When I was a kid, my dad had a bird book. It fascinated me. On the cover was a bullfinch with its magnificent red chest. Inside were all these wonderful birds, the most exciting of which was the hoopoe. Turns out this exotic creature was rarely seen in the UK, especially in Sheffield, but it set my heart aglow. I still have my father’s bird book and although I am definitely not a twitcher, I enjoy seeing birds and trying to identify them. One of the things that I promised myself in my new home was that I would a) have a garden b) have birdfeeders in it. And so, once I got my new flat, I set about buying different kinds of bird food and feeders, and placed a comfortable chair facing out into the garden, ready to enjoy seeing my feathered visitors arrive.
The garden already had some residents when I arrived – a pair of beautiful collared doves and a rather clumsy magpie that I have named ‘Random’. Blue tits and great tits soon found the feeders, tiny birds with beautiful blue and yellow colouring. A local family of jackdaws, nesting under the ridge tiles of a neighbour’s roof have become regular visitors. A jay has visited a couple of times – I have rarely seen these before and so that was a real treat. The delightful goldfinches have sat on the washing line – these are the birds that I most hoped would come and feed. I wondered how long it would be before the starlings turned up. Starlings are like the teenagers of the bird world, noisy but harmless. Sure enough, they soon found the feeders, squawking and quarrelling. One day I came home from work and gazed eagerly out of the window to see what was going on. And there. On the fence. Were 3 pigeons. Not wood pigeons with their gentle cooing. Ordinary, scruffy, like-you-get- in-town pigeons. This was not in the plan. These feeding stations are for the beautiful and lovely in the bird world, not the ordinary and scruffy. Ooooh, don’t you just hate it when you discover something unpleasant or unkind about yourself? Here is me, making judgements on BIRDS! I gave myself a good talking to and now make sure that there is bird food on the ground, for any birds, including ordinary pigeons, which might stop and need a feed.
At Northern Lights MCC and as the denomination Metropolitan Community Churches, we place great emphasis on God’s all inclusive love and we work hard to be an inclusive and welcoming church. This is all easy enough when the people we meet and greet are like us, or fit with our values and norms. It can be more challenging for us when someone arrives to be fed and nourished who doesn’t fit with what we expect. That’s when inclusive love really kicks in. May you feel God’s all inclusive love for you this week.