One of the first things we did when we moved into our new parsonage a few weeks ago was set out the bird feeders. This has been a family ritual for as long as we can remember. I suppose it’s not something we have to do. After all, if we don’t feed the birds, they’re perfectly capable of finding food themselves. We do it because we like backyard birding.
We’re not trying to attract one or two particular kinds of bird; instead, we’re looking for any bird that might be in the neighborhood. All birds are welcome. And we don’t even mind a few squirrels dropping by for a bite.
Just this morning, I’ve seen white winged doves, blue jays, cardinals, mocking birds, a brown thrasher, a downy woodpecker, house finches, and some noisy house sparrows. And over the last few days, there have been many more. The variety is wonderful–all kinds of feathers flocking together.
I think this is a good image for a church. The work if a church is to set out the food. Not for one particular kind of person, but for any person who might be in the neighborhood, anyone who might happen to fly by. All birds are welcome. And squirrels can drop by, too.
But this doesn’t happen without people inside the church being very intentional about offering good food to eat and a safe place to eat it. This doesn’t happen without offering an invitation for new people to come and hospitality when they arrive.
And importantly, this doesn’t happen without creating a space for people to truly and deeply belong and an atmosphere where they can participate in preparing and serving the food themselves. We all have a part in setting out the feeders for one another and for any new bird that might need a perch to land on. This is what it means to be a community of grace and love.
And remember, we’re all just birds at the feast of God’s grace, and all birds are welcome into the flock. And squirrels, too.