Nesting Place

There’s a bird’s nest on the parking lot end under the awning of the community center, likely left behind after cold-weather migration, packed in a drain hole. Not one of those Hallmark-card-like little cup-shaped nests, but more like something hastily assembled for basic function. Imagine little birds taking twigs, fluff, leaves, and all the do-dads birds use to establish the comforts of home, and just clapping together a homestead within a metal opening under the awning of a hard cement building. There are lots of nice trees around here, and surely many of the neighbors have pretty, painted birdhouses on their front porches: so why do they pick buildings? Don’t they feel a bit cheated?

One of our friends who’d looked up at the nesting spots several times, told me, “Oh, that’s not the only nest. There have been others up there.” He pointed to several places up above where, sure enough, there had been a small neighborhood of bird homes tucked around. Apparently it’s been a prime area of real estate in the bird housing market. Maybe, when spring comes, the little builders will come in and business can boom again.

It’s funny and nice to think about: birds’ nests at GreenTree. It’s a nice picture of the Parable of the Mustard Seed.

The parable is found in Mark 4:30-32, where Jesus says that the kingdom of God “is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.” Theologians differ in opinion about the meaning of the plant (which grows as tall as 12 to 15 feet in just a few weeks), but one thing is certain: Jesus wanted to describe the kingdom of God to us because we, His children, are part of it. And the kingdom, and Jesus’ path, is often littered with paradoxes and opposites. The greatest in the kingdom is the servant. The meek shall inherit the earth. The poor in spirit get the kingdom of heaven.

We long to be a church in which the vulnerable and the unsettled will find a home. Already, God is teaching us how to love outside our safe haven, and we are becoming a blended family of “birds” of many “different feathers.” It is our prayer that GreenTree will become more and more effective at enlarging its borders. May we be that place in the kingdom where people—no matter how much or how little money they have, how settled or messy they are, how successful they are or how far they have fallen—will find in GreenTree a home where they can nest.

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