I came away from the church service yesterday morning feeling like the sermon was incomplete -- which is quite unusual, to give full credit to our excellent pastoral staff! :~) Maybe I was just out of sorts. One of the songs we had sung earlier in the service (full lyrics here), although not usually one of the songs that touch my heart the most, had brought me to grateful tears, and perhaps I was in a different place emotionally than usual. As Nich and I reflected on the message afterward in the car, I said that I felt at several points throughout that the pastor could have gone further with explaining exactly what he meant so that there was no chance of misinterpretation, while Nich felt just enough had been said. Our church does an annual all-church study each fall, and this year, it's Peter Scazzero's Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. Part of what concerned me yesterday is that people, particularly our younger ones, would walk away believing that it was okay to be governed by their feelings alone.
Anyway, this morning, in my morning reading from the Daily Office, the Scripture portion was taken from Isaiah 40: 28-31, which has been a favorite of mine since my early teens when I committed it to memory as a song.
And then followed the chicken story.
In a nutshell (eggshell?), a farmer puts an eagle egg in with his chickens. The eagle hatches and grows up with his chicken siblings, fluttering around the barnyard, eating what the chickens ate. One day, he sees a great bird flying high in the sky and asks, "Who's that?" in awe. A chicken says, "That's an eagle. They're the king of the birds. They belong up there in the sky. We're just chickens. We belong on the ground." So the eagle dies after having lived an entire life as a chicken, because he thought he was a chicken.
So here is my problem: before and after each Scripture reading/devotional, we're supposed to spend 2 minutes in silence and solitude with God. After reading that story, though, I just couldn't held sitting in bed giggling at the absurdity of it all. When Nich came back into the bedroom to get dressed for work, I explained the story to him and how funny I found it all. I said I felt like they could have just stopped with the Scripture passage; it would have been more than sufficient.
He said, "Remember yesterday when you felt like the sermon could have gone further? Well, sometimes, people need the chicken story."
Which got me laughing all over again.
So, the moral of the story is, tell the chicken story.
"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner