a pair of nuthatches and several juncos. A blackbird, iridescent head shimmering, swooped by the window. All the while, robins continued to fly in and out of the yard, dropping to the ground now and then, heads cocked, hoping to hear the faint stir of a worm.

            The sight of a bird or two from my window is not unusual and is always a welcome diversion. But I had never seen so many types within such a short time. A stray sea gull sailed over the tops of the trees. A large flicker with his showy patch of red climbed a tree trunk, and I caught a glimpse of a hairy woodpecker a little farther back in the woods that border our yard.

            I grabbed the “bird book” to identify a mottled back-and-white feathered friend with a red spot on his head, backing down a tree trunk. Could it be a yellow-bellied sapsucker? Then came the tufted titmice. And all the while the robins continued to come and go . . . so many of them! Then a cardinal flew in. Wow! A most blessed birthday treat this was!

            The impact of the sheer numbers and many types of birds speaks to me of the impression the corporate body of Christ makes in the world. There is something about the witness of several  people “in concert” that provides more weight than a single person might. And there is the added effect of the different “types” of Christians.

            All around us are the “everyday” robins—nothing flash, just minding their own business, honest and diligent in their work. You know Christians like that who don’t make a big show of their faith—dependable people of integrity. Then there’s the one like the single flicker. Someone who comes into your life for a brief moment yet captures your attention with an outspoken story about how God has worked in their life.

            The finches are rather ordinary, some of them sporting reddish collars. All have short strong beaks ready to tackle the task at hand. They remind me of the many faithful workers using their ordinary talents and gifts for the Lord—teaching Sunday school, serving meals, visiting the sick. One bird looks as though he caught the splashes of a white paint brush—an odd fellow, not very attractive, just like the individual lacking physical beauty who has a heart of gold so precious to God and others.

            The yellow-bellied sapsucker is a rare bird around here and reminds me of the Christian who is not afraid to venture into new territories. Maybe he’s on an evangelistic campaign. The juncos visit in groups and speak to me of families. How exciting to watch the relationships of parents and children whose lives have been transformed. Choir members who sing of God’s love and grace come to mind as I hear the call of the cardinals.

            The pair of nuthatches following each other down a tree trunk reminds me that sometimes we need to go against the grain so that others will take note of our convictions. And what about those blue jays? They are a noisy, raucous pair. But they, too, are part of the bird family and add color and volume to the body.

            What I’m trying to say is, whoever you are, whatever your style, as a Christian you play an important role in the body of Christ. God needs your unique contribution to add beauty and diversity to it. We’ll never know this side of heaven how many hearts are touched by our corporate witness. What kind of bird are you? Join the flock in church on Sunday!

With a heart thankful for birds and other everyday blessings,

Shirley

Upcoming Engagements:

November 5, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. - Shirley at BookFest, Deane Center, Wellsboro.
November 12, 1 p.m. – Friends of the Heart at Ladies Tea, Hilltop Christian Church, Newport, “Tea with Mary, Martha and their Psychologist.”
November 19, 2 p.m. – Friends of the Heart with Secret Sisters, West Gate American Baptist Church, Lancaster, “Tea with Mary, Martha and their Psychologist.”
November 20, 8:45 a.m. – Friends of the Heart at Thank Offering Service, Salem U. C. C., Elizabethville, “Offering Our Talents, Treasures and Time.”