Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Beej and Whitney, final days

I have shared before that I am something of a bird nerd. I get it from my father, who enjoyed watching and identifying them. I had no interest until many years after his death. I'm not really sure why, but it is something that I find contentment in.

Since we moved to Tulsa, I don't put out as many feeders as I used to. As a matter of fact, I have three hummingbird feeders out, and that is it. In the time they have been out this year, I have seen one hummingbird.

However, daily, I see a Downey Woodpecker. He's not busy making fodder of wood, he is doing his darndest to drink from the Hummingbird feeder. He has tried all three. I really don't think he is confused about his identity, but I am not really sure. Everything else he does is woodpecker-like.

I know strange things sometimes occur in nature. In the years I have put out feeders, this is the first I have seen a woodpecker frequent this type.

While this is something of an anomoly in nature, it reminds me of what I see happen in churches, on occasion.

Week after week in our places of worship, we see familiar faces. We have grown quite comfortable with their presence. Comfort in our worship experience is something we desire. How then, do we react when the scruffy, underpriviledged alcoholic walks in?

I've seen parents pull their children close. I've seen disparaging glances fired off like canons. I've seen disapproving congregants make room, when they would rather not.

What I have not seen, is that person who resembles Jesus, walk up and warmly welcome the new visitor. We tend to react like they are freaks of nature. Ones we will endure for this service, but certainly hope they don't return. Its obvious they need Jesus, we think...but then we don't interact with them at all. Apparently, we expect them to see the love of Jesus in our postures of rejection.

There is nothing Christ-like in our attitudes, body language or most reactions.

I have no problem with the Downey Woodpecker feeding from my Hummingbird feeders. I know he can do damage to the wood panels on the exterior of my home. But he didn't come to destroy, he came to feed. Why else would he be here?

He's hungry. I am busy amassing the ingredients for suet. I am going to build a suet feeder from an old log, so he can feel more at home. So he can find the nourishment he seeks in a fashion he more generally would desire. He needs love, he needs sustenance, he needs a welcome. I am going to provide it.

I have seen unwelcome visitors leave in a hurry. Sadly, I should have taken on the role of something other than spectator. If I had done for them what I am willing to do for a bird, I'd have a deeper impact on the lives of those Jesus loves.

When we postulate our mission statements or catch phrases about who we are as a body and what our prevailing philosophies are going to be, we need to seriously consider whether or not we can live up to them. In one church we were members of, our banner declared, "THE PEOPLE LOVING CHURCH."

My experience taught me that most churches were 'people loving,' as long as the people walked, talked, ate, smelled, and looked like we wanted them to. That guy with the new suit? He is very welcome! The one with the ooze of booze? Couldn't he go somewhere else? Maybe the homeless mission would be a better fit. They are equipped to care for him better.

Our churches are not about buildings that cost millions and people who have them. They are about living as Jesus did. Reaching out to those who are hungry. We need to consider redesigning how we react, how we reach out, how we respect and how we love.

If we resemble this description, we look like a country club. Scrap the finery. Bring on the Jesus attitude. The one where being a humble servant to all, is what we are about.

Feed the birds. All of them.



At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And be willing to wash their feet ...

Well said, Brent!

Have a blessed day!

Greeley, CO

At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe there is something going on in the bird world. I have this Grackle who keeps visiting my feeder usually serving the Chickadees, Sparrows, Cardinals and other small birds. The iron hook strains to hold his weight as it bends halfway to the ground when he sits at the feeder. And he is unsteady as he feeds but somehow he is evidently gaining nurishment as he returns often. Meanwhile, the blue heron has completely consumed all of the fish in my plastic pond too. Maybe I should try the fish-food in the feeder?! lol

At 3:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Brent! God Bless!


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