I think we need a cute bird. This picture of a baby owl was posted in my Connection Group Facebook page a couple of weeks ago. The CG member helped rescue this baby owl who couldn’t fly. Isn’t it the cutest baby owl ever!!!
Do you find yourself noticing birds more than before? At the VA leadership planning retreat when a scripture was read out loud mentioning a bird, we gave each other a knowing looking and smiled like we were in on a secret.
This week, however, do you feel like the secret is on us?
In Consider the Birds by Debbie Blue, we are considering the hen. Prior to reading this book I had not given much thought to Jesus choosing to identify with the hen. Oh sure, I could quote without much thought the famous passage about Jesus weeping over Jerusalem and wanting to gather her children like a mother hen gathers her brood under her wings.
Let’s pause and let Jesus identifying with the chicken sink in.
We have looked at:
The pigeon/dove—the bird God chose to associate with the Holy Spirit.
The pelican—the bird church and art history have chosen to associate with Jesus because of the misnomer that pelican mother’s feed their babies from their blood.
The quail—the bird that shows up in the Exodus story and was used to demonstrate the concept of “enough.”
The vulture—who flies high, wobbles, and is a purity producer. God uses the vulture to show how death and decay are not “the end” in the way we may think they are.
The eagle—the bird many countries have been drawn to throughout history, thus symbolically used more than any other bird. Jesus doesn’t say he is like an eagle.
The ostrich—used by God as an illustration at the end of Job. Also associated with mourning. Though I’ve never heard an ostrich, the sound I think they make haunts me when I think about it.
The sparrow—mentioned in reference to how much God values and notices the small, common parts of life.
The rooster—are we surprised that the disciples can be seen as a group of roosters, jockeying for their positions? Jesus isn’t a rooster, he doesn’t have to jockey for his worth. Unlike us he knows his worth. He knows his identify.
We come to the hen. Jesus, who has all the birds in the world he could have used in his teaching metaphor chooses the hen to say, “This, this, is how I view you. How I love you. How I want to interact with you, but you would have none of it.” A chicken.
“It seems that all this might humiliate any god with dignity. Maybe God gave up God’s dignity in Jesus Christ because what is more important to God is to be with us, close to us—maybe this is actually essential to God’s nature in some way that is more pressing than God’s grandeur.”
Throughout this book Blue comes back again and again to the theme of power. I wish I wondered more why she bangs this drum again and again. But I know why she pushes back on power, because my own heart secretly seeks and craves power. Power for myself. Power for our ministry. Power, even from God. We’ve learned to package this longing in such a way that sounds good, even holy.
“It is understandable that we want a powerful God, but I’m not sure that desire really leads us to more truth, or more goodness, or a better world.”
In the Bible study (found here), Caitlin had us look at the verbs in Matthew 23:37. Kills, stones, gathered, gathers. She asked what they show us about God and about those who are not acting on God’s behalf. What a contrast in the verbs, eh? She wondered “in what ways have you felt ‘stoned’ or ‘killed’ recently? Does the stoning or killing seem to come from God?”
Would love to hear your thoughts on these questions or other topics this chapter stirred up! See you in the comments!
P.S. Next week is our last bird: the raven. The last week in November I’ll explain a book we will read throughout the next year in the midst of our “normal reading” (and a guest who will lead us!). In December we are going to read short stories again. The Christmas Wreck by Frank Stockton, How Christmas Came to the Santa Maria Flats by Elia W. Peattie, and The Pony Engine and the Pacific Express by William Dean Howells.