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A Trapped Bird

The other day I had a situation where a bird ended up in The Chapel.  We had left the door open for an extended period of time and it seized the opportunity to just waltz right in.

Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to catch a bird in a 4 story open air chapel…but it is nearly impossible.  I am sure we could have hired a professional bird catcher…but I am not one to quit easily.

Unfortunately, the bird kept flying towards light.  So he kept trying to escape through the vast amount of windows.  I was starting to wonder if this place was actually designed to keep birds trapped in.

I tried for awhile, then gave up and went back to work.

Next thing I knew, the bird walked into my office.  Like, I was on a zoom call and he just came walking right in. I had an in-person meeting right after my call, so I had limited time to catch this bird.

I very casually got up, closed the door and trapped the bird in my small office.

And now I felt like I was in one of those money booths or hurricane simulators, but instead of money or wind viciously flying around me, it was a bird.

I was trying to capture this thing to no avail and of course while this was happening, my next appointment showed up.  We decided not to meet in my office…because you know…the bird.

So I trapped the bird in my office and we met outside with the plan to catch and release after.

When I snuck back in after my meeting, that bird was tired of being trapped, and snuck out through the barely opened door (Alcatraz prison break style) and I was back to square one.

At that point, I decided I should just give the bird a key and let him know when rents due, because he wasn’t listening to me.

So, I was on another zoom call and again, the bird came waltzing in.  Maybe he really wanted some pastoral advice or he was secretly a spy…I’ve heard birds are fake…no matter, I tried my best to ignore him.

Let me tell you, it is very difficult to lead a premarital meeting with a bird just chilling in your office.

I played it cool and decided I’m going to just keep working and see how long the bird will hangout out in there.  It sure enough, stayed in my office with me working, for almost an hour.  Just wandering around.

After an hour, I got up, closed the door, and grabbed my trash can.  I figured I’d trap it under the trashcan and then slide something under it to block it in, then release it outside.

Well as before it was another repeat performance of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and yet somehow when I swung the trashcan around, I trapped him.


I felt like Steve Irwin or Bear Grylls, but with a bird, in my office.

I then looked for something to trap the bird and realized…I had actually pinned the can across the birds neck.

Now I don’t know a lot about birds or bird bones.

I do know that if I kill a bird in my office by breaking it’s neck, that will not go over well with my children.  We all theoretically love To Kill A Mockingbird…but not literally…

I was imagining that I will have to host a bird funeral like in The Office.

So, I got a trash bag, and I picked up the lifeless bird body, and went outside to lay this bird to rest.

I tell you my bird tale to say, birds don’t belong in The Chapel or in my office, I am not qualified to get them out, and there was time loss and immense amount of frustration on all parties.

This past Sunday we reached the part in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus speaks about adultery, lust, marriage, divorce, and oaths.  Not exactly super popular topics for Memorial Day weekend.  And yet, it felt like it was important to wrestle through.  I would encourage you to check out the podcast and listen to all the Sermon on the Mount content, but specifically this past one, “Difficult”.  What it essentially boils down to is desire and longing, marriage, and oaths are all meant to be good things, in fact great things in the right context and situation…but most of us have settled for a cheap version with such negative connotations, that they seem archaic.  I think the truth is, most of us have not taken them seriously or we have been doing them wrong.  When we use these things in ways they were not intended, it leads to difficulties, destruction, or death.

When we approach these things with a dismissive casual nature, we end up heading down a path that traps us in a situation we shouldn’t be in, we are not qualified to handle, and we spend a lot of time, mental, and emotional frustration trying to navigate these challenging waters.

So what if, knowing our weaknesses and tending to them was the better approach?  Instead of leaving the metaphorical door open to our lives, where anything can wander in, we become honest and thoughtful about when we are weakest, where we struggle, and take steps to avoid just propping the door open.

Instead of treating our marriages like a “thing we just do”, we slow down to make sure we are stepping into something we are willing to sacrifice for.  We recognize the weightiness of what it means to be beautifully and mysteriously united as one with someone else.  And when challenges inevitably arise, we show care, compassion, humility and honesty to work to restore the covenant.

And the oaths and promises we make, should come from a place of honesty and transparency.  Jesus advises against oaths, because people were making them, swearing to “God adjacent” things…then breaking them.  If we were consistent, delivered on what we promised, and no one ever second guessed our authenticity, oaths are great and not a big deal.  And when we fall short, instead of trying to blame someone else or make excuses, we owned up, apologized and moved on, faith and trust can be restored.

I didn’t want that bird in The Chapel…and I’m not sure he wanted to be in there either.  It was a tragic tale for all involved.

When a person or your body or your hand or your eye or your marriage or a covenant or commitment or vows are all used in ways that they were not intended, we are drifting from what God has for us, diverging from intention, and diluting the fullness and beauty of it.  It becomes a tragic tale, not just for us, but those around us as well.  We do not exist in a vacuum or void, we exist in community.

So, as I carried the lifeless bird out of The Chapel, gently laid down this broken fowl and started to walk back into The Chapel something happened…

Like a phoenix, that bird rose from the ashes.

It flew off like nothing had ever happened.

It played me good.

But let me tell you, I had the immense relief that that bird wasn’t dead.  I was terrified thinking about having to tell people about how I killed a bird in my office.

Death wasn’t the end of the birds story.

Guilt and shame were not the end of my story with the bird.

Jesus’ teachings may bring with them a sense of frustration, or confusion, conviction, or annoyance, but they don’t end with death.

Except death to self.

They don’t end with guilt and shame.

Except death to guilt and shame.

The teachings of Jesus always lead us to life and life to the fullest that is found in him.

I hope we can see the beautiful life Jesus has for us today, everyday, and all the days of our life.  One where we are formed in His likeness over a lifetime.

Following Jesus, Abiding in Him, being Changed by him, and Embodying his ways.

Join us as we continue to journey through the Sermon on the Mount throughout June and July at The Chapel.

This Sunday, a way easier topic…retaliation and loving your enemy.  So as I said on Sunday, bring your favorite enemy to worship this week…

Also, this Sunday we will be sharing in communion at 9am.  It’s a brief communion service, only about 15 minutes, then we have coffee and pastries outside between the services.  I hope you can join us for this lovely time to remember Jesus’ last supper and what we are called to remember and live out.

Then worship at 10am like normal.

No Bible Studies this week on Wednesday or Thursday, but we will continue our Noon prayer time on Tuesdays throughout the summer.

Bible studies will be back later in the month.

Let me know if you need anything, if you have any questions, or if you have a bird in your house…I can’t make any promises…but I can try to help.