The birds are calling to each other; I hear them through my open window. They swoop and dive. Perhaps I will put up a feeder. When I quietly observe in my friends’ gardens, I see the attraction.
“…so that the birds in the sky come and nest in its branches.” Matt. 13:32 (CEB)
Welcoming the birds is kingdom imagery. A desired outcome. A place of rest, a place to build a home. Sometimes it is good to start at the end. What is the goal? How does the parable end? And then trace the process back to the beginning.
Birds – like all animals – need food, water, shelter and a nice place to raise the kids. The more diversity in plants in a landscape the more diversity in the types of birds attracted.
The University of Illinois Extension offers wisdom that is both obvious and unexpected. What’s true for birds is true for people- physically and spiritually. Do our churches reflect the kingdom? The birds of the sky are many and various, their diversity beyond imagination. The mustard seed is a small start for a habitat.
A hummingbird visited a moment ago. Red cannas along my driveway brightly welcome. As people pass our buildings, search church websites, what welcome do they see? How will they know if they will find food, living water, safe shelter, and support for their families? What signs do we offer?
August begins tomorrow. A time of transition. New arrivals, looking to build nests. Searching for signs. Where can we be at home?
The kingdom of God welcomes us. That is the picture of this parable of Jesus. Starting with a small seed. Planted in a field. Waiting for the rain, the sun. Growing, maturing, sending out branches.
What is the essence of this kingdom that is so attractive? That becomes our home? I am reminded of the Taizé chant The Kingdom of God:
The kingdom of God is justice and peace,
and joy in the Holy Spirit;
Come, Lord, and open in us
the gates of your kingdom,
Working for justice, praying for peace, experiencing joy. In the Holy Spirit. Collectively. Open in us. Our hearts, our churches, our communities, our world. The gates of your kingdom, that we might together enter.