I think that it was probably the coldest day in the winter of 2018. When I say it was a cold day, it was a cold morning. Somewhere around 5:00 a.m., I turned on the local news and heard the weather person say that the “real feel” temperature was minus four degrees. The wind was blowing hard and picking up the icy cold and making it even colder. I went ahead and prepared to go walking on that coldest of mornings.
The more I thought about it, the less enthused I was about going out into the cold. I pressed on and finally opened the door and headed out. I thought to myself only an idiot would go out on a day like this and walk in the cold. After I had walked down the street for several minutes, I saw absolutely no one. No one was out walking or out doing anything. My assessment was right. They were smart. I was not.
I pressed on in the dark until the dawn began to arrive. It was just before sunup when I heard something up above me in a tree. It was a chirp, a weak chirp. One bird, one lonely bird with a cold, weak chirp. I stopped and looked at him about twenty feet up as his chirp came about every four or five seconds. I wondered if there were any other birds around. There were none, but this bird continued his mournful chirp.
I had no idea what the other birds were doing or where they were, but they weren’t perched on a limb in the blowing cold where this bird was. He was all puffed up. I could not even tell what kind of bird it was. He was puffed up to stay warm like birds typically do, but it did not appear to be working. While I myself was cold, I had on about seven layers of clothing and besides that, I knew I would soon be home in a warm place again.
I kept on walking, staying close to the tree where that bird was sitting. It appeared as though he didn’t want to fly anywhere. I was wishing I could help him. I knew I couldn’t go get a blanket and throw it around him. There was really nothing I could do, but my reflections on wanting to help him led me to consider the people who may be cold and shivering and lightly chirping. I have seen people like that often times through the years as they are forced to find a place outside the community of faith in the cold of this world, alone and sadly chirping and needing help.
You have seen folks like that, too. You may have occasionally been that person. How many times do we get outside of the family of God and sit in the cold, chilly, loneliness of our own existence? These people often think they don’t need anybody, but they do. The author of Ecclesiastes wrote that two are better than one. They can keep each other warm. That would have worked for the little lonely bird in the tree that morning, but I didn’t know where the others like him were. This dude was freezing, all by himself.
How many people — God’s people — fail to experience the wonder and the warmth of life that can be shared in Christ Jesus, if we would just care enough to care for each other? I’m certainly aware of the fact that a church can become so ingrown and ingrained in their own interests that they forget everybody else. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that we are to care for one another and that people who sometimes need care and love and grace the most get it the least. God help us when we see a lonely bird in our existence, our world. Try and find a warm place for them and help them pull up to the edge of the table.
There are occasions when we seem to love lost people a whole lot more than we like the saints who get lost in this world and may find themselves shivering on a limb, chirping in the early morning light. I am not a cold weather person. I do realize that God’s people with warmth and love, compassion and care, can make a tremendous difference in those lonely birds around us. We get stuck out there on a limb on a cold morning. If we just watch and care and get close enough to them, we could be a tremendous help.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.