Over the last 9 to 12 months, we’ve had a pair of old buzzards taking up residence here at the church. No, I’m not talking about a couple of crusty church members, but two buzzards or vultures. (What’s the difference, I ask. I am sure, though, someone out there knows and will tell me. Still, for the sake of this post, “buzzard” seems to work better)… Yes, two buzzards call a courtyard here at the church their home.
They’ve been around enough that I’ve given them names. At first, I wanted to call them Calvin and Hobbes. But, then, not wanting to offend the Presbyterians, I backed off. Kind of hard to come up with names, in fact, that don’t potentially offend somebody. I’ve finally landed on Beavis and Voldemort. I’m pretty sure that I’m safe there.
Speaking of the Presbyterians, who live across the street from us: sounds like they have a few buzzards taking up residence over there. Not sure they are the same couple or another. Don’t know if buzzards are church hoppers or not. I’ve wanted to call the Baptists (across from us on the other street we border) and ask if they have any old buzzards over there. But, then, I decided against it. First, as I went through the conversation in my mind, I imagined it’d be pretty confusing. Second, I wasn’t sure what I’d do if I found out that we had buzzards and they didn’t.
Scott, our Youth Minister, announced that there were a dozen of the critters congregating on the ridge of our Sanctuary roof the other day. Some kind of Conference of sorts, I guess. I’m thinking I should be proud that we were chosen to host the event.
My initial reaction was to try to get them out of here. (I mean, after all, what is your first reaction when you see a buzzard anywhere, let alone church?! Thankfully, they have a way of staying away on funeral days! Seriously, I’ve been worried about that!) Anyway, much as my initial reaction was to find some way to get rid of them, they’ve kind of found a place in our lives around here. (Besides, how are you going to evict them? Surely, being the church that has the reputation of “shooting old buzzards” can’t be good!) Yes, they’ve become a part of our life. The preschoolers regularly go down the hall to look at them through the windows. One little girl, quoting one of the boys from the 4/5 year old class, told us not to look in their eyes or “you’ll die.” (That’s good to know.) Preschool visits may be put on hold here for awhile, though, as, right now, the kids are rather intrigued when Beavis gets on top of Voldemort (or vice versa). (Maybe Beavis and Valdemort aren’t the best names, after all!)
Being the preacher that I am (ever looking for an illustration or, in this case, a sign), I’ve been working and praying to figure out the import and meaning of B &V and Company around here. As is the case with buzzards, my initial ponderings were not so positive: something along the lines of “oh no! we’re dying.” But, then, the optimist came out in me. Yes, for me, these birds are proof (especially since they are roosting here and not circling overhead!) that, in the image of Christ, we are open to all around here. While some communities out there may press for a certain kind of bird in their flock (no sandals or blue jeans or piercings or tattoos or addictions), I will — and, hopefully, we all will — take birds just as they are: objects of Sacred worth!
This morning (Sunday), we had another gathering outside the coffee area and on the ridge of the roof. B&V and a few of their friends. Fan of St. Francis that I am, I thought I’d go out and preach to them. On approach, though, they took flight. (I guess they’ve heard about my preaching!) Still, like St. Francis, I’ll welcome them as God’s creatures — even as I’ll pray for other folks out there for whom I might be a buzzard!