A Stubborn Sunday Sparrow

We’ve all seen birds fly into plate glass windows.  We snicker if it’s a lowly house sparrow or gasp if it’s a crimson cardinal.  But have you ever seen a bird that kept on doing it?

One Sunday morning, wind blew cloudy from the northeast with a promise of rain.  And high above our Praise Team’s keyboards to the right of the altar, a finch-sized flyer flapped himself into a clear window.

Then, he did it again.  And four more times, stroking geometric patterns on the lofty glass.  It was always the same window, framed like an upside-down cut in half home plate.  We all smiled.

I thought about that image for awhile and what it might represent…

Some may interpret the poor bird as Mankind, futilely attempting to connect with a distant and uncaring God.   No matter how hard or how often we try, the Creator remains aloof and uncaring.  Grace is beyond reach and He’s not letting you in.  We feel too unworthy and unloved to think he could ever have a relationship with us, even as we seemingly beat ourselves up trying to gain his attention.

Equally damaging are those who see themselves as “The Church.”  Their worldview is a dogmatic, legalistic, “religious” series of long-held black and white Old Testament doctrine.  They’re too full of themselves to ever entertain the notion of a loving, compassionate, merciful God.  Modern day Pharisees, they have no room in their hearts or homes for grace.  Fly away, little birdie.

A more moderate analogy brings to mind the painting of Jesus, knocking on the door of someone’s home.  If you look closely, you notice that it can only be opened from the inside.  God certainly isn’t going to bang down walls to enter our hearts if we don’t want him to.  But he’ll always be on the front porch if we do.  Maybe the bird was reminding us of that.

I’m sure some congregants viewed our hapless friend—and his half-dozen attempts to crash the Methodist party—as a humorous and minor distraction from Pastor Craig’s message.  But it fit right in.

You see, the sermon that day was about self-discovery.  And just as the bird was seeking  something, we were called to look within ourselves to discover God’s calling—then to act on it.

It’s not necessarily about becoming an African missionary or going to seminary or giving all our possessions to the poor.  It’s much more about pounding some nails for Habitat for Humanity, serving beans to a toothless man at a shelter, or helping  corral hyperactive Bible school tykes.

In the purest sense, always, it’s about relationships.  And sometimes, to quote John Prine, it’s just a simple matter of saying “hello in there.”

I hope that poor bird had a more productive afternoon and found whatever it was he was seeking.   Even more, I pray that we all figure out God’s mission for us, and that we proceed forward with it in confident strength.

Maybe Jesus even had that Sunday in mind when he said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents?  And yet, not one of them is forgotten before God.  Indeed, the very hairs on your head are all numbered.  Do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

But a sparrow-sized bird can make for a thought-provoking analogy.

Especially a persistent one.

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