Feb 6 2011

Stay Alert!

_CES2494Earlier this year, while looking at some articles on the Flourishonline.org website, I saw one where it was reported that when Calvin DeWitt was asked what one thing he’d recommend pastors do to get more involved in Creation Care he suggested that they put out a bird feeder.  Since at that time I was photographing a lot of birds near my feeder here at the house I thought that was interesting.  Shortly thereafter I showed a couple of groups a multi-media program I had just put together on birds and asked them, “What can we learn from watching birds?”  After doing this for a group at Wilderness Wildlife Week in Pigeon Forge last month one woman came up to me and said that one thing she noticed about birds is that they’re not really care free at all.  She said they’re always on the alert.

_CES2603As I thought about the birds I watch I had to agree with her.  They seem to stay focused on what’s going on around them.  They are aware of what other birds are coming in and whether the neighbor’s cat is on the prowl.  Their very life is dependent on their staying alert.  This is something we too must do in order to care for Creation.  It is also something we must do to care for our souls.

In my sermon this morning I talked about Christ’s letter to the church of Sardis found in Revelation 3.  Jesus tells the Christians there to “be alert.”  There is an interesting story about Sardis that likely lies behind this admonition.  Sardis was surrounded by three large cliffs and the one pass leading into the city was difficult to approach.  The people of Sardis felt that they possessed an impregnable bulwark.  Twice, however, the city was conquered and neither time was a battle fought.  The people simply felt secure, got cocky and failed to leave a guard at the city’s one entrance.  During the night while everyone was asleep their enemies quietly entered and were able to take the city.

In Christ’s words to the church at Sardis he warns them of being too comfortable or getting too cocky.  He charged them to stay alert lest they also fall.  This is a warning that we should all pay heed to.  In the spiritual life we can become comfortable with where we are and fail to keep up our guard.  If we get lazy or complacent it could well spell danger.  Just as the birds must stay focused and alert to survive, so must we in our spiritual walk.  When it comes to caring for our souls—and the earth—we must beware of the dangers around us.  One of the greatest dangers of all is failing to stay alert.


(The chickadee and titmouse seen here were photographed at my house this winter.)