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Eagle or Chicken?

Have you ever tried to think about what the word spirituality means? Take a few moments to think about it while I tell you a story. This story is originally found in Tony de Mello’s book Song of the Bird. 

A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen.  The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.

All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.

The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” He asked.

“That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbor. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth—we’re chickens.” So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.

Interesting story—an eagle thought he was a chicken because that what he was told he was by all of the right people.  Now back to the word spirituality and what it might mean. There could be many meanings. Recently, I was reading a book entitled Awareness by Anthony deMello. In this book, he suggests that the word spirituality means quite simply to wake up. He suggests that most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry asleep, they raise a family asleep, and die in their sleep. Like an eagle who lived his whole life like a chicken.

Often, I confess that I live like a barnyard chicken when I know I was meant to be a soaring eagle. Perhaps during this advent season we can set aside the sleeping life of an eagle living like a barnyard chicken—nothing against chickens. It is easy to get discouraged with all things in the barnyard, if you know all that I am referring to. We can become so distracted with the life on the farm, nothing against living on the farm, that we forget we are citizens of another community. 

Advent is the reminder that we are not alone, we have another reason for being—to soar. Like an eagle. It is God “with us” that lifts us up and restores us to our rightful place. So, its time to rise up from our slumber. We are eagles, established by God and for God.

This is my prayer for all of us this advent season, as strange as this article sounds. Life on a farm sounds great but the view from the air is quite nice too.

Merry Christmas,


Posted by Tobin Wilson with

Healthy Churches … Exhibit These Five Habits

1.  Have a Future Story

This opening statement in our future story gets me every time I read it S-L-O-W-L-Y.

In 2020, Placentia Presbyterian Church continues to flourish, with membership growing through outreach to the unchurched parts of our community. Our church embraces all people, particularly the emerging generation, families and people from various cultural backgrounds.

 Communities who are members of the Universal Church have a future and a hope. The wisdom writer says, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” Never more true words can be spoken than today. To be in any church and the Church we have hope in Jesus Christ. It is like a rope that pulls us forward into the future that God has for us.

2.  Try New Things

General practitioners of medicine have an interesting phrase that I have heard over the years. It goes like this, “Doctors practice medicine.” It is that word practice. Even science is inexact. It is filled with many trials before anything goes public. What if we took that same approach to ministry? What if we “practiced ministry?” I don’t know about you but I really like that. The world is complex, no argument at this front. So why wouldn’t the church try things: in discernment, worship, discipleship, structure, etc. It would certainly be fun-to unleash the possibilities with a bit more freedom to watch what God does in and through the Spirit.

 3.  Give Thanks to God for Signs of Transformation

When one of our new interventions lands and scratches an itch, the people of God respond with a simple and profound, “Thanks be to God.” Success is never final and failure is never fatal, because the universal Church is always here until Christ returns to restore all things.

4. Learn from Our Mis-Steps

It is a truism that no person or process is perfect. We are all perfectly imperfect, as I like to say. Our past is for learning purposes only. I am reminded of a line by the famous British reporter for the London Times, G.K. Chesterton, who wrote in response to this question, “What is wrong with the world?” He wrote, “I am.” So, we get up, ask for forgiveness, brush ourselves off, are repositioned in Christ and continue. That is why we need Christ, the Church and one another.

5. Trust God. Be Kind to One Another. Respect All.

Good blogs are no more than 450 words, which is why I combined the last three into one. It is all about God. It seems to me that the remainder of the world is parsimoniously prattling on like a rabid dog. It is a good time to step back. Take a breath. Remember these habits and listen to one another. A good and Godly conversation is one in which all parties at the table bend toward one another and all leave the table slightly changed. This is the essence of the gospel: before Resurrection Sunday, there is Good Friday.

Just a few thoughts …


Posted by Tobin Wilson with

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