On Chickens and Churches
One of my favorite topics is chickens. Lately I have been thinking about eggs and connecting my thoughts on eggs to the parable of the wheat and thorns. Sometimes eggs don’t hatch, and sometimes the garden is overtaken by weeds. One of the novice questions I receive from would-be chicken keepers is: “Do I have to have a rooster to get eggs?” The answer is no. But a hen setting on eggs doesn’t always hatch them all, even when there is a rooster present. Sometimes eggs get addled; something occurs to stop the egg from developing or growing. The word “addled”, when applied to the human mind, can refer to “fuzzy”, befuddled”, mixed up”, and “off base.” Reading these definitions reminds me the present writer is included in them.
A further question is: “do Christians, churches, and whole denominations get addled?”; meaning something occurs and the development stops. Addling eggs is a way to control geese populations, but there is possible federal prison time for addling an eagle’s egg! I find local church histories inspiring. They usually sound something like this: “Twelve people gathered in the parlor of the Smith farm and after a night of prayer covenanted together to give birth to the First Baptist Church. With the help of a Baptist pastor, an evangelistic Sunday morning worship was established and the new church witnessed 20 people baptized in the brook. Within the next decade, nearly 100 people gave their lives to Christ. On the celebration of the church’s 50th year, it boasted 150 people in attendance and witnessed a Sunday School of 50 children. Its generosity was known through-out the county and three other churches were established by their deacons.”
Fast forward and we ask in a post-COVID world, what’s next? How come so many eggs got addled, and sometimes my own soul is one of the eggs? Lately, I have been sitting with the book of Colossians and thinking about Paul planting churches in that particular valley and how correction from the apostle was needed so soon. In the final chapter of his letter, Paul writes, “Devote yourselves to prayer and be watchful and thankful.” Prayer, awareness, and gratitude may be what protects souls and churches from being addled. Possibly the threat of being addled increases with time. Anxieties and reactions to the present world could bring about being addled. Or, could it be, and as any historian can point out, the movements lose their original purpose and finding the future is regaining the original purpose? I wonder what it was like to sit in that kitchen or parlor and pray together by candle or lamp light.
I think this is still happening, maybe not by candle light, but sometimes subtle movements go unnoticed by those of us busily getting churches to work the way they should. How can I storm the gates of hell when I am too busy revising a set of by-laws or trying to pay for the heat? I believe the Gospel is the purpose that overshadows all others.
With self-awareness, gratitude and a healthy practice of prayer, possibly our eggs wouldn’t get addled.
In Jesus name,