For the past 20 years, my family has had a pet cockatiel. I’ll never forget the day we got him. A lady in our church raised cockatiels in her home. One day, she invited us over so the kids could see her newly-hatched baby cockatiels – then she told them we could take one home!
Naming him was one of our biggest challenges. There are so many great biblical names to choose from – Joshua, Caleb, David, Stephen. We finally settled on Larry. LARRY?! Yes! There’s a limit to spirituality when a sports junkie like me has the opportunity to name a bird. Of course, you name him after the most famous ‘Bird’ of our time.
Larry has brought joy to our family for the past 20 years. He whistles Andy Griffith, Charge, Fox Call and Pop Goes the Weasel. He also says his name, Larry, and he used to say, “Shut the door!” (I don’t know how he learned that one…well, maybe I do.) Larry’s entire vocabulary is an imitation of things he’s heard over and over.
I got to thinking one day about how church members are a lot like birds. I always say, “Your best friends ought to be the people you go to church with.” Why? Because birds of a feather flock together. It’s interesting to find how you start to talk and act like the things you see and hear over and over, just like Larry.
Larry is a cockatiel, but the church is filled with a variety of other kinds of birds. Let’s take a look at some of the birds hanging around here.
Angry Birds. Just like the popular and addictive smart pad game, angry birds are popular and addictive to be around. But, if you’re not careful, you can fall in with them. These are the birds that are always angry at something or someone. They don’t know why – they just are. Angry birds are known more for what they are against than what they are for.
Snow Birds. Have you ever noticed that some birds fly south for winter? When the seasons change, all of a sudden, you see different birds hanging around than you saw the season before. Some people think church is just for certain seasons of life. Some come during the high times when things are going great and they want to celebrate and praise God for the good things in their lives. But when the seasons change and they fall on hard times, they fly south and weather the storm somewhere else. There is also the opposite kind of birds. They come to church to be lifted up when they’re in the darkest times of their lives, but when God answers prayers and they get back on top, they fly away and wait for the next season.
Wild Birds. These birds are different. They can be messy. They come with all kinds of problems, don’t always have their stuff together, and can be unpredictable. Any church that is doing a great work should be full of wild birds.
Humming Birds. I love to watch humming birds. They fly unlike any other bird, and it’s spell-binding to watch. In church, humming birds are the ones that bring music to us each week and intrigue us with their beautiful songs. They have a way of stirring our hearts and lifting our spirits to motivate and remind us that we were created to soar.
Coo Coo Birds. I don’t mean “Coo Coo for Cocoa Puffs.” Coo Coo birds to me represent consistency, faithfulness and dependability. They are like the bird in the Coo Coo clock that chirps every hour on the hour. You don’t have to watch him carefully to know what time it is. Just listen for his chirp and he will speak the truth about what time it is, as long as his clock gets wound. That is exactly how we as believers stay faithful. We hear the Word of God which is the seed for our souls. It shapes us, convicts us, challenges us, and sustains us in all kinds of weather. It’s important to get the truth out in a world that tries to portray us, Christians, as Coo Coo (as in, Coo Coo for Cocoa Puffs). Many of them are birds themselves. They are Mocking birds. They mock our convictions, our beliefs, our Bible, our Lord and our God. And while they mock us – we are really the birds with purpose.
When someone has a relationship with God, knowing he is free from sin, free from guilt, free from shame, free from their past, that is one – Free Bird.
How cool is that?
So, the next time an Angry Bird or a Mocking Bird comes around and begins with their criticisms – listen to the words of my bird Larry, “Shut the Door.”
Embrace the wild birds. We ought to open our arms and our hearts to all kinds of birds – even the wild ones.
Don’t be a snow bird. Church is for all seasons of life. So, make sure you get your clock wound every Sunday morning at a church that preaches the Word.
Blessings from one Coo Coo, Free Bird Pastor,